The internet is an invaluable tool used throughout the world. With millions of sites dedicated to education, hobbies, news, shopping, entertainment, socializing and more, almost everything today is done using the internet. However, there are also many dangers lurking on the internet, and children and youth are especially vulnerable.
While the increasing use of social media sites in recent years has created many opportunities, at the same time the use of these sites poses potential risks. The phenomenon of violence on social media sites is as real as physical violence and at times worse, mainly due to the lack of awareness. In addition, the internet is prime territory for criminal activity such as pedophilia, false documentation, drug dealing, stalking and more.
A Joint Government Response
The dangerous combination of young internet users and a new culture in which people can assume any identity they wish and reach different and distant audiences with the click of a button, together with the lack of involvement of responsible adults, creates a uniquely difficult problem. Dealing with this issue demands a holistic approach which can only be provided by the cooperation of relevant government bodies.
To this end, the Ministry of Public Security has joined forces with the information and communications department of the Ministry of Education, the Israeli Internet Association and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
, in an effort to create a national alliance and pool resources and knowledge. In 2011 the Ministry of Public Security began promoting safe web surfing and informing the public about the potential dangers inherit in the internet.
The Ministry of Public Security works with representatives (through the Mezila and the "City Without Violence" programs) throughout the country, and runs local programs geared towards parents and youth on safe internet use.
What is Taught
1. Be Aware – It is important to understand the topic of internet safety in order for both parents and children to learn how to properly deal with potential issues.
2. Closing the Digital Gap – In order for parents to better understand their children's world and what they can be exposed to, it is important for parents to be familiar with the basic concepts connected to surfing the web.
3. Parental Authority – Computer use is not an activity that should be exempt from parental guidance. Parents should create rules in order to protect their children and make using the internet safe.
4. Reporting – The more internet users become accustomed to reporting acts of violence and offensive content, the more our quality of life will improve and we will increase our personal safety.
5. Professional Help – There are many outlets that provide professional assistance to varied audiences on safe internet use. It is important to be familiar with them and turn to them for information or help.
6. The Positive Side – In addition to learning about the kinds of sites children should avoid, it is also important to provide parents and children with positive alternatives and educational sites to which they can visit and explore.