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Great opportunities launched on Safer Internet Day

Now here’s an interesting question, one that young digital media users don’t hear a lot: “What does the good side of the Internet look like?” They’re invited to submit a creative answer to that question in video format, either as individuals (aged 13+) or as students on behalf of a particular school, for the 2013 “What’s Your Story” contest launched today, Safer Internet Day, Feb. 5 (for more on SID USA, please click to SaferInternetDay.us). Here’s some accompanying info to get creative juices flowing on the video front:

Questions for change agents

“Share stories of the good that you do online. Tell us about the good you see online. Show others the good that is online. Dream about the good that can be done online – whether it’s connecting in kind ways, staying safe, keeping good reputations, doing cool things, being smart about cellphone cameras, or making a difference, for just one person or many…. Be funny, Be dramatic, Be creative. Use live action, stop action, animation, with music or none. Whatever you do, be real.”

The deadline is April 16, and the winners will be announced in mid-May. There will be two grand prizes of $10,000, one for an individual and one for a school, and runner-up prizes of $1,000 each for 2nd and 3rd place in both categories. Full disclosure, I’m one of the judges for this contest, but that’s not why I love it: I like my ConnectSafely co-director Larry Magid, believe that there’s safety as well as literacy to be gained in supporting youth agency, participation, and creativity in digital media.

A pledge we can take

A nice awareness-raising initiative for SID is A Platform for Good’s “Pledge for Good” in our networked world. It’s a simple pledge – “I will use my power for good” – that anyone can make either on their Web site or Facebook page. It’s a lovely initiative because, as Nancy Gifford at PfG put it, they “aren’t looking to change behavior” or preach Internet safety. “People are already doing great things with technology – we are simply trying to give greater visibility to these positive acts. It is one small way to close the gap between the perception of how tech is used and the reality of how people are actually using … to amplify the good that’s already happening online and … encourage even more.” Enough said. +1 from me!

Celebrating Africa’s connectivity

And if anyone wants to get a picture of the very mobile Internet use and safety in Africa, either from 30,000 feet (about 55 countries on the continent) or on the ground in Senegal – or just “Celebrate Digital Africa!,” launched today – check out the Family Online Safety Institute’s GRID, with info about 55 countries. Just the at-a-glance data on mobile phones and people in Nigeria (170m people to 101.2m phones), Egypt (78.3m people to 71.4m phones), Kenya (42m people to 28m phones), and South Africa (50.5m people to 59.4m phones), is amazing to see, and speaks reams about the explosion of connectivity on that continent. GRID tells us Africa has 7% of the world’s Internet users and 15.6% of its population, but – as in other parts of the world – mobile is the locus of Internet growth there. For example, 57.9% of Nigeria’s Web traffic is mobile, compared to an average of 10% of the world’s Web traffic.

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