Kroes and Online Child Safety: Safer Internet Day 2013

The Internet is a great place for kids to be – somewhere they can play and learn, socialise and explore.

Of course there are risks online – just like in the real world. But the fact is you can’t hope the Internet will go away: it won’t, digital skills are massively important for tomorrow’s jobs, and kids need to learn how to go online safely and responsibly. So it’s time for us all to work together to promote a better, safer Internet for kids.

That’s my message for Safer Internet Day 2013.

There are many different people who need to help build a better internet for kids. The private sector, in particular, can do a lot: after all, there the ones who often create and run websites, software, networks and devices. Showing that they’re “thinking safety” wouldn’t just be good for kids – it would be good for their bottom line: many children and parents do worry about this subject, and it’s time they saw the private sector as part of the solution, not part of the problem.

So I’m delighted that our “Internet coalition” of 31 leading companies, which we set up just over a year ago, has now reported: setting a new online industry benchmark for child protection. And look at how much progress has been committed after one year of collective work across sectors!

- Tools to report online abuse or bullying are now becoming universal.

- More and more of the devices you see for sale (from computers and mobiles, to games consoles and connected TV sets) will have parental control options.

- Age ratings, a long-standing and well-known feature for movies and video games, are starting to appear for apps and online content too – and the coalition will be working further on aligning systems to help this.

I will follow closely and make sure these leading companies deliver on their commitment in 2013 and beyond. And I would like to see the whole industry moving in the direction of child safety by default.

I hope tomorrow’s devices and services will have the tools to build trust, and make it easy for kids to have a safe, fun time online. We’ve already seen a lot of progress, and I’m confident that will continue.

Of course internet safety isn’t just for companies : it’s everyone’s responsibility. From public authorities, to parents and teachers, to children who need to know their rights and responsibilities, and “connect with respect“.  That’s the theme of today’s Safer Internet Day – a network of events across 100 countries in and outside Europe, from competitions to social media campaigns. Check out what’s on near you, or let us know what you’re doing with Twitter hashtag #SID2013.

The Internet — open, free, innovative — offers so many benefits for children and adults. But you’re not truly free online unless you’re safe. And with simple tools we can ensure the best benefits for everyone.

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