Blog: Safer Internet Day 2017

Millicom's lead specialists regularly report on important new activities within their own areas of expertise. Milka Pietikainen, as VP Corporate Responsibility, highlights the importance of Safer Internet Day 2017 and calls on all stakeholders, including all parents, to help make the internet a safer and better place, especially for children and young people.

February 2017: 'Be the change: Unite for a better internet'.

On 7 February, Safer Internet Day is celebrated in more than 100 countries worldwide as a global effort to raise awareness of the importance of working towards creating a safer online environment for everyone.

We at Millicom join in this celebration and are proud to do our part, with our partners, to provide our customers with both the information and the resources they need to be safe online.

In the past few years we have focused on promoting the safe use of internet to a group who can gain a lot from digital inclusion but who can also be particularly vulnerable online: children.

GSMA research that we sponsored in Honduras last year showed familiar trends which highlight well the importance of the topic for us: the increase of use and access to smartphones, and hence internet, by younger and younger children, coupled with concern among parents over the time children spend on their devices and the content they may access.

Interviews with children confirmed the parents' worries: 67% of children who participated in the research said they had ‘friends’ in social media they did not know in real life, 43% had fully public profiles on social media, and only 24% would tell their parents if they experienced something they were not comfortable with online.

Open dialogue between adults and children is key to keeping children safe online.

Just as in the offline world, parents should know where their children go online, who they interact with and how they behave towards others.

© Child Online Protection campaign - Tigo Honduras

© Child Online Protection campaign - Tigo Honduras

As a provider of internet access, Millicom can play a key role in igniting this dialogue and supporting awareness of teachers, parents and children about safety and responsible behaviour online.

Bringing up aware and responsible digital citizens opens up huge opportunities to children in their education, access to information and their ability to exercise their rights as citizens of the world.

In 2016, we conducted more than 1,800 learning sessions on child online protection across Latin America, reaching more than 120,000 children, 14,800 teachers and 13,000 parents. Many were trained by our own volunteers.

We provide information on online safety that is directed at parents, with leaflets on display in our shops and, in 2017, information available through an online portal.

We also participate in building frameworks for integral and long-term solutions to child online safety through focused national committees, legal reform and participating in the global fight against child sexual abuse content online.

To stir this type of development, we have initiated multi-stakeholder child online protection workshops in seven
of our markets in partnership with GSMA, UNICEF, ICMEC, INHOPE as well as local child rights organizations and
government agencies – but most importantly, often with children themselves.

Writing this on Safe Internet Day, I’d like to welcome and encourage everyone to join us in looking out for the
safety of our children online.

Please get in touch with us if we can work together. And for my fellow parents, let us take a moment today to talk to
our children about their life online – very likely we will learn something new!