On April 10th FOSI convened a roundtable discussion hosted and sponsored by Google in Mexico City. The event entitled ‘Local, Regional, and Global Trends in Online Safety’ bought together non-profit organizations, government, industry and academics to discuss the latest initiatives, opportunities and challenges in keeping children safe on the Internet as more people go online in Mexico and Latin America.
In his opening remarks Stephen Balkam, CEO of FOSI, highlighted the history of FOSI’s engagement in Mexico, the launch of the Mexican Government’s Digital Strategy and specific cultural challenges presented in the region, as well as within Hispanic communities in the US, when it comes to online safety.
The first panel of the day focused on local issues. In a country that is embracing the Internet, concerns remain especially around predators and exposure to inappropriate content. However, law enforcement officials and industry are working hard to reassure parents and to put the control back in their hands by informing them about the parental controls that are available. Speakers explained that while many parents lack the digital skills to keep up with their children, they can be empowered to enforce household rules separate, or in addition, to technological tools. Worldwide challenges of how to reach parents were also discussed.
In a keynote address, Alejandra Lagunes spoke about the plans for a National Digital Strategy. The Government’s priorities include expanding Internet usage, closing the digital gap, supporting parents in protecting their children online, providing hardware to students and improving digital literacy among all sectors of society. The Government is pursuing a collaborative approach, involving all stakeholders in making the Internet safer and promoting its use. You can read the full remarks by Alejandra Lagunes here.
The second panel examined regional trends, challenges and opportunities presented by the Internet. In 2013, Latin America recorded more than 159 million Internet users and that number is increasing rapidly. With this many new adopters, issues such as online fraud, grooming, cyberbullying and sex trafficking create fear among users. Although there are dangers, panelists encouraged education efforts to focus on the opportunities rather than the risks. Speakers discussed existing research in the area, as well as the need for more. They talked about the ways in which human rights can be promoted and citizenship on and offline can be fostered. The role of government and industry in helping close the digital divide was examined in detail as well as the best ways to educate children on Internet safety.
Finally, the global panel closed out the day. The importance of cultural context and localization of materials and approaches from multinational companies was highlighted as a priority. While industry from the US was in Mexico to learn more and share best practices from other regions, they also promoted the strengthening of civil society in order to ensure that children and parents have confidence in their online exploration.
FOSI hopes to continue engagement in the region, as well as with Hispanic communities in the US. Useful resources have been translated into Spanish here, as well as interesting blogs in Spanish on FOSI's Good Digital Parenting.
For more information on the event please contact email@example.com