Today, Tuesday 10th February, marks Safer Internet Day across the UK and in more than a hundred other countries across the world. Designed to promote the safe, responsible and positive use of digital technology for children and young people, the cyber celebration continues to grow in relevance as increasing numbers of children venture online.
Aimed at young people, parents and carers, the initiative aims to raise awareness of cyberbullying but at the same time highlight the positive aspects of children's online experiences. With support from internet companies, politicians and celebrities, and featuring a host of digital promotional content courtesy of the UK Safer Internet Centre (UKSIC), the day has grown in prominence as online interaction now regularly reaches the youngest in society.
The challenges faced in creating a safer online environment have been highlighted in a survey published by the UKSIC to coincide with today's events. Based on interviews with more than 1000 young people, the survey discovered that nearly a third of 11-16 year-olds have been a victim of cyberbullying online in the last year. As well as reporting the benefits online interaction can bring, and how important technology now is in young people's lives, the survey also found that over a quarter of 11-16 year-olds currently use six or more social media networks or messaging apps on a weekly basis, with YouTube and Facebook the most popular platforms for online interaction within this demographic.
By highlighting such information, the UKSIC hoping to stimulate dialogue between parents and children about the positive use of these online environments and others, including Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp, Skype and Minecraft, that are now an established feature of a growing number of young people's daily lives.
For these ubiquitous social media services, and the internet providers through which access is given, there is a growing demand that there are responsible, robust and transparent safeguards set out for users. Where a substantial proportion of these users are now vulnerable parties such as children, organisations are encouraged to incorporate appropriate privacy and reporting functionality from the outset as part of the overall design of their platform