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Safer Internet tackles cyberbullying

On 10 February 2009, the sixth annual edition of Safer Internet Day was celebrated all around the world. Thousands of online and offline events run simultaneously across 50 countries of the world, with one common topic, cyberbullying.

Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Information Society and Media, and patron of Safer Internet Day since 2005, also awarded the six winners of the Safer Internet Day quiz at a ceremony in Luxembourg. The winners from Austria, Germany, France, Latvia, Poland and the United Kingdom travelled to Luxembourg to receive their prize through the support of sponsors’ cable operator Liberty Global Inc, Microsoft, the Interactive Software Federation of Europe (ISFE) and its PEGI online initiative, and the INHOPE network of hotlines.

Stop bullying online!

Cyberbullying was at the heart of this year’s celebration. Cyberbullying means threaten, harassing, humiliating, embarrassing or otherwise targeting a child, preteen or teen by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones. 

A push for social awareness about this problem is indeed necessary as a rise in bullying among children and adolescents through interactive technologies (online games, emails, Internet forums, text messaging, mobile and other electronic devices) has been noticed during the past few years (see e.g. http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/flash/fl_248_en.pdf). 

If social networks enable people to connect across borders, they also make harder for local or even national measures to tackle this problem alone. To tackle cyberbullying in an efficient way, it is important to share common strategies.

Pan-European actions against cyperbullying

The video clip produced by the European Commission to inform and empower teenagers on cyberbullying is part of this common effort.  This video clip features a young girl who is being bullied online, but takes control by reporting this to her social networking site.

Block bullying online! Keep it fun, keep control” is the final message of the video. It shows young people that there are solutions to the problems they may face on the Internet. The video closes with the website and phone number where teenagers can find help and advice in their country.

This pan-European campaign will cover all EU Member States, Iceland and Norway as part of the activities of the Safer Internet programme. A longer version of the video will be posted on popular websites among teenagers such as Arto, Skyrock, Piczo, Habbo Hotel, Myspace UK, YouTube, Dailymotion, and BeboIE.

In addition, the Commission has encouraged social networking companies to self-regulate through the adoption of an agreement on child safety. 17 social networking sites active in Europe have signed the agreement. These are: Arto, Bebo, Dailymotion, Facebook, Giovani.it, Google/YouTube, Hyves, Microsoft Europe, Myspace, Nasza-klaza.pl, Netlog, One.lt, Skyrock, StudiVZ, Sulake/Habbo Hotel, Yahoo!Europe, and Zap.lu. An agreement of this kind had already been signed by mobile operators in the EU in 2007.

Online resources for safer internet

The blogathon that has marked Safer Internet Day over the past three years and given young people everywhere the opportunity to express their thoughts on online safety has been replaced this year by a virtual fair. Participating countries and leading organisations across the world have started to set up their profile and will soon offer their resources, each in their own virtual ‘pavilion’.

Visitors can wander around the fair, watch a video show in the central auditorium or leave their comments in guest books in the pavilions they visit. The fair, set up with the support of Insafe’s golden sponsor Liberty Global, will stay open to the public for a limited period of time at www.SIDfair.org, but will become gradually a permanent members-only collaboration platform to reinforce the efforts of internet safety organisations worldwide.

Another initiative -launched around Safer Internet Day 2009 is the online version of Insafe’s eSafety toolkit, the print version of which is currently available in twelve European countries. The e-safety kit portal will gradually unfold its various country versions. Launched on Safer Internet Day last year and developed in partnership with our golden sponsor, the e-safety toolkit has proved such a resounding success it has recently been translated in Turkish and Arabic.

Further information:

See the video clip: http://www.keepcontrol.eu
Visit the virtual fair: http://www.SIDfair.org

About Insafe

Insafe is the European Safer Internet awareness-raising network co-funded by the European Commission. It comprises national contact centres across the European Union and in Iceland and Norway, with partner organisations in Argentina, Australia and the USA. Insafe aims at empowering users to benefit from the positive aspects of internet whilst avoiding the potential risks. Further information is available at www.saferinternet.org or contact info-insafe@eun.org

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