Safer Internet for Children
—The Internet has become a reality of the contemporary world and today we hardly imagine the life without accessing this unlimited virtual space. However, used as a source of information and knowledge, and as a way of communicating instantly, the Internet is also hiding a danger. Children, especially, can fall prey to human traffickers or became victims of sexual abuse especially while accessing Internet at night and unsupervised.
On January 24th, at the launch party of SigurOnline.md interactive portal, Daniela Misail-Nichitin, President of the International Center "La Strada", reported that „about 80% of children in cities and 70% of children in rural areas now have access to the Internet.” A recent study conducted by our Center revealed that 13.4% of cases in children aged 12 years received indecent Internet proposals from unknown persons, and 29.3% of cases in teenagers aged 16 years got direct proposals of a sexual nature. Daniela Misail-Nichitin reiterated that in this study, many children expressed interest in learning more about how to navigate safely the Internet.
Namely, this fact has fueled the idea of the International Center "La Strada" team to initiate an interactive portal www.SigurOnline.md, in partnership with the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology and State Agency MoldData. The portal’s goal is to provide the widest information to children about Internet advantages, how to safely use the virtual space as well as what dangers may it lurk. Being designed as child-friendly portal, this is not only informative but also interactive. It will give young users access to useful information about how to protect themselves from content and actions online with abusive character, how to develop a responsible attitude for the content posted, and how to report eventual abuse happen online.
— „The portal contains several sections that provide practical advice for children, parents and teachers about the safe use of the Internet. It will also host a forum where children, parents and teachers will be encouraged to comment on their concerns about the Internet and interact with specialists if needed” stated Veronica Josan, „Peer to Peer” Program Coordinator at the International Center „La Strada".
The portal also targets to make parents and teachers closer to children, to better understand the children's interests, preferences and, depending on such, orientate children to navigate safely and communicate respectfully with all persons in the cyberspace. Last but not least, it encourages adults to provide support to children in any situation, cultivating their abilities to react to danger signals in cyberspace such as in real life with traffic lights.
In terms of technical construction, the portal offers various means of communication and also networking with experts and consultants, each beneficiary selecting the preferred and available mean of communication such as phone, skype, email or online support.
This new action of Center "La Strada" is inscribed into the Safer Internet Day,
aimed at promotion of a safe and responsible use of online technology, especially by children and adolescents as well as making them consciousness and informed about the dangers while browsing the Internet unsupervised. Being supported at the European level by network INSAFE * and opening its tenth edition, the Safer Internet Day
encourages educational institutions, NGOs and the general public to get involved through various activities under the broader action entitled „Conecteaza-te cu respect” (Connect with Respect),
thus contributing to a more secured cyberspace. The initiative also appeared in response to the current situation in the online environment that the high number of Internet users experience at least once in their lifetime rudeness and disrespect via Internet often manifested behind an anonymous profile with insulting comments posted at the end of a message either an article or during various forum discussions.
The www.singuronline.md web portal was created by the International Center "La Strada" in partnership with the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology, and State Agency MoldData in the framework of the project "Strengthening National Referral System for victims and potential victims of human trafficking", implemented by the International Organization for Migration, Mission to Moldova and financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) within the CSI Anti –Trafficking Program.
* INSAFE - European Safer Internet Network is the online network that promotes, with CE support, safe and responsible use of online technology and mobile phones especially among children and adolescents.