Safer Internet Day is organised by Insafe each year in February to promote safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile phones, especially amongst children and young people across the world.
On Safer Internet Day 2010 , INSAFE launched the campaign "Think B4 U post".
New technologies have turned all of us, and mostly young people, into publishers of information, pictures, videos: photos and videos can be taken at any time with a mobile phone, they can be sent to a list of contacts and uploaded on a blog or a social networking profile in a minute. Photos, once online, remain online and can be seen by anybody, even years after they have been posted.
The possibility of tagging people in pictures, offered by most social networking services, makes it very easy to search for a person's photos online . We can also manage our online identity in a way which may turn us into "celebrities".
What's the problem?
New technologies give tremendous opportunities for creativity. Children and teenagers, who are major users of social networking sites and other new online services, use them to express their identity. But, at the same time, children and young people are in the process of developing their personality and may be particularly vulnerable to gossip and bullying.
Young people do not always realize that the personal information they post remains online and it can be accessed by anyone (including their parents, teachers, future employers, predators…). Many employers now check their job candidates online. Personal information contained in social networking profiles can be used by unscrupulous individuals for purposes which may include grooming.
Innocent pictures can easily be displayed in a completely different context, leading to embarrassement, or even bullying. Because of the digital nature of the photos, they can be cut, pasted, altered or distorted.
What can we do?
Children and teenagers need to be empowered to manage their online identity, including publishing of pictures and videos, in a responsible way. This is why INSAFE decided to launch the campaign "Think B4 U post ! " on Safer Internet Day 2010. Children and teenagers should be made aware that they can control their online identity, by using the privacy settings offered by social networing services, selecting friends online that they can trust, publishing their own photos after thinking carefully about the potential consequences, and pictures of their friends with their permission.
Microsoft and NGO partners are participating in Safer Internet Day events from Helsinki to Hong Kong. In Europe, 650 Microsoft volunteers from 25 subsidiaries are delivering online safety training to more than 50,000 parents, teachers and children. In the U.K., working with law enforcement, Microsoft is launching a customized IE 8 browser featuring the Child Exploitation Online Protection Center (CEOP) which will make it easier to report abuse online.
Additionally, Microsoft is one of 20 companies that participated in the Safer Social Networking Services Principles for the European Union. The results of this effort will be released at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France today.
To find out more about how Microsoft observed Safer Internet Day 2010 click here
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