The Film and Publications Board (FPB), in partnership with Google, marked the Safer Internet Day event at the Sport and Science Institute yesterday, which saw pupils from across the Cape Town Metro learning more about safe internet usage.

Safer Internet Day, launched in 2004 by the EU Safe Borders, has become a landmark event on the online safety calendar.

It is celebrated in more than 130 countries. The 2018 theme, “Create, connect and share respect: A better internet starts with you”, is a call to action for every pupil, teacher and parent to play their part in creating a better internet for everyone, but especially for young users.

Working within this theme, Google and the FPB said they aimed to educate people about the importance of practising healthy internet habits.

Public policy manager at Google South Africa Fortune Mgwili-Sibanda said: “We know how powerful a learning tool the internet can be when used correctly. But in order to get full value out of it, young people must be able to use the internet safely.”

The acting chief operating officer at FPB, Abongile Mashele, said the event was attended by two schools from Khayelitsha, by the Dominican School of the Deaf, The Settlers High School and the Web Rangers programme.

“What was most important was to educate learners to be responsible online about privacy, reporting social media policies, pornography and online bullying.

“Learners are growing up in an internet world which is central to anything and everything we do.

“We educated them to be mindful about posting pictures of them partying with their friends or sexting on WhatsApp because 10 years from now they may go for an interview. Everything you post on the internet stays online,” said Mashele.

Facebook announced a number of partnerships across Africa with over 20 NGOs and government agencies – with the aim of raising awareness of emerging online issues and helping to explore ways to make the internet safer for all,” it said in a statement.

Public policy manager for Facebook – Africa Akua Gyekye said: “Every day, millions of people across Africa come to Facebook to talk about their special moments and to stay connected with the people they care about.”

“We recognise the important role we play in creating a better and safer online community for all, with this year’s growing partnerships across the continent further demonstrating our ongoing commitment to supporting organisations that raise awareness on these important issues.”

This article was first published by IOL on 7 February 2018