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Safer Internet Day: Why it matters now more than ever

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Safer Internet Day is a globally recognized event aimed at encouraging safer and more responsible internet usage among youth. It occurs annually on February 6 and has been in existence since 2004.

The theme for the 2024 Safer Internet Day is “inspiring change, making a difference, managing influence, and navigating change online.”

Why Safer Internet Day Matters

This year’s Safer Internet Day is particularly significant given the current landscape of internet safety worldwide.

The UK’s enactment of the Online Safety Act in October 2024, which requires tech companies to safeguard children from inappropriate legal content, has raised concerns about its efficacy.

A tragic incident involving the murder of Brianna Ghey, a young transgender teenager, by Scarlett Jenkinson and Eddie Ratcliffe, both 15 at the time, shed light on the accessibility of disturbing content on the dark web. Brianna’s mother, Esther Ghey, initiated a petition to prohibit social media apps on minors’ devices and impose legal obligations on mobile companies for children’s online well-being.

Concurrently, in the US, the Senate conducted a hearing involving prominent Big Tech CEOs addressing children’s online safety concerns.

During the emotionally charged session, CEOs of platforms like TikTok, Snap, X, Discord, and notably Mark Zuckerberg (Meta) faced scrutiny for their alleged inaction towards the exploitation, bullying, grooming, and harmful content encountered by youngsters online. Zuckerberg was admonished for having “blood on [his/their] hands” in this regard.

This hearing was part of an ongoing dialogue around the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) and stricter regulations pertaining to internet safety in general. In essence, the proposed legislation aims to shield young individuals from advertisements and other content endorsing eating disorders, self-harm, violence, and suicide.

The issue of child safety on the internet has arguably escalated to a critical juncture, underscoring the heightened importance of occasions like Safer Internet Day.

Featured Image: Photo by Thomas Park on Unsplash

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