The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Youth and Cyta telecommunications provider organised the conference with the support of Cyprus Safer Internet Centre (SIC) partners CyberSafety, and the national strategy for a Better Internet for Kids in Cyprus. This year, the conference was held in a hybrid format due to the special conditions arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The number of participants in the conference was unprecedented, as more than 10,000 students attended from primary education, secondary general and secondary technical and vocational education and training, as well as teachers and educators, and parents and carers from all over Cyprus.
With the aim to cultivate responsibility, respect, but also the need for a critical and creative use of the internet in our lives, the conference served as a reminder of everyone’s responsibility – the state, teachers and educators, decision makers, parents and carers, young people themselves – to make the internet a better and safer place for communication, entertainment and learning purposes.
The General Director of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Youth Dr. Neophytos Papadopoulos, and the Director of Sales & Consumer Marketing of Cyta Mr. Christos Limnatitis, addressed the initial greetings at the conference.
General Director of MOEC Dr. Neophytos Papadopoulos, and Director of Sales & Consumer Marketing of Cyta Mr. Christos Limnatitis. Credits: Cyprus Safer Internet Centre
Interesting presentations, discussions and other activities promoting a safe and responsible use of the internet followed, providing more information on its creative use, but also on possible online challenges and risks. More specifically, Dr. George Giannakakis, Professor and Director of the Institute of Digital Games of the University of Malta (UM), explored the contribution of digital play and artificial intelligence to learning.
Mr. Geert Reynders from Denmark, founder of Tegen Internet Misstanden - Against Internet Abuses, shared the story of his son Tim, who lost his life due to an online challenge. Through his own personal experience, he tried to inform children and youth and to raise awareness regarding internet challenges and the need to seek for proper information and help when faced with such online risks.
Dr. George Giannakakis, Professor and Director of the Institute of Digital Games of the University of Malta (UM). Credits: Cyprus Safer Internet Centre
In addition, the thousands of students from schools all over Cyprus who attended the conference online had the opportunity to enjoy the theatre play on internet bullying "George's room", performed by the theatre group Intra portas. The purpose of the show was to make students realise that the internet cannot be used as a means of revenge to harm other people, highlighting the importance of showing courtesy and respect to all when online.
Theatre play "George's room" on cyberbullying, performed by the theatre group Intra portas. Credits: Cyprus Safer Internet Centre
Afterwards, all the participants attended an interesting round table discussion, during which the Speaker of Parliament Mrs. Annita Dimitriou, the Citizen's Commissioner Mr. Panagiotis Sentonas and members of the CYberSafety Youth Panel had the opportunity to share their opinions and exchange views.
During the discussion, the students raised concerns and questions about how Europe's Digital Decade could be shaped for children and young people. In particular, the students have addressed issues arisen from the recent #DigitalDecade4YOUth consultation work of the European Commission, the Cyprus helpline and hotline 1480 statistics, as well as their personal experiences, and shared their concerns about how to ensure that the state promotes, protects, respects and fulfills the rights of all children and young people on the internet. The Speaker of Parliament and the Citizen's Commissioner highlighted the importance of intensifying the efforts to make the online world a safe, critical and creative tool for children and youth, focusing on the need to include the voices of the younger generations when formulating relevant policies.
Table discussion with the Speaker of Parliament Mrs. Annita Dimitriou, the Citizen's Commissioner Mr. Panagiotis Sentonas, and four members of the CYberSafety Youth Panel. Credits: Cyprus Safer Internet Centre
Lastly, Natassa Bofiliou, one of the most important representatives of contemporary Greek music and performer of her generation, who is also an ambassador of the Greek Safer Internet Centre, explained the importance of using the internet as a valuable tool in our lives; however, without the cyberbullying, racism and other harmful behaviours for children and young people.
Natassa Bofiliou, one of the most important representatives of contemporary Greek music and ambassador of the Greek Safer Internet Centre. Credits: Cyprus Safer Internet Centre
Further information about the Safer Internet Day conference can be found on the Cyprus Safer Internet Centre website.
Rewatch the conference below.
Find out more about Safer Internet Day in Cyprus. Alternatively, find more information about the work of the Cyprus Safer Internet Centre, including their awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services – or find similar information for other Safer Internet Centres throughout Europe.