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Promoting Safe Internet Use for Children in the Lithuanian Libraries

Published on: 13.05.13
Source: RIAP Association

Die Erwachsenen das Internet an Kinder zu vermitteln

In today’s world, the Internet offers an ever-growing universe of opportunities to people. But as it develops, so do risks and threats of all sorts for users, such as inappropriate and illegal content, cyber-bullying or online fraud. These or similar risks have especially become relevant for children and young people in recent years.

Every adult, including parents, teachers or those who interact with children are responsible for helping them to learn and practice Internet safety. As adults themselves learn more about prudent online behaviour, they should share and discuss issues related with it with young people.

There are more than 1,300 public libraries in Lithuania, regularly visited by over 30% of the adult population and about 75% of school age children1. Today, following the last decade’s successful modernisation, libraries have emerged into a unique network. The role of Lithuanian libraries has expanded considerably from merely a reading place into a venue combining innovation, quality services and new ways of attracting visitors.

With the free Internet being the most popular service and children most frequent visitors, the libraries are very keen to promote safe Internet behaviour for children. This article reviews different forms and ways of safe Internet behaviour used in two public libraries of Plunge and Pasvalys municipalities. Both libraries actively cooperate with the Lithuanian Rural Internet Access Points Association and are involved in its projects.

Plunge municipality library in western Lithuania operates 18 rural branches and attracts more than 9,000 regular visitors a year. Violeta Skieriene, its director, says, all known ways to protect children from inappropriate, illegal content or online frauds are being applied. Children are offered to visit special web sites designed for building awareness of safe behaviour online that providing useful content and information ( www.draugiskasinternetas.lt, www.mokinukai.lt). Upon registration, each new user is instructed on matters of safe Internet use. Libraries also have information boards with basic rules of safe Internet on display. In each workstation is equipped with Safe Internet Encyclopedia software, featuring concrete advice on online behaviour. All children under 18 should connect to the Internet through special link used only by minors.

Pasvalys municipality library with its 33 branches (of which 31 are in rural areas) is located in northern part of Lithuania. In 2011, the Library attracted up to 9,000 regular visitors. Similar to Plunge focus is made on various events and discussions also involving children. Topics vary from what kind of images could be uploaded online, conduct in case of receiving harmful emails or messages from online predators and etc.

Children are instructed on websites through which they can inform adults on illegal content. Pasvalys library involves children with interactive activities such as screening of documentary films and videos on threats on the Internet, listening to radio programmes and even broadcasting training sessions online. They also organise events discussing better ways for the various materials to be offered to the visitors. These include contests, short afternoon training sessions and etc.

Finally, both libraries noted the need of improving librarians’ skills in the context of safe online behaviour and emphasised the importance of EU-funded SocialWeb - SocialWork project.

[1]Publication Libraries of Innovation: Changes in Libraries and Society, Report 2008-2012. http://www.bibliotekospazangai.lt/media/public/Atsisiuntimui/TyrimuAtaskaitos/WEB_ENG/2011/2011_Report_Summary.pdf

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