UNICEF and partners host “online safety” workshop on Safer Internet Day 2014

PRETORIA 11 February – UNICEF South Africa, Google and other Online Child Safety Campaign partners joined forces today to promote the eleventh anniversary of international Safer Internet Day (SID), which encourages the safe and responsible use of online technologies among young users.

A series of Internet safety workshops for learners, parents and teachers from five Johannesburg schools was hosted in Jeppestown. The sessions aimed to equip learners and parents with tools and knowledge to aide safer and more responsible Internet usage.

“The Internet provides a wide range of opportunities for young people, in terms of communicating, entertainment, information and creating content,” MEC for Education at the Gauteng Department of Education Barbara Creecy, said. “However, like any medium for communication and interaction, it also has some inherent risks. We are happy to see that private sector has joined hands with government in order to ensure that our children enjoy the benefits offered by the Internet, while minimising the risks.”

The event comes only a few weeks after a report released by UNICEF South Africa and the Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention in 2013 that investigated young people’s navigation of risks online.

The study was conducted as part of a broader study on school violence in South Africa in 2012. Out of the 121 schools that participated in the school violence study, 93 took part in Connected Dot Com: Young Peoople’s Navigation of Online Risks. Two focus groups were held at most of the schools and in the end a total of 1680 learners participated in the study. The selection of schools was random, and as a result schools across all socio-economic strata were represented.

“The study’s findings have added to better equip parents and teachers as to how children can be protected from harms that exist online,” said UNICEF South Africa Chief of Communications and Partnerships, Thierry Delvigne-Jean. “The findings also show, however, that children are more resilient than we think and that with the right information at their disposal they are able to make informed and mature decisions regarding their safety and responsibility as digital citizens.”

For more information, please contact:
Emma de Villiers, UNICEF South Africa, Tel: 012 354 8252; edevilliers@unicef.org

Click here to download a copy of Connected Dot Com: Young People’s Navigation of Online Risks

(See attached file: FINAL Safer Internet Day Press Release 11022104 .pdf)

About SID
Over the last decade, SID has grown rapidly, now spreading to over 90 countries worldwide, including South Africa. The theme for this year’s SID is ‘Let’s create a better internet together’ – to find out more visit: http://www.saferinternetday.org/web/guest/home.

About UNICEF South Africa
With a strong presence in South Africa, UNICEF is a leading advocate for children. We have the global authority to influence decision makers and the variety of partners at the grassroots level to turn the most innovative ideas into reality. We believe that nurturing and caring for children are the cornerstones of human progress. UNICEF was created with this purpose in mind – to work with others to overcome the obstacles that poverty, violence, disease and discrimination place in a child’s path. For more information about UNICEF and its work in South Africa visit www.unicef.org/southafrica/

For more information about UNICEF’s digital citizenship and safety initiative Voices of Youth Citizens visit www.voicesofyouth.org/citizens