Safer Internet Day – the 2nd Tuesday of each February – was established by the European Commission more than a decade ago and is now celebrated in more than 100 countries. It received limited support in the US until 2012, when Janet Napolitano, then secretary of Homeland Security, and Neelie Kroes, vice-president of the European Commission, signed a joint-declaration to mark the day and help make the Internet a better place for youth. In July 2013, ConnectSafely.org was appointed by the EC and its INSAFE Network as the US “node” or host of Safer Internet Day (SID).
To mark Safer Internet Day in the US in a way that is interesting and relevant to Americans and as youth-driven, collegial and nationally representative as possible – growing public awareness that a “better Internet” depends on all of us and celebrating positive practices.
Strategy for SID 2014
The EC’s theme last year was “Let’s create a better Internet together.” So our aim was to promote conversations at dinner tables, in classrooms, and at community events on Feb. 11 about the one thing Internet users have done and are doing to grow the good online. We called the campaign simply One Good Thing, encouraging people of all ages, but especially youth, to share one thing they’ve seen or done to make the Internet a better place or the world a better place using the Internet.
We jumpstarted the conversation by consulting with young people throughout the country about their experiences with technology and media and adults’ messaging, programming and news coverage thereof.
SID 2014 event
On Feb. 11, we held a youth-driven event in Washington, D.C., featuring young people’s work and plans for the social good in and with social media. The featured speaker was Sen. Charles Schumer. Opening remarks were given by EC Vice-President Neelie Kroes (via pre-recorded video) and Jenny Menna, a division director at the Department of Homeland Security. The heart of the event was an hour+ panel of student leaders from Chicago, Detroit and the Washington, D.C., area talking about all aspects of life with digital media. There was also a panel of representatives from Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Microsoft’s Xbox Live.
Plans for SID 2015
…have only just begun, but next year the event will take place on the West Coast – most probably in Silicon Valley (where the weather will make winter travel easier).
Steering Committee: ConnectSafely.org is joined by fellow nonprofit organizations Committee for Children, Common Sense Media, the Family Online Safety Institute, iKeepSafe, the Internet Education Foundation, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and the National Cyber Security Alliance (first meeting was held 9/18).
Supporters: Microsoft (anchor), Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Sprint, Symantec, Trend Micro and Twitter
Advisory Board: Our supporters plus the Department of Homeland Security, Cable Impacts Foundation, National 4-H Council, National PTA and some new advising organizations to be announced soon.