Internet usage has expanded exponentially and the possibilities it avails are ever increasing. Coupled with the growing developments in mobile device technology, the current generation of young users now have very easy access to content that is not necessary appropriate for them exposing them to the Internet’s inherent dangers. Safer Internet Day is a day that was created by the European Commission purposely to make “a better internet for everyone, in particular, the youngest users out there.” It is an annual event held on the second day of the second week of the second month.
This year’s theme, “Create, connect and share respect: A better internet starts with you”, is a call to action for every stakeholder to play their part in creating a better internet for everyone. Safaricom (one of Kenya’s lead providers of mobile internet) hosted a breakfast at the Michael Joseph Centre, along Waiyaki Way, in Nairobi. The focus of this year’s event was to shape the conversation about safer internet among the young with particular respect to emerging trends like cyberbullying, cybersecurity and online privacy. Five pupils from St Andrew’s Prep school attended the event. There were representatives from the the Communications Authority of Kenya, GSMA, UNICEF, Internet Watch Foundation, Mums Village, Watoto Watch Network, local media personalities and pupils. There were presentations, forums with question and answer sessions, and a chance for the children to give their voice as well.
The main message can be summarized in 7 keywords: Enforcement, Collaboration, Awareness, Empowerment, Reporting, Training, and Policy. Some ideas that our pupils took home were: “post only things that will add value”, “call Childline on 116 to report” and “take time off social media”. The highlights were the entertaining presentations as well as the serious issues that emerged during the discussions. However, the scrumptious breakfast and generous party favours came in a close second.