SmartBus: Next Stop Online Safety
Younger generations are growing up as digital natives in a world where life without the Internet, mobile phones, or other tech gadgets is unimaginable. And while the Internet can be fun, exciting, and educational, it also has its dangers.
Children and adolescents who are still learning how the world works can face many threats like cyberbullying, age-inappropriate content, grooming, data privacy, and identity theft.
The children's charity UNICEF reports that one in three Internet users is a child under the age of 18. And in the EU – according to the 2020 report EU Kids Online from the London School of Economics and Political Science – more than 80% of children aged 9 to 16 use a smartphone and 47% use a PC or laptop to go online. The same report also states that more than 20% of children between the ages of 9 and 14 have had a bad experience on the Internet. However, only 44% of respondents sought support from friends, 37% talked to their parents, and just 7% reported the situation to their teachers.
Cyber insecurity has become a problem that needs to be tackled on an ongoing basis. With that in mind, Huawei developed the SmartBus project to provide children and adolescents aged between 10 and 15 with the information they need to surf the Internet safely. Mentors on the SmartBus create an engaging, interactive, and fun learning environment that children can relate to. They do this through activities such as games inspired by Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp that simulate potentially risky situations like photo-sharing requests or being encouraged to use gambling apps.
With the motto of #ShareWithoutRisk, the SmartBus training helps kids become more aware of accessing age-appropriate information and how to take protective measures such as using antivirus software, keeping their devices updated, choosing strong passwords, and configuring social networks to maximize data privacy, including location. Children are also instructed to be mindful of acting with the same caution online as they would do in real life and to immediately report any inappropriate contact to a teacher or parent.
As of the end of September 2022, the Huawei SmartBus had visited more than 300 different schools in eight countries, including Portugal, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Spain, reaching more than 65,000 children, parents, and teachers.
Children, parents & teachers reached