U.N. emphasizes education as it observes Safer Internet Day

Feb. 11, 2014 at 6:01 PM
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GENEVA, Switzerland, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- The United Nations says it is focusing on education strategies to promote greater online safety for children and young people as part of Safer Internet Day.

"Safer Internet Day is such a great example of how the international community can collaborate in a harmonized way to create a better environment for our children," said Hamadoun I. Toure, secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union.

The ITU is promoting its Child Online Protection initiative, which offers comprehensive sets of guidelines for children, parents, teachers, policymakers and members of the tech industry.

"ITU has a global reach, but we also understand how important it is to act at the local level within our communities," Toure said in a video message released on Safer Internet Day. "Step by step, by empowering and involving children, young people, parents and teachers, we're striving to educate the next generation on what it means to be a good and responsible global citizen."

About half of all European children have online access in their bedrooms and a quarter of 12- to 15-year-olds own a computer tablet, but children's online safety skills have failed to rise at the same rate as their adoption of new applications and devices, the ITU based in Geneva, Switzerland, said.

"Sexting," bullying, unsolicited explicit content (sex and violence) and sexual approaches from strangers have become routine online dangers modern teenagers face, yet studies show adults' knowledge of what young people are doing online is often 'vague and complacent,'" the agency said.

Better education in online safety is needed for parents, teachers and pupils, starting as early as 5 years of age, it said.

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