*Image credit UNICEF, India
UNICEF’s flagship publication, The State of the World’s Children 2017 was released by the Hon’ble Governor of Jharkhand in Raj Bhawan here today. The theme of this year’s report is ‘Children in a Digital World’.
Despite children’s massive online presence – 1 in 3 internet users worldwide is a child – too little is done to protect them from the perils of the digital world and to increase their access to safe online content.
The report explores the benefits digital technology can offer the most disadvantaged children, including those growing up in poverty or affected by humanitarian emergencies. These include increasing their access to information, building skills for the digital workplace, and giving them a platform to connect and communicate their views.
But the report shows that millions of children are missing out. Around one third of the world’s youth – 346 million – are not online, exacerbating inequities and reducing children’s ability to participate in an increasingly digital economy.
Droupadi Murmu, Hon’ble Governor of Jharkhand said, “If leveraged in the right way and universally accessible, digital technology can be a game changer for children being left behind – whether because of poverty, race, ethnicity, gender, disability, displacement or geographic isolation – connecting them to a world of opportunity and providing them with the skills they need to succeed in a digital world.”
Dr, Madhulika Jonathan, Chief of UNICEF Jharkhand said, “The report represents the first comprehensive look from UNICEF at the different ways digital technology is affecting children, identifying dangers as well as opportunities. It makes a clear call to governments, the digital technology sector and telecom industries to level the digital playing field for children by creating policies, practices and products that can help children harness digital opportunities and protect them from harm.”
She added, “The Report lists out six priority actions to harness the power of digitalization while benefiting the most disadvantaged children and limiting harm to the most vulnerable. These are provide all children with affordable access to high-quality online resources; protect children from harm online – including abuse, exploitation, trafficking, cyberbullying and exposure to unsuitable materials; safeguard children’s privacy and identities online; teach digital literacy to keep children informed, engaged and safe online; leverage the power of the private sector to advance ethical standards and practices that protect and benefit children online.; and put children at the centre of digital policy.”
Vinay Kumar Choubey, Secretary, Department of Women & Child Development said, “With more than 430 million internet users, India has the second largest internet user base in the world. There is a digital gender gap. Globally, 12 per cent more men than women used the internet in 2017. In India, less than one third of internet users are female. The internet penetration is higher in urban areas, 60% in urban areas compared to 17% in rural areas, however the potential to grow is huge. The current wave of growth in penetration of internet is being driven by the adoption of mobile internet. Some 77% of urban users and 92% of rural users consider mobile as the primary device for accessing the Internet, largely driven by availability and affordability of smartphones. There is a need for faster action, focused investment and greater cooperation to protect children from the harms of a more connected world, even as we harness the opportunities of the digital age to benefit every child.”
Arti Kujur, Chairperson, SCPCR said, “Digital technology can make children more susceptible to harm online and off. Information Communication Technology (ICT) is fueling new forms of child abuse and exploitation, such as ‘made-to-order’ child sexual abuse material and live streaming of child sexual abuse. Predators can more easily contact unsuspecting children through anonymous and unprotected social media profiles and game forums. This is challenging the ability of law enforcement to keep up. All stakeholders need to come together to provide children with affordable access to high-quality online resources and protect them from harm online.”
The programme was attended by S.K.Satapathy, Principal Secretary to the Governor; M S Rao, ADG CID; UNICEF staff and government school children.