What Is It and How It Started

A little over 30 years ago, British scientist Tim Berners Lee introduced us to the World Wide Web. In only a few short decades, nearly every aspect of our lives has been impacted. Most notably, our convenient access to educational tools and repositories of human wisdom continues to grow and change profoundly. 

Though we have certainly become better connected, we’re also left to grapple with some of the negative effects of such a rapid evolution. From cyberbullying, inappropriate content, abuse of social networks, or even our effective management of time spent online, the internet can be an unsafe place for students who aren't equipped with the best and most meaningful ways to navigate this digital universe. 

Safer Internet Day recognizes the need for a better internet, while promoting our responsible, respectful, critical, and creative use of technology. The 2020 theme is about working “together for a better internet.” This awareness campaign began in Europe in 2004 and has since grown to over 100 countries, the world over. ConnectSafely is the U.S. host of Safer Internet Day, and this event is being recognized and celebrated in classrooms all over the United States. Student events will play a key role in American cities like Austin, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles. 

How You Can Get Involved

Safer Internet Day is about celebrating the positive power of the internet, while underscoring the importance of meaningful and open dialogue with all of the stakeholders of the internet about our best path forward. So if you’re a student, parent, educator, government official, industry representative, or content creator—it’s time to use your voice and get involved! 

A few of the major supporters of Safer Internet Day U.S. include Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and The Internet & Television Association. The National PTA is also a proud supporter, with PTA events happening all over the United States. Click here to see where your local PTA is participating and how you can get involved. Whether it’s including this day in your lesson plans, watching the livestream, or joining the conversation on social media, here is a short list of specific ways you and your organization can participate. For a complete list of live events, click here

 As parents and teachers, we can’t always provide oversight. However, by fostering consistent communication, we can educate, inform, set boundaries, and equip our children and students with the tools they need to navigate the uncertainty of the internet and help them stay safe. Above all, celebrating an event like Safer Internet Day conveys the message to our children that, when in doubt, they can always open up and share so they don’t ever have to feel like they’re alone. 

For Tim Berners Lee, the internet remains a living and breathing reflection of our humanity. As we continue to be more dependent on it for improving every aspect of our lives, it’s incumbent on us all to help shape this powerful tool into a digital environment we can be proud of and where we can all feel safe. Every day.