The technological age in which children and adolescents are immersed exposes them to diverse content areas, enables them to keep in touch with friends, enriches them and enables them to develop technological skills. This being said, it is precisely this space where our children may need to deal with complicated situations such as exposure to inappropriate content, offensive social situations and even cases of abuse bordering on criminality.
In order for cyberspace to be protected and safe, it is important to strengthen and consolidate the limits of behavior on the Net. These limits protect us. They give us stability and a sense of belonging, they help us develop and adjust optimally into the various spaces in our lives. The focus on limits includes reference to internal boundaries as well - boundaries we set for ourselves, and external boundaries such as standards of behavior, procedures and laws and the safeguarding of rights.
Despite the sense of limitless freedom, there are boundaries on the Net as well;
- There’s a limit to offensive behavior on the Net - we must observe proper, respectful standards of behavior
- There’s a limit to spreading of compromising, embarrassing pictures and videos (of myself and of others) - we must exercise discretion before we share
- There’s a fine line between pranks and criminality
- There’s a limit to the details we should share - we must safeguard privacy and we must secure our personal information
- There’s a limit to the indifference of those of us who “stand on the sidelines” - we must take a stand beside the victims
- There’s a limit to screen time - we must be balanced in the amount of time we spend looking at screens
- There’s a limit to the exposure to inappropriate content - we must be careful to be exposed only to suitable content
- There’s a limit to what we must cope with alone - when in distress, we must get help
The Goals of the National Week
Recognizing the center-stage position the Internet occupies in our lives, the European Union has set Safer Internet Day for early February of every year. This day is dedicated to the creation of a safe Internet space for all users, primarily children.
Israel has already been devoting an entire week to the issue of safe Internet usage for 13 consecutive years. During this week, Israel joins up with over 130 other countries, which will be marking the International Safer Internet Day on February 5.
Each year the International Safer Internet Day and the National Safer Internet Week are dedicated to raising awareness among children and adolescents, parents and professionals in Israel and worldwide, to smart, responsible use of the Internet and of values-based, responsible and protected online Internet behavior. During this week, professionals raise awareness of risk situations lurking on the Internet, of preventing hurtful situations, of the importance of privacy protection when it comes to others and to safeguarding the right to privacy.
The Child Online Protection Bureau has set itself a goal of advancing the issue of safe surfing and Internet tolerance among children and adolescents. The bureau is leading the National Safer Internet Week for the first time this year jointly with the Ministry of Public Security, the Israel Police, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services and the Ministry of Justice. As part of the National Safer Internet Week’s activities, other partners from the public sector, the non-profit sector, the private and the academic sectors are joining forces with this initiative.
During this week, many different activities will be taking place all over the country, focusing on the limits to what is permissible on the Web under the banner of “Boundaries in Cyberspace". Children and teenagers will be invited to test their internal limits, to discuss the social boundaries, the legal boundaries and the line between the physical and virtual world, in order to discover the possible and permissible parts of the Web.
In addition to the activities intended for children, which will mostly be taking place during school hours, this year emphasis will be placed on activities for parents and activities within the community which can advance parental involvement in the online lives their children lead, and to encourage open dialogue between them and their children about limits on the Web.
During the National Week, the Child Online Protection Bureau and the ministries partnering in this initiative will be holding various special activities on the issue of boundaries on the Web:
The Child Online Protection Bureau 105
- Online sessions in the schools: During the week, the bureau will be uploading a daily program onto its YouTube channel [in Hebrew] with experts from the bureau and from the various ministries, and with youths participating in the program. The focus will be on limits on the Web and on providing tools for safe browsing. The broadcast will be uploaded daily in the morning hours and will be broadcast in schools during special lessons dedicated to this issue as part of a joint venture with the Ministry of Education. During the broadcasts and in the hours following them, the National Bureau’s experts will be available to answer the audience’s questions on its Facebook page.
- Online panels at institutions of higher education: panels at universities and colleges with representatives from academia, youths from the Science Oriented Youth program and representatives of the bureau. The panels will be broadcast live on the radio channels of the hosting institutions.
- Lectures by bureau employees: during the National Safer Internet Week, bureau employees will be giving lectures to hospitalized children and youths, to boarding school students, at academic forums etc.
- For the first time, youths that have been selected from the various ministries will be getting together for a festive kick-off session at the bureau’s offices. The youths will serve in an advisory capacity to the bureau on implementing the various projects which will be put together later on.
The Ministry of Public Security – Israel Anti-Violence, Drug & Alcohol Authority
As part of the Safer Internet Week, the Authority will be leading activities within local authorities around the country. These will include lectures, workshops and events with special emphasis on work within the community, in the informal educational institutions and among parents in the afternoon and evening hours.
Consistent with the banner topic of “Boundaries in Cyberspace”, the Authority’s activities will focus mainly on the Internet “Bystanders” - placing limits on indifference and disengagement: when we see offensive behavior we act - we respond, we disagree with the offensive act, we take a stand alongside the victim and if necessary we report the behavior.
The activities will be taking place jointly and in coordination with all of the relevant entities in the community. These will include seminars, lectures by experts and police officers, workshops, development of a community-wide covenant on safe browsing, holding a town-wide march and gathering, activities in schools involving the educational staff and the protection coordinators, parent activities including, among others, the parental patrols, informational activities on the local authority’s websites and on the social media channels.
Hundreds of officers from the Juvenile Section - Investigation Division, from Community Policing, from the Cyber Unit and Unit 105 at Lahav 433 will be giving lectures at schools and within the community. The activity will be integrated by the Juvenile Section at Israel Police. It is based on a presentation on safe surfing developed by the Juvenile Section together with the Ministry of Education for the use of the police officers.
Ministry of Education
The Ministry of Education will encourage students to ask questions about the different aspects of boundaries online and will help the students develop skills to behave with judgement, with respect and sensitivity to themselves and to others.
The Ministry of Education is preparing a variety of activities and information for students, parents and teachers. All these will be published in the newsletter for education staffs.
Activities for students:
- 'Life Skills' lessons, adjusted for different ages and cultural groups
- 'Internet Academy' – online lectures by representatives from the Ministry of Education, NGOs and other organizations
- Peer student groups for safe surfing
- Frontal lectures at the schools provided by police officers, high-tech employees and representatives of non-profit organizations
- Dissemination of information leaflets and brochures
Activities for teachers:
- Training sessions for educational staff within the schools, and district conventions
Activities for parents:
- Joint parent-child activities (circles of conversation)
- Dissemination of information leaflets and brochures
To register for activities and to receive updates on the material, click through to the Educational Cloud and the ShefiNet website [both in Hebrew].
Ministry of Health
During the week, the Ministry of Health will be focusing on activities for hospitalized children, who have been subjected to prolonged periods of geographic separation and some even physical separation (quarantine) from their friends and families. The activities will include lectures and workshops for children and adolescents, lectures for the ward staff and joint parent-child conversation circles.
Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services will be providing lectures at remedial boarding schools under its responsibility and will be distributing informational material at the welfare departments, within the community and on the Ministry’s website.
Ministry of Justice – State's Attorney
The Cyber Department in the Attorney General’s Office will be holding lectures on safe surfing as has been the practice every year.
The business sector, technology corporations, non-profit organizations
Representatives of many organizations from the business sector and the non-profit sector will be providing frontal lectures and online lectures at schools and in the community.