WTF Is Safer Internet Day?


The Internet is an endless resource for education, entertainment and discovery. But there are dangers too

If you, like the character Phil Dunphy from Modern Family , think ‘WTF’ in the headline means ‘Why the Face’, then you are probably the target of Safer Internet Day,

​Coordinated by the UK Safer Internet Centre – a partnership between Childnet, the South West Grid for Learning and the Internet Watch Foundation – the day sees hundreds of organisations play their part in helping to promote the safe, responsible and positive use of digital technology for children and young people.

The initiative is also part-funded by the European Union (EU) and part of the Insafe-INHOPE network to spread the message to over a hundred countries.

Providing resources for children, schools and families, Safer Internet Day seeks to highlight the positive uses of technology and calls on young people, parents, carers, teachers, social workers, law enforcement, companies and policymakers to help create a better and safer internet.

More than 1,600 organisations in the UK have signed up to take part in the day and are putting on activities across the country. This includes 1,160 schools and colleges, 116 charity organisations and 148 businesses.

child playing with tablet

Online dangers

Several businesses have released research to coincide with Safer Internet Day 2017 and illustrate the dangers children face when they go online.

For example, Microsoft’s Digital Civility Index (DCI), which measures consumers’ lifetime exposure to online risks, serves to emphasise the dangers facing young people in today’s ultra-connected world.

The survey found that 45 percent of respondents had been exposed to some form of online risk in their lifetime, although this is significantly lower than the worldwide average which stands at 65 percent. Intrusive was the most common online risk category at 34 percent, followed by Behavioural (18 percent), Sexual (14 percent) and Reputational (7 percent).

Furthermore, 23 percent of consumers in the UK experienced their most recent online risk within the past month, 6 percent said the most recent online risk happened within the past week and 4 percent reported that risks were encountered every/almost every time they go online.

And these risks are causing worries for parents. According to Intel Security, 79 percent of parents are concerned about their children interacting with a predator or criminal online, yet 40 percent of them do not monitor their children’s online activities.


Research from Norton follows a similar trend, with 86 percent of parents admitting to being concerned about their children’s safety on the internet. More than half worry their children will be bullied or harassed (57 percent) or will be lured away by a stranger (60 percent), and three in four believe children today are more exposed to online dangers than five years ago.

Furthermore, 48 percent of parents believe their children are more likely to be bullied online than at school in the playground, highlighting the new landscape

In addition to cyberbullying, parents also worry that their children might download malicious programs or apps (66 percent), disclose too much personal information to strangers (65 percent) say or do something online that makes the whole family vulnerable (54 percent) or post something that will negatively impact their future job or university prospects (51 percent).

But it’s not just parents that are concerned as, according to Kaspersky Lab, 49 per cent of 10-15 year olds in the UK are scared or worried about going online. 

Over one in five (21 per cent) of children worry that a stranger might bully them, 18 per cent worry that a stranger might ask them to do something they’d be uncomfortable with, or something that’s illegal (13 per cent) and ten per cent worry that strangers would still have access to information they have posted online even after they have deleted it.

“The benefits of children being online and connected are numerous. So it’s easy to forget that children and young people are inherently vulnerable and may expose themselves to danger, whether knowingly or unknowingly, when using the internet and connected devices,” said David Emm, principal security researcher at Kaspersky Lab.

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