There is some good news for parents with Facebooking kids. Facebook and Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) have come together to bring Internet Safety Education programs for students between the age group of 13 to 17. The education programs will train children, teachers and parents on how to reap maximum benefits from internet while not compromising on their safety and security (News Source: WAT).
As per this setup, Facebook safety specialists will work with IAMAI trainers on safety content and participate in the training programs called ‘Safe Surfing’ that IAMAI has been conducting since the past four years. The long term program also plans to target NGOs working on child safety.
To start with, the extensive program will be rolled out across Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad to cover 18000 students across approximately 30 schools and institutions immediately in the first phase. This will be concluded with a national conference in Delhi addressing online child safety issues later this year. Additionally, it has been reported that the program will be extended to other Indian cities through 2014.
Outcome of the earlier PIL?
The announcement of Facebook’s collaboration with IAMAI to educate about online safety for children in the 13 to 17 age group, comes at a crucial date. It was the date set by the Delhi court, where the court had asked Facebook to provide suggestions on tackling the exploitation of Indian children on the popular social network.
Earlier in April, a PIL was filed by KN Govindacharya, a former BJP ideologue and RSS patron in the Delhi High Court as to how children below 18 years are accessing Facebook. Expressing concern over children being exploited on social networking sites like Facebook, the court had asked the sites to submit suggestions on safety measures for online usage of such sites by minors in India. They were given four weeks time to submit their suggestions.
Counsel from Facebook Inc. stated that the network operated under the ‘Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)’, a US law as per which a child below 13 is not allowed to open an account. But, this argument was challenged by the bench as it did not concern the rights of Indian children. The court had asked the network to provide suggestions on protecting the rights of Indian children just as it did for American children, and had fixed the hearing date as July 16.
While the press statement does not mention the newly launched program as an answer to the PIL, Ankhi Das, Director of Public Policy, Facebook India does talk about the importance of children’s safety and how we can all make smart choices by talking about safety.
“Safety is an ongoing conversation between parents and kids, teachers and students, companies and the people who use the Internet. We encourage parents to have conversations about safety and technology early and often, in the same way that they talk to their kids about being safe at school, in the car, on public transportation or playing sport. Let’s keep talking about safety so that we can all make smart choices, wherever we are.”
Indeed, smart choices to protect our children are the need of the hour. This is a brilliant move by Facebook and IAMAI, one that should have been implemented when the social network reduced its age of joining the network to 13 from the earlier 18 years.
Image courtesy: blog.hicubes.com