Hrvatski Telekom, a leader in digitalisation and digital transformation in Croatia, has presented today a major social responsibility initiative “Share the Positive, Block the Negative”, which has brought together the academic community, the non-governmental sector, and the state institutions to increase the level of safety of children on the Internet. The main partners are the Brave Phone association and the Association for Communication and Media Culture (DKMK), whose representatives coordinate EU Kids Online, the largest international research project into children’s media habits.
The initiative is to cover a number of awareness-raising activities to better protect children on the Internet, the key output being the first national comparative research into the level of safety of children on the Internet, on the basis of which Croatia will be able for the first time to develop a solid expert base for the national regulation of this very important topic.
The current data indicate that young people in Croatia are exceptionally active online, whilst the level of their knowledge of risks and the ways of protection against threats is very low. Namely, 96% of young people has a Facebook profile and 50% of pupils use social networks during classes. A previous research conducted by Brave Phone with the Child and Youth Protection Centre of Zagreb has indicated the problem of risky behaviour on the Internet, e.g. almost a half of young people between the age of 11 and 18 regularly share private photos on Facebook, more than a third accept friend requests from unknown persons, and almost a fifth would go alone to a real-life date with an unknow person met on Facebook. Almost a fifth of young people receive offensive messages, whilst children who spend three or more hours a day on Facebook do worse in school, have a distorted image of themselves, and display a larger number of emotional and behavioural difficulties.
As the only private partner of the “Share the Positive, Block the Negative” initiative, Hrvatski Telekom, in addition to providing support to the national research, has presented the Croatian version of the European TeachToday portal. The portal will encompass useful contents and tips on safety on the Internet intended for children and parents, with the initiative partners continuously adding to its contents. Moreover, HT will introduce specific products and services to help parents protect their children. The first among such products are the MYKI smartwatch for children and the unique parental control service for smartphones presented exclusively by Richard Brešković, Director of the Residential Marketing Sector from Hrvatski Telekom.
“Hrvatski Telekom is the technology leader brining fast Internet and the latest digital technologies to households throughout Croatia, which also implies a certain responsibility for safety on the Internet, particularly with regard to children. We are proud to be recognised as a partner which is able to contribute to the efforts of this initiative providing for a safer and more carefree everyday life of children and all parents”, said Nataša Rapaić, Member of the Management Board of HT and COO Residential.
“Brave Phone has registered an increase in the number of enquiries made by children, young people, and parents concerning safety on the Internet, but they frequently contact us when the situation is already very serious. Every day, our volunteers provide advisory support to children who have experienced a certain form of violence on the Internet and actively inform and educate parents on how to help their children to protect themselves when using the Internet and social networks. So far, we have developed a variety of educational and preventive materials for children, young people, and experts, but our reach is limited. We believe that this joint initiative with partners and the support provided by Hrvatski Telekom will make a significant positive step forward, which we would not have been able to do alone”, said Anamarija Vuić, Advisory Lines Coordinator of Brave Phone.
“The existing researches into the safety of children on the Internet have provided only a partial insight into this problem in Croatia. Owing to this initiative, we will have the first national research that is fully aligned with the criteria of the international EU Kids Online project. This will be the first such base for adopting national strategic documents and educational materials and for harmonising them with the recommendations of the European Commission and the guidelines of the European Parliament. Our initiative is supported by the Agency for Electronic Media, whilst the Croatian Regulatory Authority for Network Industries has announced its support”, said Igor Kanižaj, Vice-President of DKMK and Croatian Team Coordinator of EU Kids Online, who also added that intense negotiations were underway on the participation of other institutions in the initiative.
“Nowadays, young people have a powerful technology in their hands, but without high-quality instructions on how to use it properly. Communication over the Internet and social networks is direct and does not include any agency by parents or other close family members, but this does not mean that young people should be left without any supervision. If we leave children in the library, it does not mean that they will learn what is written in the books on the shelves. In order for them to acquire knowledge, they need a mentor. The success of the srednja.hr portal implies that young people are not only interested in “yellow” contents, but they also want high-quality information form reliable sources on subjects in which they are naturally interested in their age. I am exceptionally proud that the sredna.hr portal participates in this initiative, because it will compel us to be even better”, said Marko Matijević, Ambassador of the initiative and the Editor-in-Chief of the srednja.hr porta