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IP/08/207

Brussels, 12 February 2008

Let's listen to children: They know how to make the Internet a safer place!

Today, 100 organisations in over 50 countries worldwide celebrate Safer Internet Day. In Brussels a first ever pan-European Youth Forum on Safer Internet is organised by the European Commission with the participation of Meglena Kuneva, the EU's Consumer Commissioner. The purpose is to increase dialogue between children and decision makers on safer Internet issues and to raise awareness of the best ways for protecting minors online. Safer Internet Day is organised under the patronage of the EU's Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding.

"Children have been very quick in making the most of online services such as social networking sites and mobile phones. But many still underestimate the hidden risks of using these, from cyber-bullying to sexual grooming online," said EU Commissioner Viviane Reding, responsible for Information Society and Media. "Today, I am calling upon all decision-makers from the public and the private sector to listen and learn from children and to improve awareness strategies and tools for protecting minors. I myself will work on the EU's contribution by proposing, before the end of the month, a new Safer Internet programme for 2009-2013 to allow for a continuation of the valuable work done to help children, parents and teachers in identifying problems for minors online."

Commissioner Meglena Kuneva, the EU's Consumer Commissioner, who represented the European Commission at Safer Internet events in Brussels today, added: "As the EU works to make the Internet and mobile phones safer for children and young people, we need to be sure that we know how they use the technologies and what they themselves think should be done to make them safe. From surveys, it appears that children's use of online technologies and their views on potential problems can be very different from adults' views and knowledge. That is why talking directly to youth – today on Safer Internet Day, but also on the other 364 days of the year – is so important for us."
The annual Safer Internet Day takes place for the 5th time this year. To raise awareness of the less obvious online-risks, the Commission is organising a pan-European Youth Forum in Brussels. Thirty 14-17 year-old teenagers who had already taken part in national youth forums in Finland, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Sweden, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria and Iceland have now been invited to Brussels. The teenagers, who will meet with Commissioner Kuneva, members of the European Parliament and industry representatives today, will identify the 10 most important online Safety Tips from their discussions on:

  • Risks and precautions when using social networking sites and mobile phones;
  • Awareness-raising tools and methods.

Safer Internet events organised in the EU at national level this year include:

  • In Spain, Protegeles, the Spanish awareness centre, will launch a TV advertising spot "Life online is what you make of it", which will also be broadcast in other EU countries.
  • In Austria, winners of the first Austrian mobile movie competition will participate in a media workshop on the safe use of mobile phones.
  • In Belgium, a press conference will be organised at 10.30 in Les Halles des Tanneurs in the city center of Brussels with the universities involved in the Teens, Internet, Risks and Opportunities (TIRO) research project, funded by the Belgian Ministry of Science Policy.
  • In Denmark, the most popular online communities for children and young people will mark Safer Internet Day through virtual celebrations on their portals.
  • In Poland, a toolkit for parents and children will be launched by a major cable distribution company. This toolkit, translated into 11 European languages, will be launched in several other European countries.

The results of a competition organised worldwide to create internet safety awareness material will be published today, as part of a worldwide blogathon for Safer Internet Day. The competition involved youth from hundreds of school classes and youth clubs. 665 entries in the competition have addressed the theme: "Life online is what you make of IT".

Background:

The Safer Internet Day is an annual event (see IP/07/140, IP06/126, IP/05/148, IP/04/171) organised by the European internet safety network INSAFE, and co-funded by the Commission’s Safer Internet Programme (see IP/06/1512 and MEMO/07/44).

Recent Eurostat surveys of households in Europe have covered a number of broader questions related to Internet Safety and a mini qualitative survey conducted by Eurobarometer in 2007 gave some revealing insights into the confident behaviour of children when on line :

(http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/pls/portal/docs/PAGE/PGP_PRD_CAT_PREREL/PGE_CAT_PREREL_YEAR_2008/PGE_CAT_PREREL_YEAR_2008_MONTH_02/4-08022008-EN-AP.PDF and IP/07/1227).
Further information:

http://europa.eu.int/saferinternet

For a full calendar of events for Safer Internet Day and the Blogathon see: http://www.saferinternet.org


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