Socially Aware Programs Promote a Safer Internet

Safer Internet Day, just observed on February 11th, is an annual day designed to raise awareness and promote events related to internet safety, an issue particularly relevant in these days when of target hacking, threats to personal info security and NSA surveillance. As more people gain access to digital technologies and the digital divide becomes smaller, it’s important to ensure that internet users, especially children and the young, stay safe.

This year’s motto is “Let’s create a better internet together”. And how is that possible? With initiatives such as Surf Smart Badge, created by World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts) with help from internet security giant Symantec. The initiative helps inform young people about the importance of staying safe online and how they can protect themselves. ​It teaches them how to identify issues and find solutions that are most relevant to their context. ​It also highlights common issues girls and young women face with respect to internet safety.

It was first piloted in France, Germany and the UK throughout 2012. WAGGGS held a consultation with the participating Member Organizations to discuss issues specific to each country and to ensure that Surf Smart was relevant to their members. The curriculum encourages young people to undertake activities from the curriculum and earn a Surf Smart badge. It includes activities for different age groups which can be carried out with or without access to a computer. It has been expanded to 13 African nations last year. So far 4,500 girls and trainers have received their surf smart badge.

But it’s not only children and young people who are vulnerable. Any internet user can be targeted by hackers and scammers. Therefore, everyone should take precautions. Symantec has published a blog post with some useful tips on how to stay safe online. It highlights how social networks are the most popular form of internet use, therefore it has become an obvious target for cyber ​-​criminals.

“If you take the time to understand the privacy settings and additional security features offered to you on these services, you are taking the first step towards being safer and more secure online. Additionally, if you know who is after your information and the various ways they will try to trick you into giving up that information, you can make better decisions about what links to click, what posts to share, and where it is safe to type in your password,” it says. ​

Image credit: Symantec