Report Button

Awareness

News

Crossing the digital divide in Cyprus: Adults and Youth prepare for 2012

Crossing the digital divide in Cyprus: Adults and Youth prepare for 2012

By Maia Woodward, World Vision MEER Communications

The World Vision Armenia delegation welcomes children and teachers from the Narek Armenian School in Cyprus to the Safer Internet conference

REGIONAL - Local Students, NGO workers, government representatives and the Cyprus police force joined together recently at the World Vision and Cyberethics conference in Cyprus to share learning and plan how to bridge the generation gap in today's digital world in preparation for February 2012 Safer Internet day.

'Discovering the digital world together'–next year's Safer Internet Day theme– saw participants addressing how to educate adults in using technology as a means to communicate and socialise for their own benefit, as well as to keep in touch and up-to-date with their children. Presentations also strongly underlined the importance of young people's awareness of the dangers, as well as the benefits of virtual worlds and digital communication.

"Everyone is taking this seriously and we all need to play our part in keeping each other safe online as well as enjoying the benefits of the Internet", shared 16-year-old Costas, a local Cypriot student.

Mandy Yamanis of World Vision International's Keeping Children Safe Online project, hosted a panel discussion with representatives from World Vision offices in Armenia, Georgia, Lebanon and Jerusalem-West Bank-Gaza. Each of the offices has undertaken significant project activities with children, youth, parents and teachers to make them aware of keeping safe online, as well as prepare peer to peer projects in the coming year, which will help parents engage in learning about the Internet and teach youth about staying safe online.

Everyone is taking this seriously and we all need to play our part in keeping each other safe online as well as enjoying the benefits of the Internet

"In all our 'Keeping Children Safe Online Projects', we have had terrific responses from parents and communities and feel that by working with adults as well as youth in early 2012, the children will really have the opportunity to share their already considerable knowledge about the Internet and computers and essentially will be the teachers in this case, rather than the students", explained Yamanis.

Mrs. Anastasia Economou from the Cyprus Ministry of Education and Culture shared results from a project already carried out locally in Cyprus where parents were engaged in a virtual game with their children. This clearly showed the benefits to the relationship between parents and children by coming together into the familiar digital world for young people, where the children had the opportunity to share their knowledge and expertise with their parents, and the parents as students. It also gave the children an opportunity to be exposed to the risks of having on-line profiles and a 'virtual life' with an adult to help them mitigate the situation.

He also challenged young people today to take up the mantle of being the teachers and not just the students in a changing world of technology

"I have learned so much here today and really feel it has been good to have a mixture of young people and adults attending this conference together. I have learned also that there is a helpline run by Cyberethics that I can call if I have concerns about me or my friends using the Internet, and also, I have learned that there is a Cyber Crime unit here in Cyprus with our local police", added 16-year-old Costas.

"You are the digital natives who need to bring us (adults) digital immigrants into your world so we can learn together to make the most of technology safely," said Yiannis Laouris, Cyprus Safer Internet Center-Cyberethics Manager, to a group of high school students from across the island.

Mr. Laouris spoke passionately of how grandparents and parents could benefit from using technology, from arranging delivery of online shopping, to parents using Skype to stay in touch with their children as they invariably go on to study or work overseas. He also challenged young people today to take up the mantle of being the teachers and not just the students in a changing world of technology.