NATIONAL NEWS - Web Rangers' programme is designed to allow young people to gain critical skills and knowledge around online safety.
Youngsters then use the programme to create innovative campaigns, which promote safe internet usage and champion their rights in the digital world.
The international digital and media literacy programme is also designed to empower young people with critical skills on how to use the internet and social media responsibly and confidently.
In South Africa, the initiative is implemented by Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) together with partners, Film and Publications Board (FPB), Facebook, Google, the Department of Telecommunication and Postal Services (DTPS) as well as the Media, Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA), MTN and Diana Schwarz Attorneys.
Web Rangers is about creating young digitally savvy citizens who know how to use the internet responsibly and encourage their peers to do the same. The programme is currently running in 24 schools in 4 provinces across South Africa.
The programme was launched in South Africa in 2016, to improve young people’s digital literacy skills and empower them to take ownership of their own digital footprints. To date, the programme has reached over 600 learners who have gone through the full programme and over 2000 indirect beneficiaries who have benefited through in-school online safety advocacy and campaigns.
In 2018, the Web Rangers programme held its first Africa Summit in Nairobi, Kenya. The event was attended by Web Rangers, policymakers and partners from South Africa, Kenya, and Nigeria.
Earlier this year, Google joined the Films and Publications Board, senior government representatives, learners, teachers and parents on Safer Internet Day at the event to spread awareness on online safety and inaugurate the 2019 edition of the Web Rangers online safety programme.
Google has also partnered with the Western Cape Department of Education to roll out an online safety curriculum that will be implemented in October 2019. The curriculum will teach children about online safety.
Google takes online safety seriously and has dedicated online resources that seek to help keep children safe online and inform parents on available safety tools.
Available tools to help children stay safe are:
- YouTube Kids – allows parents and kids to enjoy YouTube in a safe and enjoyable way through built-in timers for parents, disabling public comments, easy flagging, and an option for parents to block videos or channels that they would prefer their children not to watch.
- Family Link – provides the ability for parents to create and consent to Google accounts for their children under 13 years old and provides them with supervision and management tools e.g. information about what apps the child is spending time using, set a bedtime or daily limits for a mobile device, and set download and purchase approvals for apps.
- Google Safe Search – can be turned on with three clicks from the Google homepage. While no filter is 100% accurate, SafeSearch helps people avoid content they may prefer not to see or would rather members of their family did not see.