A shocking 60 percent of children within the age group of 8-12 years are prone to at least one of many forms of cyber-risks. DQ Institute, a global think tank engaged in setting the global standards for digital intelligence in education systems and government policies has conducted a global survey to get the real picture of cyber-safety.
The threat to children in the 21st century is not only restricted to real-life situations. With the advent of online space, the easy availability of the Internet, and the ever-growing tendency to live a parallel life online has given birth to new kinds of threats and challenges for the young.
With this digital-driven world that we are now living in, it becomes imperative that we find novel solutions and bring about stringent laws to keep cyber crimes and risks against children and adolescents at bay.
In a first-of-its-kind survey across 30 countries, DQ Institute suggests a grim picture of how the majority of children aged 8-12, are exposed to one or another kind of cyber-security risks. Child online safety index or ‘COSI’ is developed by the institute not just to show the world the cons of technology but so that it can serve as an aid in building global and national measures to curb cyber-risks.
This first-ever report was consciously launched on the occasion of ‘Safer Internet Day,’ and the study has, in fact, unfolded some disheartening facts and figures about the digital safety of the young.
Below are a few highlighting statistics drawn from the COSI:
154,426 children and adolescents were surveyed in 30 countries through COSI over the last three years to obtain this data. Among the nations, the children of Thailand had the most exposure to cyber issues with 79 % and Japan, the least with 24 %.
Countries can take help from COSI to have an insight into their children’s exposure to cyber issues and thus, formulate necessary policies to save them from such modern-day challenges.
DQ Institute initiated COSI as a part of their #DQEveryChild global movement and has received active collaboration from other organizations working on a global scale. Twitter, AIS, Singtel, World Economic Forum, TURKCELL, Optus, and JA Worldwide are some of the important organizations that collaborated with the institute for the movement.
DQ assessment tools and its global database is also linked with COSI so that it can keep track of the progress made by nations in securing cyberspace for their children.
Apart from cyber-risks, COSI constitutes another five measures related to the use of the internet.
Disciplined digital use:
Excessive screen time, addiction to gaming and social media addiction are also important issues that are prevalent among children throughout the globe. According to COSI, the age group between 8 to 19 years in Japan spends almost 24 hours on screen in a week which is the highest in the world.
The ability to use technology safely and with responsibility is considered digital competency and is counted as an important parameter in COSI. India ranked first among other nations in this section.
Guidance and Education:
Guidance and education from parents and teachers in the use of technology are essential to avoid mishaps. Egypt comes first when it comes to effective direction from parents.
The social infrastructure section of COSI evaluates the initiatives and policies of the national government to counter cybercrimes against children. The USA ranks first in providing the best social infrastructure.
Access to the internet is another parameter of COSI. It evaluates regulated yet ample access of internet to children and Singapore comes first when it comes to connectivity.
The COSI reports give us the view that Western and East Asian countries are doing a better job in protecting their children from online threats while Latin American, middle eastern, African, south, and southeast Asian nations lag.
Final remarks of Dr. Yuhyun Park, the founder of DQ Institue:
“The Child Online Safety Index should serve as a wakeup call to everyone about the safety of the world’s children online.
No nation, even those ranked highly, has cause for complacency. What we are witnessing is a global cyber-pandemic with high exposure to multiple forms of online risks threatening children across all the countries we surveyed.
Everyone in society has a role to play in turning this around. Businesses, from social media and telecommunications to hardware and gaming companies, should make child online safety a core business principle. Companies should also partner with schools to help tackle cyberbullying. And governments must back stronger digital education. Most importantly, parents must be aware that they can make changes and reduce online harm. Helping children discipline their digital use from an early age is a necessary starting point for mitigating cyber risks. Primary schools also must teach students digital citizenship as part of their standard curriculum.
Through the index, countries will be able to identify areas of improvement through global benchmarking and then better focus on deploying initiatives for their children’s online safety.”
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