Three of the best examples of initiatives designed to keep children safe online have been rewarded at the European Commission's annual Safer Internet Forum today in Brussels.
Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel handed out the prizes to the winners of the #SaferInternet4EU competition which rewarded best practices and inspiring initiatives on online safety, media literacy and cyber-hygiene in three categories: organisations, teachers and youth. The competition was run as part of the #SaferInternet4EU campaign launched on Safer Internet Day on 6 February 2018. The shortlisted finalists presented their ideas with short videos, and the public chose the winners by participating in a public vote.
Belgium’s Gezinsbond and Child Focus won in the organisations category for their "Safely Online" project, a set of tools and trainings developed to educate parents, in particular socially disadvantaged parents, about the safe use of new media, in order to protect their children from harmful digital behaviour.
In the teacher category, Slovenia’s Nina Jelen won for "Travelling Around the Virtual World". By turning her classroom into a virtual world, she used creativity and games to promote positive online behaviour among elementary school pupils and to raise awareness about the risks of inappropriately using the internet.
The youth category was won by students from the Tichero high school in Greece for their "Qwwwiz 'Stay Safe Online' App". Developed by the students, this quiz app is targeted at pupils aged ten and up. It aims to encourage critical thinking, positive online behaviour and online safety and is available in Greek, English, German and French.
Commissioner Gabriel said: “I was impressed by the variety and quality of the entries received. We could only award three winners, but I am pleased that the topics of the #SaferInternet4EU campaign are being widely addressed throughout Europe. I am looking forward to following future developments and best practices that can create a better internet for all.”
Gezinsbond and Child Focus will receive a financial incentive of up to €10,000 to scale up Safely Online, for example by translating it into other languages. Nina Jelen will be given a professional development opportunity, delivered within the framework of the Future Classroom Lab course programme for 2018/2019. The Greek students from Tichero will receive a mentoring/training opportunity to develop "Qwwwiz 'Stay Safe Online'" at the national or regional level, working with online safety experts.
Data suggests that around half of all 11 to 16-year-olds in the EU have encountered some form of risk online, from cyberbullying to exposure to harmful or disturbing content. This is why the #SaferInternet4EU campaign will not stop with the awards. The Safer Internet Centres across Europe (co-funded by the European Commission) will continue to develop resources and organise events to protect and empower young people as they navigate through an ever-changing online environment.
Safer Internet Day 2019 on February 5th is the next milestone to raise awareness on online opportunities and challenges and to reach out to children, parents, teachers, and other users of existing and emerging technologies.
Better Internet for Kids web portal