The fifth edition of the national contest “Together for a better internet”, organized in the context of Safer Internet Day, was held on 11 February at Mediacor. This year the contest took the form of ideathon and brought together 44 children, accompanied by teachers from 10 lyceums across the country.
The children tried to find solutions to an online safety problem in a creative manner, through speech, theater or presentation. Middle school students worked in teams to prepare their answers to online safety issues for the institutions they study at.
According to Elena Botezatu, executive director of the International Center La Strada, “Through the new format, ideathon, we want to give children the opportunity to make their voice heard, to encourage an open and authentic involvement of children in generating solutions for a safer internet for them.”
Angela Prisacaru, senior consultant, General Education Department of the Ministry of Education and Research, says that for as long as this contest has been organized, the institution she represents, in partnership with La Strada, has come up with new approaches every time, to make it interesting for children. “This year’s contest, which is the fifth, is special in that the students not only demonstrated certain knowledge and skills, but also came up with new solutions. In this way, we, adults, also get ideas from their visions,” she said.
Partnership with a company that provides internet and mobile telephony services strengthens the conviction of contest organizers and authorities that good intentions and social responsibility prevail.
Carolina Bugaian, general director of Moldcell: “Children are the most eager users of the internet. We take care to provide a safe environment for the use of services. Over the years, Moldcell has come up with parental control services, through which parents can track their children’ activities in the internet. For this reason, in 2018, we launched the project ‘Internet without worries’, because we believe that, first of all, it is important to know the rules of online hygiene.”
Students were very inventive when examining problems and proposing solutions:
Axenia Cucu, student, 9th grade: “The problem we had to find a solution to was the high vulnerability of 5th and 6th grade students in our lyceum. A solution we proposed was to create a debate club, which would meet once a month, where students would come and would be offered various quests, trainings. We proposed inviting teachers, our colleagues, some parents and other professionals to these meetings as speakers.”
Creative, innovative, ingenious – this is how we can describe the solutions generated by students in this contest. They all encourage safe online behaviors based on communication, not restriction. Most of them are practical solutions that can be applied in institutions, without additional resources, to solve the problem of online safety in those institutions: creating a group of volunteers (school students) guided by the school psychologist, who will organize online safety activities in school, will develop materials on this topic, will talk with children who are going through unpleasant situations online, peer to peer. Other solutions are aimed at organizing interactive activities in the school on topics related to people with false identities online (theoretical aspects will be combined with practical demonstration). Also, in order to solve the problem of insufficient educational activities in the field of communication and online friendships for students, a team of students proposed organizing online intellectual games, contests, marathons on this topic, live library with professionals who will talk about online risks, how to prevent them, but also how to act in an unpleasant situation online.
Vîlcu Daniela, student, 7th grade: “We decided that a large company would gather in our school to watch movies together, talk to the district policeman or a guest psychologist. We know children who have no opportunity to talk to someone they trust, for example, parents don’t understand them, they have other problems in the family.”
The jury was convinced, and rightly so, that children can generate creative and innovative solutions, and teachers in their respective institutions have the task to see how, subsequently, they will be applied in practice, so as to ensure better internet for every child.
This year, the International Center La Strada Moldova carried out the Safer Internet Day campaign in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Research, Moldcell Foundation, with the support of the Council of Europe office in Chisinau.