Croatian Telecom Launches Initiative for Safer Internet for Children

Total Croatia News

“Share the positive, block the negative” is the slogan of the initiative.

Croatian Telecom (HT) has presented an initiative “Share the positive, block the negative” that includes academic community, NGOs and government institutions which jointly strive to increase the level of safety for children on the internet, reports on February 21, 2017.

The main partners of the initiative are NGOs Hrabri Telefon and the Society for Communication and Media Culture (DKMK), whose representatives are coordinators of EU Kids Online, the largest international project in the field of research of media habits of children.

The initiative will include a number of activities for increasing awareness and better protection of children on the internet, and the key result will be the first national comparative study of the level of safety of children on the internet, which will provide a good base for drafting national regulation in this important area.

Current data show that young people in Croatia are extremely active online, while the level of knowledge about risks and ways to protect against threats is very low. In fact, 96 percent of young people spend more than an hour a day on the internet, as much as 65 percent of children aged between seven and nine have a Facebook profile, and 50 percent of school children use social media during classes.

A study, which was conducted earlier by Hrabri Telefon and the Policlinic for Child Protection in Zagreb, pointed out the problem of risky behaviour on the internet. Almost half of young people aged between 11 and 18 regularly share personal photos on Facebook, more than a third accepts friend requests from strangers, while almost a fifth would go alone to meet in person a stranger they met online via Facebook. About a fifth of young people receive offensive messages, and children who spend three or more hours a day on Facebook have lower academic achievement.

As part of the initiative, Croatian Telecom has presented the Croatian version of the European website TeachToday. The website will contain useful content and tips on internet safety for children and parents, and the content will be continually updated by initiative partners. Also, Croatian Telecom will introduce products and services that will help parents protect their children. The first such products are smart watch for children MYKI and a unique service of parental protection for smartphones, which were presented by Richard Brešković, HT’s director of marketing for private customers.

“HT is a technology leader which brings high speed internet and the latest digital technologies to households across Croatia, which also means having a certain responsibility for security on the internet, especially when it comes to children. We are proud to be recognized as a partner that can contribute to the efforts of the initiative, which will provide safe and carefree everyday life for children and all the parents”, said Nataša Rapaić, a member of the HT’s board of directors and chief operating officer for private users.

“We have recently recorded an increased number of phone calls from children, young people and parents on topics of internet security, but we are often contacted only when a situation has become very serious. Our volunteers are providing regular advisory support to children who have experienced some form of violence on the internet and actively inform and educate parents about how to help children protect themselves when using the internet and social networks. So far, we have developed numerous educational tools for children, parents and professionals, but our reach is limited. We believe that this joint initiative with partners and with the support of Croatian Telecom will provide a significant positive contribution, which we alone could not do”, said Anamaria Vuić, a coordinator of counselling services for Hrabri Telefon.

“Existing studies conducted on the topic of child safety on the internet have given us only a partial insight into this issue in Croatia, and thanks to this initiative, we will have the first national survey in full compliance with the criteria of the EU Kids Online international project. This will provide the right basis for drafting national policy documents, training materials and harmonization with the recommendations of the European Commission and the European Parliament. Our initiative is supported by the Agency for Electronic Media, and the support has been announced by the Croatian Regulatory Authority for Network Industries”, said Igor Kanižaj, vice president of DKMK and coordinator of the Croatia’s EU Kids Online team.

“Young people today have in their hands powerful technology, but without quality guidelines how to use it the right way. Communication via the internet and social networks is direct, without the mediation of parents or other close family members, but that does not mean that young people should be left unattended. If we leave a child in a library, that does not mean that they will learn everything that is written in the books on the shelves. To master the skills they need a mentor”, said Marko Matijević, editor-in-chief of the website and an ambassador of the initiative.


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