Turkey joined the world yesterday in marking Safer Internet Day, an occasion to raise awareness about the dangers children and the youth face online, from falling victim to child pornography to cyberbullying.
In Turkey, 60 percent of the population is now connected to the internet, with 71 million mobile phone users and 42 million social media users in a population of over 80 million.
Users spend an average of seven hours a day on the computer, three hours on their smartphones. The country introduced a free option to switch to Safer Internet Service seven years ago, enabling families to protect their children from inappropriate content online.
According to data released by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat), children are starting to use computers as young as 8 years old.
Speaking at an event in Ankara on Safer Internet Day, Ömer Fatih Sayan, head of Information Technologies and Communications Agency (BTK),the top state-run internet watchdog, said this year's theme for the day was "a better internet starts with you".
He noted that some 6 million users have opted for Safer Internet Service since its introduction and they reached out to thousands of students, educators, and families for educating them about a safer use of the internet, through mobile units visiting cities and towns.
Another area of focus for Turkey is to curb cyberbullying, a threat to youth around the world, pushing some to as far as committing suicide.
BTK and Samsung recently started an initiative called, "Don't be a cyberbully," which raises awareness and provides training to children, young people, families, and teachers on the protection of their personal rights online.