The UN Childrens’ Fund (UNICEF) has urged government and the private sector to protect children from online abuse, exploitation, trafficking, cyber bullying and exposure to unsuitable materials.
Eva Hinds, the Communication Specialist of UNICEF, said in a statement in Abuja on Monday that the Executive Director of the fund, Anthony Lake, made the call at the unveiling of annual flagship report on “The State of the World’s Children 2017: Children in a digital world.”
Hinds said Lake had noted that one out of three children worldwide used the internet.
He added that in spite of children’s massive online presence or usage, too little was done to protect them from the perils of the digital world and to increase their access to safe online content.
Lake, therefore, emphasised collective efforts by government, the private sector, children’s organisations, academia, families and children themselves to level the digital playing field and make the internet safer and more accessible for children.
The executive director said “UNICEF report x-rays the different ways digital technology is affecting children’s lives and chances, identifying dangers, as well as opportunities.
“It argues that governments and the private sector have not kept up the pace of change, exposing children to new risks and harms and leaving millions of the most disadvantaged children behind.
“The report also examines how the internet increases children’s vulnerability to risks and harms, including misuse of their private information, access to harmful content, and cyber bullying.
“It notes the ubiquitous presence of mobile devices, which make online access for many children less supervised and potentially more dangerous.
“For better and for worse, digital technology is now an irreversible fact of our lives; digital world, our dual challenge is how to mitigate the harms while maximising the benefits of the internet for every child.”
The report, according to Lake, recommends that government, among others, should protect children’s privacy and identity online, as well as place them at the centre of digital policy.
He stressed the need for government and the private sector to advance ethical standards and practices that would protect and benefit children while they surf the internet.