We live in a digital world. Our mobile phones and internet access are not only part of our everyday life, but also that of our children. Access to the internet has never been easier: via cell phone, iPad, a personal computer and even through our TVs. There is no child who does not know how to access the internet, how to download their favorite application or their favorite game. However, there is something that children do not know enough about, and that is how to protect themselves while on the internet.

Starting in February this year, Vip Macedonia has implemented an educational and innovative program called “Internet is not just a game. Click Safe… “, aimed at the youngest internet users. Vip employees volunteered to visit 4th grade classes and share their knowledge. Here they use age-appropriate, interactive tools to teach the children about the internet and enrich their knowledge, focusing on protecting their personal data and safe ways of being part of the World Wide Web. The aim of this project is to educate children on better and smarter use of the internet, educating them on how to protect themselves from possible dangers while using the internet and social networks and raising their awareness for ethical and responsible behavior while on the internet. The workshops are conducted both in Macedonian and Albanian, and all children receive specially prepared brochures. During the workshops, conversation is encouraged, exchange of ideas and experiences are drawn from children’s everyday lives as basis for understanding the subject, while practical examples are analyzed together and children are advised how to behave in certain situations.

The Vip volunteer program began in February 2018 and includes all Vip’s activities from the social responsibility sphere. More than 20 Vip employees have volunteered since the initial call last month.

We met with two Vip volunteers who selflessly took the time to teach these 4th graders: Natasha Boshkovska, Telesales team manager and Katerina Gjorgjieva, Technical Advisor in Vip’s Fixed Services Support Center.

What motivated you to volunteer for the project “Internet is not just a game. Click Safe…?

Katerina: Working with children is my main motivation, but it is also challenging to keep the attention of a group of children at the age of 9 and to teach in a way that will be interesting to them. On the other hand, you represent the company in a positive light, participating in a major project, where the main topic is the safety of children.

Natasa: There are numerous potential hazards and risks, especially for the privacy and safety of children. My motivation for volunteering for such a project is, as Albert Einstein would say, “the result and the transfer of knowledge about the values and disadvantages” that internet has.

By now, you have visited several classes and taught the topic of safe internet. What are your experiences up to now?

Natasa: Honestly? Unrepeatable. It is a big challenge to tinker with little heads that at times know more about the topic than we do. I cannot describe to you the feeling when 30 pairs of wide-opened eyes actively follow you and at the end you realize that with their help and cooperation your success is guaranteed.

Katerina: It has been a great experience, brilliant, moments full of smiles and honest answers. I am particularly glad that children have a lot of knowledge and are eager to share with you everything they know. Every new lecture is a new experience, different from the last one. You realize that in those moments, although you have done all the preparation, it is actually the children guiding you through the lesson. These are special moments, which will become beautiful memories.

In the end, what do you think are the best things to come out of this big project?

Katerina: The project has an educational character, it is of particular importance that it covers all topics, from passwords, web pages, search engines, to data and knowledge, which have long-term benefits for children.

Natasa: This is a fantastic story to challenge not only children, but ourselves as well, with the standards of what is good and what is not. We as a company are here to provide children with appropriate education that will help protect them, develop awareness as well as to be a step ahead of the negative sides of the Internet.

The project “Internet is not just a game. Click safe… “is part of the “A1 Internet for All” initiative that began in 2011. Up to this point, more than 153,000 participants have been educated. 1,947 workshops were held in 2017 alone. Vip conducted this activity for the first time in Macedonia back in 2013, with lectures for employees’ children and their classmates, aged 9 to 12, at Vip premises.