Children need to be aware of the Internet risks that can expose them to bad actors and abuse on the web, a top Google executive said at an event here on Tuesday to commemorate Safer Internet Day 2018. “We want to bring Internet for everyone. Keeping the web safe for everyone is a shared responsibility,” Sunita Mohanty, Director, Trust and Safety at Google India, told reporters. “While the Internet has made life easier by helping us share and receive day-to-day information, we also need to be aware of the consequences, negative experiences that make us vulnerable to threats.
“Women, children and adults are vulnerable to bad actors on Internet, hence there is an urgent need to sensitise them about the possible threats,” Mohanty added. India has the second largest Internet user base in the world. In 2017, India crossed over 400 million Internet users and this number is expected to reach 650 million in the next two years. With improved connectivity and affordable smartphones and data, Indians are taking to the web in a big way, spending over 200 minutes daily on their screens. “Internet is like nuclear energy that can be used and misused. It has phenomenal abilities in helping us, but also has a potential to damage the social as well as the individual structures,” Anil Swarup, Secretary – Department of School Education and Literacy, told reporters.
While much is being done for securing the Internet, “there is an urgent need to scale the safety efforts”, Swarup said, adding that sensitising the teachers and spreading the safety measures through them to the students across the country can help. On the occasion of Safer Internet Day 2018, Google India announced its collaboration with NCERT to integrate a course on “Digital Citizenship and Safety” in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) curriculum in schools. “Digital Citizenship and Safety” essentially focuses on being a responsible user on the Internet, who is not only aware of how to stay safe online but also practises judgment and helps others to stay safe and be respectful of others online.
“Students from class I to class XII across 1.4 million schools in India would now learn how to become good and responsible digital citizens, through structured classroom modules on the social, ethical and legal aspects of Internet safety. “Through our course integration with NCERT, we aim to teach children the essentials of staying safe while exploring the online world,” Mohanty said. In addition, Google has also created a curriculum for teachers so that they can help students learn all about digital citizenship in their classrooms. The programme includes specific resources for kids and educators, enabling them with the tools they need to learn and educate themselves on Internet safety.
The syllabus for online safety presented in the curriculum will be systematically graded and has been divided into four overarching themes — Being Smart; Being Safe; Being a Digital Citizen and Being Future Ready. The curriculum is structured to match the intellectual and curiosity needs of different age groups of the children. “As they advance through their classes, they will be taught more advanced topics such as privacy, device management, intellectual property and reputation management. “Integrating technology with pedagogy is our concern. But pedagogy should take dominance and not technology, as it would help children to construct their own knowledge base and help them bring about a change in classroom,” said Hrushikesh Senapaty, Director at NCERT.