With just a swipe or a tap of a finger on an electronic device, children can open so many doors into the digital world. However, with plenty of possibilities, there are also risks. Young people may be targeted by scams, experience bullying, or be exposed to sexual, racist, or other inappropriate content. They may encounter these risks through their searches, via social media, video, gaming or chat and communication platforms.
In August 2023, ChildFund Timor-Leste partnered with local youth organisation, Alumni Parlamentu Foinsae (APFTL), to implement Swipe Safe, a program that helps young people stay safe online.
“I want to use social media carefully and correctly.”
Laura is 17 and from the Lautem municipality, she is one of thousands of young people in Timor-Leste learning how to swipe safe. Laura is looking forward to learning how to stay safe on social media.
“I’m very excited to take part in the online safety training because it will help us to use technology wisely and teach us how to protect ourselves from online danger,” she said. “I want to use social media carefully and correctly.”
Grilo, a school principal and a representative of the Ministry of Education in Lautem, said it was important for young people to access digital technologies safely to learn, develop, and connect. “I encourage all students and young people to participate in the online safety training and use what they learn in their daily lives,” he said.
ChildFund Timor-Leste and APFTL are aiming to reach 5,000 young people and 1,000 parents in Lautem and Dili municipalities through the project. “ChildFund Timor-Leste is very proud to be partnered with APFTL,” said Erine Dijkstra, ChildFund Timor-Leste’s Country Director. “We have worked with 26 facilitators already to provide the online safety training.”
ChildFund is also working with the Timor-Leste Government’s Ministry of Education, Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture, and the Ministry of Solidarity and Social Inclusion, to educate parents, guardians and schools to across the country about online safety.
“Together, we can help everyone to become good online citizens and to protect children online,” Erine said.