While European children and teenagers today are sophisticated internet users, there are new risks and worrying gaps for young users in their increasingly socially networked world.
Increased access to and reliance on online technologies have created a growing need for online safety awareness and overall internet education amongst children, teenagers, parents & teachers. There is still much to be done to raise awareness of how to use the internet responsibly and use technologies available to allow children to surf the internet more safely and securely.
We share the belief that it is everyone's responsibility - from teachers and parents, to governments and industry - to play a role in equipping children with the know-how and the tools to protect themselves online and to make their internet experience a safe and enjoyable one.
Responding to a call to arms for EU Safer Internet Day, we have combined efforts across several Microsoft business groups and departments to show Microsoft's longstanding commitment to keeping children safe online. We have taken a holistic approach to this effort through new technologies, guidance and education for families and children as well as partnerships with key stakeholders such as NGOs, industry and law enforcement to combat online crime and protect young users.
Our volunteering activities mark our strong commitment to child online safety. Online safety is not only core to our business, but it is also an issue that our employees, many parents themselves, take very seriously. As a technology company, we are aware that the tools we provide have to be used responsibly. Safety education is one of the most effective means of helping to protect children online.
Microsoft also conducts a survey on MSN on online safety and releases the results along with tips for children and parents on Safer Internet Day. Many Microsoft subsidiaries have also engaged Insafe, the European network for e-safety, through local awareness nodes to dialogue on online safety and build awareness on safer Internet practices.
Getting everyone to embrace responsible behavior while not turning away from technology is a challenge. Fresh ideas about education and how to reach kids and parents is needed to tackle the problem.
Microsoft embraces an open and inclusive multi-stakeholder approach to child online safety that is the responsibility of many, and invites other corporations and company employees working in the ICT and technology sector to join forces on Safer Internet Day for a Europe wide training initiative in all countries that would have even greater impact in alerting children to the dangers online and ensuring a safe and responsible use of the internet.
In February 2009, 800 employees in 23 Microsoft subsidiaries across Europe organized trainings for school children, teachers and parents associations on online safety on or around Safer Internet Day. Through local partnership with NGOs, schools, customers, partners, and law enforcement agencies, Microsoft employee volunteers reached more than 50,000 people on online safety. In 2010, for the second year in a row, 650 Microsoft employees in 24 subsidiaries trained a further 50,000 children, parents and teachers.
Microsoft employees are entitled to 3 days per year to volunteer time working on a good/charitable cause. This employee benefit allowed employees to volunteer en masse to train children on internet safety when they were invited to participate. It is a topic that has struck a deep chord as both employees and parents and they are proud to be able to deliver this message as a technology company.