As adults we see the power and potential of the internet to help our kids feel included and connected to the world. But we also understand the risks that come with it. So how can we make the internet a safe, inclusive space for all?
On the back of Safer Internet Day we have spoken to young people and their parents about how they navigate the world online. We’ve seen that the internet is a powerful tool to forge friendships across the globe, learn from the comfort of your phone, drive discussions and change attitudes. We’ve also seen the dangers it can pose for young people, the divisiveness and polarisation it can fuel and the platform it can provide for bullying, sexism and discrimination.
In our own international programs we identify that the internet presents an opportunity to access learning and employment. Our programs recognise that girls and boys have different experiences online and are subject to different online risks, so information and education provided to children needs to be age and gender appropriate. This applies just as well here as it does overseas and is worth taking into account when talking to your own kids.
So how can we help kids form the kind of internet they want to see: one where people can socialise, share, have safe discussions free from abuse and feel included?
In Pakistan the internet is providing opportunities for girls to bridge gaps fuelled by gender inequality. It provides better economic and education opportunities and a community of support. Yet in marginalised communities gender discrimination, a lack of confidence, language difficulties, low literacy and a lack of money prevent girls and young women from taking full advantage of technology.
Plan International in Pakistan set up a Safe Internet and School Outreach program with ICT labs so that teachers and girls could be trained on computing, digital learning and online safety.
This not only provides a wealth of opportunities for women and girls facing marginalisation because of their gender, it also means that there is a growing community of young people all over the globe who have the opportunity to share and learn from each other.
It will take a global effort to make the internet a safe, inclusive space for everyone. But our kids are well equipped to help drive it.
We’re bringing together a community that is raising global citizens by sharing knowledge and experiences and empowering young people to reach their full potential. If you’d like to be a part of it, sign up here.