Microsoft and Proximus in partnership with Child Focus to raise awareness about safer Internet use in different Belgian schools

In partnership with Child Focus, volunteers from Microsoft and Proximus will visit classrooms in different Belgian schools on 10 February to raise awareness among more than 6000 pupils in total about safer Internet use.

BRUSSELS, 9-2-2015 — /EuropaWire/ — On Tuesday 10 February, it’s “Safer Internet Day“, the international day for raising awareness about safe Internet. This year too, Microsoft and Proximus are teaming up in Belgium and collaborating with Child Focus to teach primary school children how to use the Internet more safely.

The children will receive tips on how to surf the Internet and use social media safely. Last year, as many as 12,000 children were reached thanks to the volunteers from Microsoft and Proximus. On Tuesday, 175 volunteers will be visiting 363 classes in 151 schools throughout Belgium. Among the volunteers will be Dominique Leroy, CEO of Proximus, and Michael Beal, General Manager of Microsoft BeLux, along with all members of both these companies’ management committees.

On average, children first go on the Internet from the age of eight

Like every year, there is a great deal of enthusiasm for this initiative from teachers. Indeed, showing children the ropes on the Internet is a necessity: on average, children in Belgium first become acquainted with the Internet when they are eight years old and are given their first smartphone when they are twelve. Their knowledge of what happens with the data they share on social media is sometimes minimal. Yet a European study of Net Children Go Mobile shows that more than half of nine- to eleven-year-olds have a profile on a social network. Unfortunately, it also appears that 20% of Belgian youngsters do not screen off their profile from the outside world. The same amount of youngsters accept strangers if the latter are on the buddy list of one of their acquaintances. So there is still a lot of work to do in this regard.

“Today, it’s self-evident that a school teaches children how to deal with dangerous road traffic situations,” says Anne de Meulemeester, a teacher in the De Bolster primary school in Neerijse. “But they need to be taught about the virtual world too. Our children must be given guidance in learning how to surf, chat and establish contacts with others safely.  Often, they still need to learn to distinguish between correct, false and misleading information. They can for example also use tips on how to choose a good e-mail address and secure password. All essential skills to be able to surf the Net safely.  That’s why it’s great that volunteers from Microsoft and Proximus come by to explain this in an interactive way to our fifth- and sixth-year pupils!”

Critical Internet users

Studies show that the first Internet experiences are positive. Even so, training remains a priority. The aim of “Safer Internet Day” is to teach children to adopt a critical attitude and develop the right reflexes so they are more aware of the consequences of surfing the Internet. To help participating teachers to broach this subject in class, Child Focus provides an information kit with educational material to guide pupils in becoming responsible and socially adept Internet users.

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