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Nurturing a tech-literate generation

The UK tech sector is leading the way in protecting children online, and helping to promote Safer Internet Day

Today, 7 February 2017, marks Safer Internet Day 2017 (#SID2017). For 24 hours, industry, government and the general public will unite to highlight the challenges and opportunities for young people online, and help affect the critical thinking, knowledge, resilience and support needed to use the internet safely.

#SID2017 is a global celebration of the safe and positive use of technology. Co-ordinated in the UK by the UK Safer Internet Centre, #SID2017 encourages people from more than 100 countries to “unite for a better internet”. Last year, 1,140 UK organisations supported the event, collectively reaching 40% of UK children and young people. This year it looks set to break that record. The campaign also generates a wealth of online resources to allow young people to navigate the web effectively and safely.

For tech businesses, supporting #SID2017 can be as simple as promoting and raising awareness through social media, but many organisations go further and run events and create resources that are updated continually.

Beyond supporting #SID2017, we must all work to make sure young people can positively access the many benefits the internet offers in a safe environment at all times. It is understood that many parents believe that technology use has a positive impact on their children’s future, career and life skills. However, the explosion of new products and services can sometimes feel overwhelming and bring new challenges in protecting young people who are active online.

Many tools and resources are already available to support online safety and these are constantly evolving to respond to the changing environment. For example, when tackling illegal content, UK industry is working in partnership with specialist organisations such as the WeProtect Global Alliance and the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF). The IWF has globally rolled out a tool to speed up the identification and removal of child sexual abuse content on industry platforms and services worldwide, and prevent people from sharing or uploading these images.

Organisations have also designed technical solutions to help parents manage and keep their children safer online, including free parental controls – software and devices – and family-friendly network level filtering to protect children from inappropriate content. Some online services have created specialised search functions, such as Google’s Safe Search and YouTube Kids.

Read more about online safety

Education is critical to building a tech-literate young generation. In the UK, we have world-leading cross-sector initiatives where the technology industry works with NGOs and organisations, such as Vodafone’s Digital Parenting Magazine, and primary school online safety workshops run by BT and Unicef UK, The Right Click. Parents and teachers can receive more information on how to guide their children’s internet activity using resources from the UK Council for Child Internet Safety and Internet Matters.

The UK has one of the best partnership models in the world to ensure children are safe online, with government, industry and civil society working collaboratively. In nurturing a positive environment through these partnerships and supporting initiatives like #SID2017, we can help to build a culture of tech literacy that encourages young people to be knowledgeable, practical and empowered digital citizens.

This was last published in February 2017

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