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The Internet is a worthwhile place!

English version available soon.

The Internet is a world of opportunities, a place worth having! This was the major conclusion of the Safer Internet Day Seminar that took place on 4th February at Fórum Picoas, an event organised by the Safe Internet Centre Consortium in collaboration with the PT Foundation.

The initiative involved academics, psychologists, criminal investigation forces, youth associations, media, among other specialists, in the discussion about the challenges that Internet use poses to people's behavior and, in particular, to young people.

The seminar opened with a welcome from Paulo Neves, CEO of Portugal Telecom. The host highlighted the importance of stimulating actions that promote the responsible use of the Internet, as well as the security and protection of the data that is made available online. Next, José Vítor Pedroso, Director-General of Education, presented the Safe Internet Consortium and its mission to make society aware of the risks of Internet use. He highlighted the project's areas of intervention as the production of resources, training, awareness-raising, and the promotion of activities. "This is a work that evolves and adapts to technology," said the head of Education.


To talk about Digital Identity, Luís Antunes, Professor at the Faculty of Science of the University of Porto, presented several scenarios representing the vulnerability to which our personal data is subject and the digital trail generated by sharing information online. He alerted to the "importance of controlling our exposure in the digital society, because all objects around us are continuously sharing information about us, which we must control, anonymize and even shuffle". The INESCTEC researcher presented some solutions to combat fraud in authentication systems and that are the focus of his research area, such as the OFELIA [Open Federated Environments Leveraging Identity and Authorization] program, funded by FCT.

The debate on Privacy and Personal Data Protection with Jorge Duque, PJ Researcher, Magda Cocco, VdA Lawyer and Luís Antunes, moderated by Sapo Tek journalist Fátima Caçador, was launched. Questioned about the challenges that cyberspace raises to legislative policies, participants pointed out the lack of consensus, at a global level, for data privacy regulation. 

"Europe has an approach [in this matter] that is not culturally accepted in all countries," said Magda Cocco, and "European law allows data to be transferred to other countries as long as the Data Protection Commission authorizes it. Despite the constraints, the lawyer believes that Portugal and Europe have adequate legal instruments to protect the privacy of citizens' and companies' data. Jorge Duque, in turn, believes that the authorities should have more tools and that they need more speed in accessing information. The inspector also shared information on how the authorities act in cases of identification of suspected pedophiles through the Internet.

Minds and Feelings of the Digital Age was the theme of the study on online behaviors in young Portuguese, presented by Ivone Patrão, professor and researcher at the University Institute of Psychological, Social and Life Sciences. "Being online is the main activity of many young people", the excessive use of technologies and access to media and the Internet increasingly earlier and without parental supervision are at the root of changes in behavior and mood of many young people. Not only that, obesity or extreme thinness are also some of the consequences of this excessive exposure to the Internet. Boys are more "dependent" on online games, girls prefer social networks. These young people spend an average of 6 hours a day online.

This is the portrait of the Digital Generation at risk and the theme that served as "fuel" to the next debate moderated by Rute Sousa Vasco, from SAPO: "Impacts of the digital generation: new profiles, new challenges!". Participating in the discussion were Susana Carvalhosa, from ISCTE, Isabel Baptista, from the National Center for Cybersecurity and Paulo de Jesus, from the Division for Intervention in Addictive Behaviors and Dependencies (ARS Alentejo).

Taking a preventive approach, Susana Carvalhosa believes that education to "know how to respect the other" is fundamental to avoid abusive and hostile behavior among young people. The researcher explained the scope of the project she is developing at the Center for Social Research and Intervention (IUL) - - aimed at parents and all people with responsibilities in the education and training of children and young people. The site provides informative material on the Internet, social networks, and technologies.

Isabel Baptista warns that "no one is [totally] safe online" and, therefore, digital citizenship should be promoted in schools and among families. In terms of awareness, the head of the awareness area considers that seniors are the group most exposed to the risks of the Internet and lack critical information.

"Twenty years ago we were talking about drug addictions. The Institute of Drugs and Drug Addiction was created to respond to the problems of that time. Today we talk about addictions and the services are reorganizing themselves to face the new challenges", said Paulo de Jesus in his speech. Today, as 20 years ago, it is believed that the pleasure factor is at the base of addiction and technologies provide satisfaction. The problem arises from the moment that the search for pleasure becomes a constant in the lives of young people. For the technician and educator, "technologies cannot be demonized" and the "school is overloaded with recommendations," it is necessary to act in the family space, in the virtual space, and in all the spaces where young people find themselves.


The morning ended with recommendations from the representatives of the Safe Internet Consortium:

"Parents are less aware of the dangers of online exposure," Vânia Neto, Microsoft.

"Society is not yet prepared to meet these challenges!"Jorge Queirós, IPDJ.

"Theinternet is the place where the Portuguese of the future spend a lot of time and will spend even more. (...) The internet is a worthwhile place. We need to promote safety and positive use of the internet.", João Carlos Sousa, DGE.

"Strengthening national cooperation towards better promotion of Digital Inclusion and Literacy", Ana Cristina Neves, FCT.