Like any major highway, the internet is a place to navigate with care. In 2013, France’s National Gendarmerie joined forces with AXA Prévention, a non-profit organisation for responsible behaviour, and came up with a way to teach 10-year-olds how to safely surf the net. Six years later, two million kids were proud holders of a “permis internet,” or “internet licence.”
The internet licence is a symbolic permit granted at the end of a training programme to help children and their families recognise the risks of being online, and act safely and responsibly to avoid them. First, a gendarme presents the programme in class. Then teachers take over, parents play a role, and finally the children receive their licences at an awards ceremony in the presence of their parents, the press and local authorities. The internet licence now covers all of France.
As habits evolve, so does the programme. A 2019 study sponsored by AXA Prevention revealed that 38 percent of young people aged 9-11 have felt afraid or shocked while surfing the net – double the percentage in 2013. In response, the programme is adding two new themes, cyber harassment and excessive screen time.
We organised a special ceremony to deliver the two millionth internet licence on 28 June 2019, at the Station F startup incubator in Paris, attended by Laurent Nuñez, Secretary of State to the Interior Minister. Nearly 100 students came, and were invited to talk with prevention specialists and programme partners, participate in workshops with startups, and sit for the licence exam. In this digital age, defensive driving is a skill everyone should know.
• 20,000 classes trained each year
• 2M internet licences delivered
• More than 2,000 media mentions