Agreeing in unison on the initiative's timeliness, the respective governments and its people all see the urgent need to educate youths and individuals on online safety etiquettes.
‘I Am Digital’ is a new social media online safety education campaign for Save the Children and Facebook, uniquely tailored for audiences in the Pacific Islands. The high-profile campaign is designed to help educate and empower Pacific Island teenagers and young people to have safer and more positive online experiences.
At the campaign launch last month, Shairana Ali, CEO of Save the Children Fiji, shared that, "According to a report from National Substance Abuse Advisory Council, 234 cases of cyber bullying were reported in 2017 from primary and secondary schools in Fiji. In the Pacific region, children with access to the internet and social media are often left unsupervised."
“It is our hope that this project will have a positive impact on our children and youth as well as parents and members of the community. This is so that they become responsible citizens and ensure positive development and safeguarding of our children,” she continued.
Facebook and Save the Children’s proactive approach to the many issues surrounding the increase in internet and social media use has not gone unnoticed.
The Fijian Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Mereseini Vuniwaqa, said that, “Facebook is the most used social media platform in Pacific Island countries. It is a fitting initiative by the tech giant, which has partnered with Save the Children, to undertake this new online safety educational campaign, ‘I Am Digital’, targeting children and youths in the Pacific region.”
Social media has created an ease of access for communication; however, this online platform's darker side is very threatening.
Anne Dunn, Fiji’s Online Safety Commissioner, explained, “We receive troubling reports nearly every day from Fijians who feel that they have suffered online harm. This campaign also gives us an opportunity to have open and important dialogue within our own homes.”
In July 2020, Facebook, in partnership with Save the Children Fiji, established a Pacific Advisory
Group to help shape the campaign. The group comprises government and youth representatives from the four countries along with non-profit representatives and academics with expertise in online safety and digital technology trends. Speaking via Zoom at the campaign launch, here are some of the messages shared by our regional counterparts:
Andirauga Nongkas of The National Information and Communications Technology Authority (NICTA) in PNG reiterated the “Need for parents, caregivers and those in position of influence to help children and young people develop digital resilience and intelligence, to be kind and respectful online.”
Fualau Matafeo, CEO of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) in Samoa, stated that “The partnership forged with Facebook on this initiative could not have been timelier given the widespread usage of obliteration of social media by our children and youth. The Samoan government is pleased to support and be part of this crucial initiative.”
A representative from the Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change and Communications (MEIDECC) in Tonga said, “We would like to extend our most sincere gratitude to Facebook and Save the Children for this valuable initiative to deter those who aim to harass, misinform and do harm online.”
‘I Am Digital’ is targeting children first but also should strike a chord with parents and hopefully bring more comfort to both parties to handle and discuss these sensitive issues together.
Deputy Country Director of Save the Children PNG, Rosario Sam, said that “This campaign will take us forward whereby adults and parents can be sure that their children are informed of the risks they may come across, be protected and be open-minded while online.”
Additionally, the general public sees this campaign as a highly welcomed initiative as increasing social issues stem from internet use. The ‘I Am Digital’ Facebook pages have received hundreds of views supporting the campaign’s initiatives and messages. A good number of users have also directly messaged the respective campaign pages for more information.
To learn more from the ‘I Am Digital’ campaign, follow the Facebook pages below:
The ‘I Am Digital’ online safety campaign will run until early March in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Tonga, and feature educational materials in English, Fijian i-Taukei, Fiji Hindi, Tok Pisin, Samoan and Tongan.