Digital Skills | Youth
February 11, 2020

Meet Sango – the new Child Online Protection mascot!

By Anaëlle Cathelineau

The following article was written by Anaëlle Cathelineau, a student from Ferney Voltaire, France, Deputy Secretary General of the first Futurecasters Global Young Visionaries Summit (8-10 January 2020) and Chair of the Child Online Protection (COP) Kids side event on 9 January 2020 at ITU. The new COP mascot was developed collaboratively by children aged 8-13 as part of classroom activities in preparation for a school excursion to ITU for the Futurecasters Global Young Visionaries Summit.

During the Summit, the special one-day Child Online Protection (COP) Kids side event gave young children the opportunity to hear from ITU and external experts, teachers and older students about the risks and harms that the online world brings. They participated in training sessions on ‘Basic Skills for online Safety’, led by Action Innocence, ICON and TikTok, and they heard about the opportunities that the digital world offers while learning behaviours that will help keep them safe online. A wide range of issues were discussed, including data protection, privacy, online bullying, harassment and violent or other harmful content.

Here is the article:

Together for a better internet. That’s today’s message on Safer Internet Day 2020. We should aim to make the Internet a better place all year around, not just one day of the year. We have to learn skills to protect ourselves online and become digitally literate so that we can enjoy fully without being harmed – but we need the support of our families, teachers, policy makers and the industry.

That is why ITU has launched the Child Online Protection Initiative (COP).

Of course, we all know that the Internet and digital technologies have the potential to transform our lives. We know we can access lots of educational, cultural and economic opportunities online; I can talk to my friends, watch my favourite TV shows, learn new skills that will help me find a job in the future, and find ways to help create a better world for everyone.

But too often, us children cannot access these opportunities because the Internet is also a place where vulnerable people are exposed to the risks of serious harm.

In January this year, I joined about 80 children from four different schools in France and Morocco at ITU headquarters in Geneva for the COP Kids event. That is where we decided on the new mascot for the Child Online Protection Initiative.

We all drew one at school and invented its story: where it came from, where it lived, and how it supported it’s friends in their safe and empowering online experience.

We then had to choose one of four potential COP mascots. We discussed which ones we liked as a big group, and voted for the mascot and corresponding story we liked best to become the new champion for the COP Initiative.

And this is where I am very pleased to welcome the new COP Mascot, Sangophone! – Some call him also Sango, the Ninja Phone! But I’ll let him introduce himself. Welcome Sango!

“Hello, my name is Sangophone and I am a Japanese phone. I live in Tokyo in a family of three children – brothers Kiko, who is 4, and Yoko, who is 10, and their big sister Kim, who is 15. As my use exposes them to all kinds of dangers, I decided to be a revolutionary phone that alerts them and helps them fight against the dangers of the internet. And, believe me, I have my work cut out for me every day!

There are many different dangers, depending on the age of the children. For example, Kiko watches videos on unsafe web pages, Yoko plays violent games that do not correspond to his age, and Kim shares photos of herself on social media…

So I thought of several ways to warn them about the risks and protect them from bad online habits. For example, as soon as I am in little Kiko’s hands, I activate the parental control to block all sites that could potentially be unsuitable for his age. I also set my timer to go off after 15 minutes, because too much time online isn’t a good idea.

When 8-year old Yoko plays online games, I allow access to only those that are age-appropriate, so that he is not confronted by shocking, or even traumatic images. I also ensure Yoko uses pre-registered IDs that do not give any information about his real identity, and I display an alert message that reminds him to always be wary of the people he plays with online, because one cannot be certain of their true identity. Finally, when his connection lasts too long, I don’t hesitate to put myself on standby to remind him that it would be nice to go out and play with his real friends.

As for Kim, I make sure she takes more care on social media platforms. In fact, she could have been a victim of cyber-bullying had I not immediately blocked the photo that one of her classmates had sent of a donkey with glasses, captioned with the phrase “Here is Kim the nerd”.

Finally, for all three children, I put my at-sign headband on my camera to prevent any intrusion into their private life and that of their family! This is how I fight to help my little protégés!”
— CM1/CM2 students (Elodie’s class)

I am happy that Sango can now help children and young people with their digital experience.

Let’s make the Internet a better place for all, and happy Safer Internet Day! As Sango says: stay safe and have fun online!

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Meet Sango – the new Child Online Protection mascot!

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