6.8 Media literacy and safe use of new media
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The “National Strategy for a better Internet for children in Cyprus” (Εθνική στρατηγική για ένα καλύτερο διαδίκτυο για τα παιδιά στην Κύπρο) is the official document addressing media literacy and the safe use of new media for young people in the island. The document was approved by the Cyprus Council of Ministers in 19 December 2017 and it covers the period 2018-2023.
The purpose of the national strategy for safe use of the Internet by children is to provide children with the opportunities and conditions for using the Internet creatively, safely, morally, and responsibly. The strategy is aimed at all stakeholders that contribute to the existence and development of the Internet, its content and services – and not just to the recipients and users of the Internet – in order to provide policy guidelines through priorities, conditions and incentives for developing measures and actions that promote a better internet for children. Some of the aims of the National Strategy include:
- the provision of opportunities for Internet users to develop the necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes to use the Internet (e.g., through educational programs).
- raising awareness of internet providers on the creative and secure internet
- educating children and all those involved in children’s development on the safe use of the Internet
- exploiting all opportunities through formal, informal, and non-formal learning to create a culture of safe use of the Internet by all stakeholders.
Based on the above-mentioned aims, the National Strategy focuses on four priorities of action. These are:
- raising awareness, training and utilization
- high quality online material for children and young people
- ensuring secure internet infrastructure and environment
- to combat racism and xenophobia and sexual exploitation of children
Each of the priorities is analysed into measures, actions and tasks as well as the institution/authority responsible for their implementation.
As stated in the document, the priorities address all population groups while also targeting specific groups such as minorities, immigrants and refugees, parents, and very young children. At the same time, emphasis will be placed on content related to the treatment of racist behaviour, intimidation, sexual exploitation of minors, digital identity, and personal data.
For the purposes of the implementation, coordination, and monitoring of the “National Strategy for a better Internet for children in Cyprus”, an inter-ministerial committee has been set up consisting of the:
- Minister of Education, Culture, Sports and Youth
- Minister of Justice and Public Order
- Minister of Energy, Commerce and Industry
- Minister of Transport, Communications and Works
- Commissioner of Electronic communications and Postal Regulation (Γραφείο Επιτρόπου Ρυθμίσεως Ηλεκτρονικών Επικοινωνιών και Ταχυδρομείων).
The official document mentions that the committee will meet quarterly to prepare quarterly progress reports and suggestions for improvement. However, the outcomes/monitoring results of the reports are not available online and to the public. The document also states that upon completion of the National Strategy, the committee will prepare a final report on the implementation of the Strategy.
Media literacy and online safety education are both included in the curriculum of several obligatory and optional school subjects of secondary education, such as in Modern Greek through topics of critical text editing, dangers of using the internet; in Civic Education through topics of active citizenship via Internet and responsible online behaviour; in Computer Science through internet security.
The European project “CyberSafety – A better internet for Children” (CyberSafety – Καλύτερο Διαδίκτυο για τα Παιδιά), run by the Cyprus Pedagogical Institute, aims to create a safe internet culture by empowering creative, innovative and critical citizens in the digital society. The project consists of four main pillars:
- The awareness platform where actors (teachers, parents and students aged 5-18) can find pedagogical resources and tools, share experiences, expertise and good practices.
- The operation of the Helpline 1480 (Γραμμή Βοήθειας Helpline 1480) where all actors get advice and support by trained supporters/helpers in real time on issues related to their use of online technologies.
- The operation of the Hotline 1480 (Γραμμή Καταγγελιών Hotline 1480) where all actors can report illegal content or actions related to illegal child sexual abuse material, racism and xenophobia.
- The establishment of the CYberSafety Youth Panel (Ομάδα Νέων) that expresses views and exchanges knowledge and experiences on the creative and safe use of the Internet and digital technologies.
For the last three bullet points, please read more information at the section 7.7.
Under the CYberSafety project, two main actions/programmes are running in schools of all educational levels. These are:
- Young coaches for Internet 2.0 (Μικροί Εκπαιδευτές στο Διαδίκτυο 2.0)
- E-Safe schools (Ασφαλές Σχoλείο για το Διαδίκτυο)
Detailed information about the various seminars, workshops, conferences and lectures organised by the Cyprus Pedagogical Institute and various stakeholders under the CyberSafety project for students, parents and teachers can be found below:
- Calendar of Conferences and events, such as:
- Safer Internet Day (Ημέρα Ασφαλούς Διαδικτύου)
- ICT in the learning process (Ημερίδα “Ενσωμάτωση των Τεχνολογιών Πληροφορίας και Επικοινωνίας στη Μαθησιακή Διαδικασία”)
- Seminar about the importance of Digital Citizenship (Διημερίδα «Η καλλιέργεια της Ψηφιακής Πολιτότητας μέσω της Παιδείας για τα Μέσα»)
In addition, the Department of Educational Technology (DET) of the Cyprus Pedagogical Institute implements activities and seminars (Προγράμματα – Σεμινάρια) of continuing professional learning in topics, such as safe and responsible use of the internet.
There is not a specific policy, programme, project or initiative – either directly organised or funded – by top level authorities in Cyprus aiming at enhancing young people's media literacy and awareness about online safety issues in the context of non-formal and informal learning.
As mentioned in the sub-section about “Media literacy and online safety through formal education”, the main awareness-raising programme about the risks posted by new media is the “CyberSafety – A better internet for Children” (CyberSafety – Καλύτερο Διαδίκτυο για τα Παιδιά) run by the Cyprus Pedagogical Institute.
The CyberSafety project aims to create a safe internet culture by empowering creative, innovative and critical citizens in the digital society. One of the project’s four pillars is the development of the awareness platform where actors (teachers, parents and students) can find resources and tools, share experiences, expertise and good practices. In addition, under the CYberSafety project, there are various actions/programmes that are running in schools of all educational levels:
- “Young coaches for Internet 2.0” (Μικροί Εκπαιδευτές στο Διαδίκτυο 2.0) that aims at engaging students to educate others on the creative use and safe use of the Internet. With the guidance of their teachers and experts, junior educators are invited to develop an action plan for their school unit as well as to design and implement actions.
- “E-Safe schools” (Ασφαλές Σχoλείο για το Διαδίκτυο) that aims to provide information about the use of internet and its risks to both students and teachers as well as parents and the wider school community.
- Annual school competition for the production of an awareness-raising video on the safe use of internet (Παραγωγή σύντομου βίντεο από μαθητές)
In addition, the Youth Information Centres (YIC) of the Youth Board of Cyprus organise information days and lectures on topics of cyber-bullying, cyber-ethics and other risks in the use of Internet.