UNICEF launches campaign on digital literacy of teenagers and online safety
"Literacy does not end with grammar. Modern education is online."
Sofia, 24.05.2021 UNICEF Bulgaria launches a campaign aiming at helping teenagers develop digital literacy and online safety skills. The beginning of the campaign ‘A New Generation of Critical Minds" coincides with the Day of the Holy Brothers Cyril and Methodius, the Bulgarian alphabet, education and culture and of Slavic literature – May 24th.
Modern education is not only writing, grammar and literature, it is unimaginable without online literacy. The COVID-19 pandemic forced us to spend more and more time online. For adolescents, the change was more natural as they were born in the digital age. Virtual space provides them with exceptional opportunities, but it also hides dangers for which they are often unprepared.
Studies outline serious risks in the digital environment and show that it is essential that teenagers develop critical thinking and specific skills to protect themselves from cyber attacks, bullying, and to identify fake news. Adolescents often face these problems, identify them and are willing to offer solutions to address them. More than 1 in 7 children under the age of 18 in Bulgaria report being subjected to violence online, especially on social media sites, according to a national survey commissioned by UNICEF and conducted by the international research company Coram International, with the support of ESTAT.
5 out of 10 young people (47% of all) say the things they read and see on the Internet (hate speech, misinformation, bullying, cyber-attacks) bother and upset them and 1 in 10 say someone has been abusive to them online in the past year, according to a Survey on the Subjective Perception and Responses of Teens in a State of Emergency conducted by UNICEF Bulgaria. 77% of children and young people use social media every day. Only 57% of Bulgarian teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 rate their digital skills as basic or higher, significantly below the EU average of 82%, according to a Eurostat survey from 2019. Bulgaria is second last, only before Romania.
Digital literacy is the set of knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that enable children to confidently and autonomously play, learn, socialize, and participate in civic action in digital environment being both safe and empowered in a way appropriate to their age, culture and environment.
‘The UNICEF's campaign aims to help adolescents surf the internet safely, protecting themselves from cyberattacks, bullying, and identifying fake news while creating their own content without jeopardizing their security. In addition, it will encourage children and young people to develop their critical thinking, as well as to be able to use and understand technology, search for and manage information, gain confidence and ability to express their opinions’, says Sanja Saranovic, Deputy Representative of UNICEF in Bulgaria.
UNICEF’s campaign is about to present possible solutions to address these challenges. The creation of an innovative platform for digital literacy and online safety is planned, based on the ideas of young people and with their participation.