Safer Internet Day is an annual event to promote responsible use of the internet and encourage all citizens to be conscious of how they use the internet. This year Safer Internet Day takes place on 7th February and will be an opportunity to remind children throughout Ireland about the fantastic opportunities that the internet offers them along with also helping them negotiate the challenges that the internet can pose for them.

The theme for Safer Internet Day 2017 is ‘Be the Change’: Unite for a Better Internet. Through our work at Zeeko we certainly see this as a very important message to promote about the internet. In our recent blog about Cyberbullying we spoke about how tackling an issue like cyberbullying is everyone’s concern, in other words dealing with cyberbullying, creating awareness of ways to stay safe online and promoting responsible use of the internet is the business of the entire community. This can stretch out from parents, teachers, grandparents and in the case of teenagers to their peers. One of the key reasons that Zeeko was set up was that our Founder Joe Kenny felt that the internet is an amazing resource for children, but they do need help and support to safely navigate it. Joe soon realised that parents and teachers wanted to be learn how best to support their children to stay safe. Through our internet safety seminars which we initially delivered to primary schools but have now expanded to deliver in secondary schools we hear, on a daily basis the experiences children and teenagers throughout the country have when it comes to the internet. There are undoubtedly challenges but we see education as the key to helping children to make smart choices when using the internet.

Our Zeeko Rules have proved a very popular and effective way of helping children to stay safe and one of the first of these that we developed was the concept of a Chatbudi which links in well with the theme of this Safer Internet Day 2017. A Chatbudi is essentially a trusted adult who a child can confide in about what they are experiencing online, the good and the not so good, without fear of being punished. It can happen, particularly as children grow older that they don’t want to confide in parents as much as they used to, the idea of a Chatbudi can appeal to them as a way of keeping the lines of communication open in relation to what is going on when they are online. The more that internet safety is discussed by families, schools and as part of community activities, the safer everyone will be online. Use Safer Internet Day 2017 to start a conversation about staying safe online with your family, at school and in your workplace and be the change that leads to a better internet!

Keep an eye on the Zeeko social media channels on February 7th as we will be sharing tips for staying safe online. #SID2017