Google has announced a fund of $1 million for Google.org to support new and innovative ideas in the sphere of privacy, trust and safety in order to make online access across sub-Saharan Africa safer for families, and especially children. The ‘Be Internet Awesome programme’ is being launched in South Africa, Nigeria and the Netherlands on Tuesday, 11 February 2020, in recognition of Safer Internet Day.
Be Internet Awesome exists to help minors use and explore the Internet with safety and confidence. The Google.org grant will also provide funding for more initiatives and programmes aimed at educating children and families on how to use the Internet safely and with growing confidence.
“Google is committed to a safe Internet for children. We are also passionate about the empowerment of organisations who share this commitment. The fund will be administered by a third-party partner on behalf of Google.org, and we will be sharing details on application criteria and deadlines soon,” says Google Africa’s head of public policy and government relations, Fortune Mgwili-Sibanda.
“We are excited to strengthen the work we have been doing with parents and children in the field of online safety, particularly in South Africa”, he continues.
He further states that services like Family Link, which lets parents “set digital ground rules to help guide [their children] as they learn, play, and explore online”, and Password Checkup which lets users set up security measures to help protect their password, are all to empower users to take control of their online safety.
Be Internet Awesome teaches children and people who are not necessarily Internet literate how to recognize potential online scams, how to identify and refrain from cyberbullying and what to do when you come across questionable content on the internet. A timely initiative.
“Children are being exposed to the Internet at their most vulnerable age so it’s important for us, at Google, to ensure that they do so as safely as possible. At the same time, teachers and parents can use these resources in order to support and guide children as they navigate the Web,” continues Mgwili-Sibanda.
In terms of implementing the programme in South Africa, Google has worked with the South African Film and Publications Board (FPB). Abongile Mashele, the acting CEO of FPB, says that “the organisation needs to play a leading role in creating awareness around the dangers of the internet, as much as it is incumbent on us to also encourage the use of the digital space as an empowering tool”.