Partnering to promote safer digital participation and create access to quality education is the ambition that drives our Child Online Safety initiative.
Since 2014, we have been conducting outreach programs in schools nationwide to create awareness and understanding of a safer internet environment for children and to sensitize parents, guardians and teachers. In partnership with BRAC, we trained more than 130,000 students across the country and sensitized more than 20,000 parents and teachers until 2018.
In 2018 and 2019, our partnership with UNICEF enabled us to provide face to face training to about 1 million students and sensitize over 270,000 parents, teachers and guardians. Additionally, the Child Helpline 1098 provides support on any child safety issues, including online safety. In addition, through national awareness campaign over 50 million individuals were made aware on the importance of safety measures while using internet.
The shift of children’s education from offline to online platforms, during the pandemic, has made internet security a necessity. Virtual classrooms, video calling, online gaming, entertainment, and social media can all present threats by influencing what and how a child thinks. Inappropriate contents, cyber bullying, online scams, viruses, and identity theft are real problems that a child might need to face online. If we want to ensure digital independence for our children, then we need to protect them and keep them safe online.
Grameenphone has actively campaigned to spread awareness on ways to ensure a safer online experience for children through ‘Thik line-e Online-e’ social campaign over the years as well as through on-ground training sessions at schools all over Bangladesh. Since, internet connectivity has played a vital role in the continuation of education for children around the world, amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, Grameenphone continued its work on Child Online Safety program - “Be Smart, Use Heart” to create a meaningful and safer digital participation. The program was aimed to create a safer learning space for everyone, regardless of gender, location, or socio-economic background. The time to equip children with online safety guidelines is now.
The program realized the following milestones in 2020:
- Educated over 650,000 children through online education, educational broadcast and training.
- Engaged policy makers through dialogues.
- Launched online safety knowledge-based application Digiworld in Bangla (https://gpsocial.co/digiworld)
- Social advocacy campaign with Sabina continued. Also added a new dimension by including the popular UNICEF mascot Meena to promote a safer online space. The campaign generated awareness of more than 10 million people.
Internet is the source of knowledge, connectivity, and progress for all. Despite that, children of all ages are at risk of exposure to harmful content, exploitation, and abuse on the internet. This needed to stop without interfering with their digital independence. As children are most susceptible to be influenced from biased or wrong information, we found it was absolutely necessary to educate the foundation of our future on the safety measures of being online. “Thik Line-e Online-e” promotes online safety and equips children and their parents to identify potential online threats and ways to tackle them if they came to face with such threats.
Grameenphone launched a Web Series on Facebook, YouTube, and Bioscope so that children and adults could learn about internet security in fun way. A ‘Thik Line-e Online-e’ game show was organized where celebrities and community leaders were invited to participate and spread the knowledge on online safety. Pop culture inspired comic strips, PR articles, and even a very entertaining puppet show was run to guide children on how to keep themselves safe from online threats. We need to keep encouraging our children to be safe and report any anomalies they face online to nearby adults. After all, we need to keep our future safe in the wide world of the internet.
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