‘Massive children’s presence on net alarming’



Participants at the internet expo.Exposed to abuse of children on the net, more than 80 per cent teenage internet users in Bangladesh feel they need stronger safety, says a UNICEF survey.

About 20 per cent of the surveyed teenagers who are active on the social media, are subjected to harassment or abuse.

In such a context, UNICEF, in collaboration with Facebook, on Friday launched a year-long campaign to raise awareness among children, teachers and parents and also increase their access to safe online content.

More than 10,000 students from more than 100 schools, teachers, parents, policymakers, industry leaders, and other stakeholders joined the programme at Bangabandhu Novo Theatre. Two million online visitors also participated in the event, said the organisers.

“The internet was designed for adults, but it is increasingly used by children and young people – and digital technology often affects their lives and futures. So, digital policies, practices, and products should better reflect children’s needs, perspectives and voices,” UNICEF Bangladesh representative Edouard Beigbeder told the launching ceremony.

According to the ‘State of the World’s Children 2017: Children in a digital world’, lack of adequate knowledge about proper internet use increases children’s vulnerability to risks and harms, including misuse of their private information, access to harmful content, and cyberbullying.

Edouard Beigbeder, representative of UNICEF Bangladesh, speaking at the inaugural session of mass awareness campaign.The UNICEF survey that covered 11,821 teenagers, also found that more than 50 per cent of them might fall into trap of friendship offered by unknown persons on the net. Its findings were presented at the event.

The participants observed that despite children’s massive online presence on the internet, too little is done to protect them from the perils of the digital world.

“It’s important to make cyberspace child-friendly as they face many problems while using internet,” said state minister of ICT division Zunaid Ahmed Palak. He emphasised building awareness to ensure safet internet for children.

The yearlong campaign would reach 25 million teenagers, their parents and teachers to create awareness of cyber safety, said the UNICEF representative, Edouard Beigbeder.

Shruti Moghe, a Facebook official for South Asia, said the social media site authority is working to the safety of users, especially children, in recent times.

At the gathering, a total of 47 IT-related organisations put on display their products and services.



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