09 February 2021

E-safety in times of pandemic

Safer Internet Day (SID) is celebrated on 9 February 2021, when millions around the globe, are joining forces “Together for a better internet”. 

Digital technologies provide us with a world of possibilities at our fingertips. Never before have we enjoyed so many opportunities to learn, exchange, participate and create. However, greater internet use also means greater exposure to online risks, especially for the youngest among us. Concerns pertaining to cybercrime, privacy, misinformation and disinformation, hate speech, cyberbullying, exposure to harmful content and predatory behaviours have grown since the advent of the coronavirus crisis. As internet users, we are all faced with the same dilemma: how do we make the most of the opportunities the digital environment brings us, while at the same time mitigating any potential negative side-effect it might entail? 

In the past year, we have collectively taken a digital leap, and digital means of communication have proven nothing short of vital for our societies to keep functioning in the face of a global health crisis.  While we recognise that celebrations may look a little different this time around as we adapt to COVID-19 constraints, we hope that SID 2021 will still be a vibrant and engaging celebration, allowing us all to reflect on our increased use of digital technologies as a result of the pandemic. 

Internet Safety at GEYC 

For us, the pandemic restrictions were seen as an opportunity to take GEYC activities to the next level and use this period of fewer activities to automate, innovate and reconsider our work. 

As e-safety has become an increasingly important issue, we focused on updating our Data protection procedure by introducing GEYC ID, a simpler and safer way to manage the data for the 4000+ members of the community and on offering digital empowerment through access to online tools and free education.

Since the beginning, GEYC worked on increasing the level of critical thinking and digital literacy, the ability to combat hate speech and cyber-crimes, promoting digital citizenship among young people, and digital youth work among youth workers, educators and teachers. In our projects, we also focused on bringing together other key stakeholders such as parents, companies, policymakers and media. Our key initiatives in the Digital field can be consulted here

* Every February since 2004, Safer Internet Day (SID) – organised by the Insafe/INHOPE network of European Safer Internet Centres (SICs) with the support of the European Commission** – has been a global, community-led observance which provides a space for all stakeholders to reflect on how together we can promote a responsible, respectful, critical and creative use of digital technologies with the ultimate goal of fostering a better internet for all. To find out more, visit SID website to get an idea of how SID committees and supporters are celebrating SID 2021, and to find a variety of resources and inspiration for your own plans. 

** Safer Internet Day would not be possible without the support of the European Commission. Currently, the funding is provided by the Connecting Europe Facility Programme (CEF). Find out more about the EC’s “European Strategy for a Better Internet for Children” on the European Commission’s website.