Each February, the world celebrates Safer Internet Day — a day when people all over the planet promote the safe and positive use of digital technology, especially among children and young people. And who doesn’t want a safer internet when we are all spending more time at home and online? In 2021, the message of Safer Internet Day is one that speaks to the heart of the Beyond community and why we do what we do:
“The internet starts with I & ends with T”
This year, Safer Internet Day is about asking everyone to think about “What can I do to make the internet better.”
“It’s really to emphasize that everybody — no matter who they are, be they a parent, teenager, a corporation, a government entity, or a nonprofit — has a role to play…” says Larry Magid, the CEO of ConnectSafely, the nonprofit organization that leads U.S. Safer Internet Day. “Internet ends with ‘T’ reminding us that we are all in this together. There are things we can do in terms of establishing corporate or government policies to try to make the internet a better place in every way you can imagine.”
And while we can all take personal responsibility for our own actions, we can also work together. That includes families, companies, governments and everyone else. We all have a role to play.
Making Smart Choices to Protect Online Privacy
The Beyond community is hard at work making the internet a safer place every day, and one way we do that is by pushing for policies that protect online privacy for all Americans.
The good news? Thousands of Americans have already used their voices to call for a single, national privacy law. And as the world celebrates Safer Internet Day, there are even more ways that you can help, starting with “I” and ending with “T.”
What You Can Do for Kids
It’s critical for young people to feel empowered and supported to use technology responsibly and respectfully. Parents and caregivers can model behavior for their children, and educate them on how to use technology safely. When it comes to privacy, ConnectSafely suggests that parents look at a website or app’s privacy policies to make sure you’re comfortable with the information they collect and how it is used, paying careful attention and making sure the information they’re asking for makes sense. If at any time you become uncomfortable with the information collected by an app or a service, you can change your permissions.
“We do urge parents to be more open to screen time than they might have been prior to the pandemic, because screen time is the primary way we work, play, learn, and communicate during the pandemic.” says Magid, “However, Zoom fatigue is a real thing. Families are struggling with that. Then there are privacy issues that come up with Zoom meetings.”
There is no one size fits all, Magid notes, but there are great resources and tools that can help. Many times they are offered through ISPs, like the ones on FAMFriendly.org.
What You Can Do for All Americans
When it comes to making the internet a safer and more secure place for all Americans, policymakers need to hear from people like you. ConnectSafely believes that policymakers “must also take the lead in governance and legislation and ultimately ensure the safety and wellbeing of children and young people.” America desperately needs a single, national privacy law to provide clarity and consistency on the usage of personal data.
That’s why the Beyond community is calling on Congress to enact such a law. This Safer Internet Day, you can read about the 3 C’s of privacy and add your voice to our petition for a single, national privacy law.
Ultimately, a safer and more secure internet is good for everyone. This year, Safer Internet Day is a time to bring us all together to achieve that goal. “I think it’s always a good idea to dedicate a day to focus on and spotlight an important issue.” says Magid, “Safer Internet Day is an opportunity for people around the world to look for ways to make the online world not just safer, but better.”
As part of Safer Internet Day 2021, ConnectSafely has also released a video series, including interviews with technology, media and education experts about a range of issues, from managing screen time to the spread of misinformation to online toxicity.