Almost a year ago of the pandemic, the vast majority of children have spent the majority of their time in front of computer, mobile, or phone screens, exposing them to numerous dangers such as cyber addiction or cyber bullying. World Safer Internet Day is an opportunity to raise awareness of these threats all over the world.
“Safer Internet Day (SID2021)”, the World Day for a Safer Internet, was celebrated this year (February 9) in the particular context of Covid-19. Indeed, the pandemic has completely changed the lives of millions of people around the world and increased internet use due to lockdowns and social distancing measures. For many, the internet has become the only way for younger people to work, socialize, and even learn and play.
This day, which was launched in 2004 by the European Union and which has today become an international event celebrated by more than 150 countries around the world, is an opportunity to make the world population aware of the various dangers of use. Internet, especially in this time of crisis, and to promote a better Internet among children, young people, their parents and the educational community and to encourage responsible behavior online.
In this sense, the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) called for increased efforts to better support children in their use of digital technologies, giving priority to their physical well-being.
“Unicef is very concerned about the physical and mental health of children. There is some evidence that increased time spent online leads to decreased outdoor activities, decreased sleep quality, increased symptoms of anxiety and poor eating habits, ”the agency said on Tuesday. UN in a press release.
“Digital offers many learning, entertainment and development opportunities for children and young people. They spend more and more time behind their screen and even use it to socialize. The Covid-19 pandemic has further increased the use of IT resources, including for children. However, this great freedom comes with risks.
For example, children are more exposed to cyber-harassment on social networks and on messaging platforms, to disinformation, and even to the risk of online sexual exploitation ”, adds Unicef, specifying that the Safer Internet Day should be an opportunity to redefine an online world that is more secure for children and sensitive to their physical and mental well-being.
It should be remembered that the Fund supports parents to help their children understand online and offline risks and also works in partnership with governments. The latter train health, education and social services workers who are also willing to support this awareness.
Unicef teams also work with partners in the public sectors to develop safe technologies and content, guaranteeing quality learning, in particular through initiatives such as the Unicef Reimagine Education campaign and GIGA.
In addition, the UN agency supports schools to grant children continuous access to counseling services (face-to-face or virtual) in order to respond to mental health and child protection needs and concerns.
“It is important to help children and young people to find a balance between their online and offline worlds to ensure their safety,” the Fund emphasizes.
Celebration of SID 2021 in Morocco
Launched in 2004 by the European Union and taken over by the Insafe network, a network made up of 31 national awareness centers across Europe, World Safer Internet Day was celebrated in Morocco for the first time in 2018. This The first celebration was marked by the establishment of the nucleus of the SID-Morocco committee, coordinated by the Moroccan Center for Polytechnic Research and Innovation (CMRPI), with the sponsorship of the Ministry of Industry, Investment, commerce and the digital economy. “The celebration of SID in Morocco is part of our country’s involvement in the international community for a more secure Internet of communication, and to have more impact by raising awareness of the opportunities and challenges of the Internet and promoting a better sharing of knowledge, experiences and resources, while focusing on the specificities of our country and taking into account its cultural diversity ”, underlines Youssef Bentaleb, president of CMRPI and coordinator of the national Safer Internet Day-Morocco committee .
For the 2021 edition, all awareness-raising and training activities were organized remotely because of the difficult and exceptional conditions linked to the Covid 19 pandemic. These include, among others, the launch of the Espace Maroc Cyberconfiance portal. to support Internet users and report images and videos of sexual abuse against children posted on the Internet. Two spots to educate children and parents about the dangers of the Internet were also broadcast in many schools across the Kingdom.
In addition, CMRPI held an online workshop aimed at building capacity for organizations and professionals related to child protection.
Parental guide from the Ministry of Solidarity
Many aspects of the lives of children and adolescents have been happening online, since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Faced with this situation, the Ministry of Solidarity, Women, the Family and Social Development and Unicef published, last November, a practical guide intended for parents in order to enable them to better protect their offspring from the risks involved. ‘they run online. This document brings together many practical answers for parents, in order to help them support the use of the Internet by their children according to their age and to prevent the risks associated with browsing. The guide then offers recommendations to protect the child, watch his behavior and encourage him to practice other different activities. This involves, among other things, establishing rules for how, when and where the Internet is used. In addition, the guide emphasizes the importance of parental involvement through sharing and communication.