Today is officially Safer Internet Day 2009 (SID 09), which traditionally aims to help educate web surfers and children about the dangers of Internet use and how to stay safe. This year's focus has been placed on cyber-bullying and the risks of social networking sites, such as Facebook.
The day is usually marked by a wide array of activities that take place across Europe and the world, ranging from press-conferences and workshops for children to rock concerts and seminars for educators and parents:
Social networking is the means by which we can choose to give an image of ourselves to the world. The full consequences of what we show through this are impossible to judge. The image can become distorted and our profile tainted. By the same token we have to exercise some caution as to what might be lying behind the mirror.
Social networking and other new forms of communication may help the bully taunt his or her target; but in order to combat cyberbullying what is paramount is an awareness of the possible consequences. The bullies' excuses that "what started as a prank went too far" or that they "never meant any harm" can only be tackled by showing what harm is caused by this anti-social behaviour. Reasons enough, we hope, why Insafe through the medium of Safer Internet Day is focusing this year on social networking and cyberbullying.
In related news, MSN's Research division has revealed that 51% of the 20,000 14 to 19-year-olds surveyed across Europe enjoy unrestricted access to the web. The study also revealed that 29% of teenagers had suffered online bullying.
Happily British parents were most likely (77%) to employ filtering software and to talk to their children about what they do online (87%). Sadly the survey did not exclude 18 and 19 year olds, which most would consider to be of 'adult' age.
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