Safer Internet Day by Ashvika Thavaseelan – Townley Grammar School
Every February, nearly 170 nations celebrate Safer Internet Day. In the United Kingdom, the UK Safer Internet Centre has created a campaign specifically for the day that intends to start a national conversation about how to use technology safely and positively.
Over half of children and young people in the UK heard about the campaign last year, but it also involves and impacts the government, charities, police agencies, and technological firms such as social media and gaming platforms.
In reality, nearly 3,400 organisations across the UK provided activities for the day in 2022. It was featured on national television and radio, including the BBC and ITV, as well as the Evening Standard and Metro. Young people from across the country were questioned about their experiences and ambitions for the future of the internet. Millions more individuals participated in the day online: people on Twitter uploaded a custom emoji, Instagram influencers joined involved, and Snapchat designed a special lens and filter.
Safer Internet Day is also a celebration – of everything the internet has done and can do for us all.
The internet is a tool and it’s one that many of us use on a daily basis. But like any tool, it’s the way people choose to use it which matters. Sometimes people use it in ways that are unsafe, unkind or irresponsible. On top of this, the internet was not designed with young people in mind. If it had been, perhaps more would’ve been done to ensure that it was a safe environment for them. Even today, knowing children and young people make up a large percentage of internet users, companies do not always implement ‘safety by design.’
‘Safety by design’ would mean designing platforms and products to reduce the risk of harm to those who use it. It would mean tech companies and app developers think about what can be done to prevent harm from the outset, rather than acting in response to harms or problems after they occur.
There are many adults in many different places who wish to reduce online harm, but young people have a right to be a part of that process as well. This Safer Internet Day, we want everyone to make room for online talks about life, especially with young people, because you have the right to have your say on issues and policies that affect you. Nobody knows your online experiences better than you, and by speaking up and sharing your thoughts, you have the opportunity to improve the online safety support that other young people will receive in the future.
That’s why this year, the theme for Safer Internet Day is: “Want to talk about it? Making space for conversations about life online.” It is time for you to understand the importance of e-safety and ensure that you feel safe online.