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Children in a Digital World: Benefits and Perils. Awareness as Key to Safety.
“For better and for worse, digital technology is now an irreversible fact of our lives,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “In a digital world, our dual challenge is how to mitigate the harms while maximizing the benefits of the internet for every child.”
Digital technologies cannot be considered as only beneficial or purely dangerous. On one hand, the most disadvantaged children could get a substantial benefit from extended access to information, gaining skills of digital workplace and having a platform for socialization and opinion exchange.
On another hand, internet increases children’s vulnerability to risks and harms, and the state of helplessness in front of potential hazards. However, prohibition is not an answer here, as it is not a solution in any area of life.
Here are a few recommendations on how parents and schools, as well as children themselves can increase their protection by taking a few safety measures:
According to the studies, most adolescents when facing an online threat are more likely to share it with friends and peers (54%), rather than parents (48%) or teachers (19%). Besides, data show that adolescent girls (78%) value their privacy more highly and more conscious about the threats or messages of sexual or violent character, rather than adolescent boys (33%). 58% of girls surveyed say that they would tell their parents about an online threat, while for adolescent boys the number is just 38%.
It is important to provide youth and children an independent access to information on how to behave and what to do when facing an online hazard, or have someone who is able to give a useful recommendation on how to react to a threat, bullying or an invitation to meet from a stranger.
You can find the 2017 State of the World’s Children Report: “Children in a digital world” here.