On February 9, 2014, the United Nations, in collaboration with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) celebrated “Safer Internet Day”, an initiative focused on promoting greater online safety for children and young adults by advertising better education strategies on how to be a responsible, global citizen within the internet.
The ITU functions as the information and communication technology division of the UN, and hopes that Safer Internet Day will call attention to the need to ensure that as ICT access increases, people’s social responsibility and internet safety awareness increases as well. The Secretary-General of the ITU, Hamadoun I. Touré, spoke in a vide about the Safer Internet Day, “ITU has a global reach, but we also understand how important it is to act at the local level within our communities… Promoting access to ICT is ITU’s core mandate. But at the same time, while fostering greater access to everybody, we recognize the vital need to ensure that ICTs are used in a responsible and safe war, especially for our younger generation.”
An article on the UN’s website cites research that almost half the children in Europe have access to internet in their own bedrooms, and that four-fifths of teenagers claim to know how to conceal their online behavior from their parents. With the rise in sexting, online bullying, and the relative ease with which children can become victims of child pornography, better education about online safety practices is necessary.
Internet access is becoming more and more readily available in developing countries, and educated consumers are becoming more and more important. ITU is sponsoring online workshops aimed at teaching parents and teachers better skills at identifying the risks and tools that can help them teach their children safe online practices, and keep their children safe.