FLOW Jamaica is embarking on a year-long comprehensive, online safety awareness programme called Connected and Protected, which is expected to promote better Internet use among parents, elders, children and young people.
Under the initiative, several activities will be rolled out throughout the year such as a Safer Internet Day summit on February 7, Seniors' Online Safety Forum on February 21, resumption of the Online Safety Ambassador programme from March to May, online safety sessions with parents from June to August and online safety sessions with seniors and volunteers from September to November.
Vice-president and general manager at Flow Jamaica Stephen Price stressed that there needs to be a push for more online safety and responsible Internet use.
"This year, we wanted to bring it all together, whole bunch of activities that we have been doing around online safety in a more structured, year-long safety campaign," he said.
"Having brought connectivity to so many, we also want to ensure that along with the access, there is the knowledge of how to be safe online, and use the Internet responsibly. We are engaging parents and caregivers, teachers, educators, social workers, children, young people, seniors, decision-makers, and politicians to join the connected and protected movement," Price added.
Commending Flow on its initiative, Jamaica Teachers' Association President La Sonja Harrison noted that the Internet "is a world out there by itself" and children are in need of guidance to use it effectively.
She also urged parents to take better responsibility in ensuring appropriate Internet use among their children.
"Parents need to wake up and smell the coffee and recognise that they can't leave their children to be grown by the Internet. You do not use their tablets and gadgets as behaviour modification tools. You are actually exposing them to more harm than good. You want to keep the child quiet or you want to be able to be free to do your own thing, so instead of parenting the child, you hand them a device and so we see too many of our children who are being socialised by that which they interface on the Internet," she told the Jamaica Observer.
"It is a good initiative, let's see the impact that it will have on our children because they are certainly misguided in some parts and as teachers we are affected by that because all of the symptoms that come from their consumption of negative content, we see that being displayed in the classroom and so teachers have additional duties," Harrison added.
Meanwhile, president of the National Secondary Students' Council Dannyelle-Jordan Bailey said she is looking forward to the initiative, as it will help to promote proper Internet use among students.
"It is a good means for students to be able to voice their concerns about what they experience in the online platform and also for them to share the various benefits they have garnered from it such as aiding in their academics and positive socialising, as well as a means for them to build tolerance and understand persons with other beliefs and other values," she said.
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