After the success of the first phase, CyberPeace Foundation and WhatsApp today announced the launch of the second phase of its ‘Cyber Ethics and Online Safety Program’ for students. The program will be extended to Assam, Rajasthan and Gujarat and aims to reach 10,000 students on important topics related to CyberSecurity and Online Safety. Launched in consultation with UNICEF and state police authorities, the Program will train teachers, parents and students using a co-created curriculum and equip them with tips and tricks to increase online safety for children. At the end of these training sessions, the participants will create a “CyberPeace Club” to ensure that this knowledge is further institutionalized and manage a repository of guidance that other students can refer to for boosting online safety.
Speaking about the successful culmination of the first phase while launching the second leg of the program, Capt. Vineet Kumar said, “At CyberPeace Foundation our mission and values are aligned as we continue to establish frameworks and disciplines to minimize online harms and maximize the benefits that technology enables and equips people with. We value this important association with WhatsApp that empowers people with education about Digital Citizenship, Cyber Ethics, Online Safety and Cyber Security and we will continue in our endeavour to increase the awareness among users about staying safe online.”
Shivnath Thukral, Director Public Policy, WhatsApp India, “The response to the first phase of our partnership with CyberPeace Foundation has been encouraging with the immense impact it has generated around the important issue of online safety. In the last one year, particularly during the pandemic, people’s time spent online increased tremendously. As a leading messaging service in the consumer-tech space, we think it is now more important than ever to champion digital citizenship and we are sincerely invested in driving awareness about online safety and cyber security. At WhatsApp, the privacy and safety of our users is of utmost importance to us. While WhatsApp has no visibility to the content of messages between a sender and a receiver as it’s a service based on end-to-end encrypted technology, we continue to work closely with industry experts, Government/s academia and with credible associates like CyberPeace Foundation to drive greater awareness and education about keeping users safe, online. We are confident that the second phase of this program will be impactful in raising the awareness about cyber safety among the masses, at scale.”
To mark the culmination of the first phase, CyberPeace Foundation organized a National Consultation on ‘Curtailing Crimes against Children in Digital Spaces’ that explored the roles of various stakeholders and identified strategies to create safe digital spaces for children. Many dignitaries from various organizations including the Ministry, Academia and LEA joined the discussion and suggested wonderful ways that one can ensure to have a safe, peaceful and resilient cyberspace. Gracing the event were Mr. Sanjay Mathur, IPS, Joint Director, NCRB; Mr. Sanjay Kumar Das, Jt. Secretary, Department of Information Technology & Electronics, Government of West Bengal; Mr. Rakesh Maheshwari from Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India; Dr. Rakshit Tandon, Advisor, CyberPeace Foundation; Dr. Angel Ratnabai, NCERT; Mr. Shilohu Rao, NeGD; Ms. Van Chi Pham, Child Protection Specialist, UNICEF; Dr. Nagarathna A, NLIU, Bengaluru.
This was followed by a panel discussion with experts, aimed at identifying the key challenges in online spaces, in the context of child online safety, along with strategies that help build trust and resilience in cyberspace, while promoting digital citizenship and responsible behaviour.
In the first phase, the program created awareness about safe online behaviour among students across 5 Indian states of Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Maharashtra.
Over a period of 6 months, 16201 students, between 13 to 18 years were sensitized on the various aspects of online safety
Key learning from the program include:
Notably, over 70% of the surveyed students mentioned that they hadn’t faced any untoward experience in the digital space while 60% rarely encountered any such instance However, it was also observed that internet usage among adolescents increased by 75% during the lockdown.
Such compelling data and interesting insights underscored the need for further sensitization especially in suburban and interior areas where digital literacy is comparatively lower. Students appreciated learning about various forms of redressal options that can be exercised should they face any problematic experience. It was also suggested that school level reporting mechanisms and building trust among students, teachers and parents, would be helpful in addressing negative experiences more effectively.
Addressing the audience Shri Rakesh Maheshwari, MeitY emphasized on the importance of learning throughout our lives and said, “What you do today is inadequate tomorrow. We must never stop learning and we need to continue to learn every aspect of cybercrime to ensure a cybersafe world.”
Appreciating the efforts of CyberPeace Foundation, Joint Director, National Crime Records Bureau, Shri Sanjay Mathur said, “Cybercriminals are devising new ways to commit offenses and to trick innocent people. Police are constantly improving and matching their pace to tackle cybercrime”.
Shri Shilohu Rao NJP, NeGD said, “We must not limit the concept of digital literacy. Digital literacy initiatives are imperative to safeguard children from cyber threats.”
The panellists emphasized on inculcating Positive hygiene practices in children from the very beginning and also as parents we should also follow them as children learn from what they see. Ms. Van Chi Pham, Child Protection Specialist, UNICEF put emphasis on the redressal mechanisms and said that the Children should be “Agents of Change” and bring awareness about cyber safety.