“It is time for governments, families, academia and the private sector to put children and young people at the centre of digital policies," UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said in a statement marking this year’s World Internet Safety Day, which focuses particularly on the safety of children online.
“By protecting them from the worst the Internet has to offer and expanding access to its best, we can each help tip the balance for good,” Fore said.
Safer Internet Day (#SID2019) raises awareness about online issues and is celebrated in more than 140 countries. This year’s theme is Together For A Better Internet.
In 2016 Unicef statistics estimated that 1 in 3 children have access to the internet globally. The International Telecommunications Union puts the number of young people using the internet at more than 830 million.
According to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s director of education and skills, Andreas Schleicher, in some countries the amount of time spent online by 15 year olds has effectively doubled in three years.
But the picture of internet access by young people globally is uneven. In developing regions, such as Africa, Asia and the Pacific, 90% of the youth have no access, according to ITU’s Facts and Figures for 2017.
In his piece on 10 global megatrends facing education, written for the BBC, Schleicher says many teenagers say they feel bad if disconnected from the net.
These teenagers also make up the group that is yearning the most for online access. According to Unicef’s Children In A Digital World, “young people from low-income countries were 2.5 times more likely to ask for greater access to digital devices.”
South African Web Rangers kickstart 2019
Web Rangers is a programme initiated by Google to promote digital literacy among youth globally.
Partners involved in the South African chapter are Media Monitoring Africa, the Film and Publication Board, IT Master, Axiz Work Group and MTN.
Film and Publication Board spokesperson, Lynette Kamineth said creating a better internet is the task of every government agency, private company, civil society organisation and citizen of South Africa.
“In and of itself the internet can only cause harm if it is used expressly for that purpose. We all need to respect the rights of others on the internet, as much as we expect our rights to be respected,” Lynette Kamineth said.