Belgrade, 16 May 2019 - The results of the Family Safety Net project were presented at the Children and the internet – Smart from the Start conference, which was opened by Vesna Nedeljkovic, Assistant Minister of Education, Science and Technological Development, Marija Vujanic, Telenor Director of Communications and Sustainable Development, and Severine Leonardi, UNICEF Serbia Deputy Representative.
The results showed that 50% of participants (parents, pre-primary and primary school teachers) significantly advanced their level of digital knowledge and skills.
Parents, pre-primary and primary school teachers through trainings learned how to help children aged 4 to 8 as they take their first steps into the digital world.
The results of the activities indicate that pre-primary school teachers benefitted the most from the implementation of activities. Parents, pre-primary and primary school teachers improved their knowledge the most in the areas of protection against abuse in the digital world and the safe behaviour of children on the Internet.
The work of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development focuses on child safety and the development of pupil competences for active participation in modern society that changes on a daily basis.
"Being aware of the importance of digital literacy, we defined it as one of the key competences in the Law on the Foundations of the Education System. Our obligation, and our mission, is to enable every child and every pupil to reap the most benefits from digital technologies by preventing all risks of unsafe and improper use. This is also one of the challenges we faced during the project implementation," said Vesna Nedeljkovic, Assistant Minister of Education for Preschool and Primary Education.
Telenor, UNICEF’s longstanding partner, takes a strategic approach to safe internet and online technology use by children and young people.
"Today, after the completion of the Family Safety Net project, we have 100,000 parents and two thousand pre-primary and primary school teachers trained to help children to recognize and utilize all the benefits of the Internet, but also to protect them from the risks which they face. Creating digital competencies among our youngest generation is a key investment in the future of Serbia, and for us in Telenor, building a secure internet environment and supporting the digitalization of society are the areas that we are dedicated to in the long term," said Marija Vujanic, Director of Communications and Sustainable Development of Telenor Serbia.
Children are starting to use digital devices and the internet at an increasingly younger age, therefore it is crucial to support children of pre-primary and primary school age to safely and constructively use digital devices and the internet.
"A survey conducted within the Family Safety Net project has shown that most parents and teachers don’t have sufficient knowledge to guide children to use digital technology in a constructive way or to help keep them safe online. This project is a good example of how to overcome this gap. Parents and teachers have improved their knowledge about the safe use of the internet, the risks, as well as about the measures for protecting children from these risks. To ensure that the rights of children in the digital world are protected - we must act together," said Severine Leonardi, UNICEF Serbia Deputy Representative.
The Digital Guide contributes to the protection and realization of the rights of the child to protection from violence and discrimination, protection against harmful and inappropriate content, and protection of privacy.
"The rights of the child guaranteed by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child apply in the digital world, as does the obligation of the state and adults to enable children to exercise and enjoy their rights. Primarily, this refers to the right of the child to protection from violence and discrimination, protection against harmful and inappropriate content, protection of privacy, as well as the right to freedom of expression and the availability of information that is relevant to children's development, the right to quality education, play, and cultural activities. The Children and the Internet – Smart From the Start project has contributed to the protection and realization of the rights of the child by strengthening the digital competences of children, parents, and teachers, as well as by contributing to the development of cooperation and partnerships of all relevant actors, and by emphasizing the importance of this topic to the public,” said Radovan Cicvaric, Director, Uzice Child Rights Centre.
The Family Safety Net project was launched by UNICEF and Telenor, and was implemented by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development and the Uzice Centre for the Rights of the Child.
The aim was to provide information and support to preschool and younger primary school-age children in order for them to use digital devices and the internet in a safe and constructive manner.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org/serbia