Digital Access and Safety for children from all walks of life is the call of the hour says UNICEF report

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Bhubaneswar: UNICEF released its annual flagship report ‘The State of the World’s Children 2017: Children in a Digital World’ in the city today. The report was released by Shri Prafulla Samal, Minister W&CD, SSEPD, MSME and Mission Shakti, Shri Nikhil Kumar Kanodia, IPS, DIG of Police, CID CB, Odisha (IG Crimes) and Ms. Yumi Bae, Chief, UNICEF Odisha along with 45 adolescents and young people from different organizations and institutions in the city.
The State of the World’s Children 2017: Children in a Digital World presents UNICEF’s first comprehensive look at the different ways digital technology is affecting children’s lives and life chances, identifying dangers as well as opportunities. It argues that governments and the private sector have not kept up with the pace of change, exposing children to new risks and harms and leaving millions of the most disadvantaged children behind.
The release of the report was accompanied by a moderated discussion between the adolescents and youth with invited dignitaries. Issues raised by children and youth were experiential and wide ranging – access to technology; its use and benefits; harms of being online and laws that govern technology and its impact.
Interacting with the young people and children, Ms. Yumi Bae, Chief, UNICEF Odisha said, “Despite children and young people’s massive online presence – 1 in 3 internet users in the world is a child, too little is done to protect them from the perils of the digital world and to increase their access to safe content online.  Governments, private sector, communities, and media need to come together to provide equitable and quality access while ensuring that the rights of all children are protected as they navigate the online space, very often unsupervised and alone.”
This was preceded by a half-day workshop with the 45 youth and adolescents to discuss current issues around access and benefits of the internet and risks they are susceptible to online.
Report highlights: – The report explores the benefits digital technology can offer to all children, especially the most disadvantaged – increasing their access to information, building skills for the digital workplace, and giving them a platform to connect and communicate their views.- It also shows that millions of children are missing out. Around one third of the world’s youth – 346 million – are not online, worsening inequities and reducing children’s ability to participate in an increasingly digital economy. – It 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.
Additional facts from the report include:• 1 in 3 internet users worldwide is a child• Young people are the most connected age group. Worldwide, 71 per cent are online compared with 48 per cent of the total population. • Nearly 9 out of 10 of young people currently not using the internet live in Africa, Asia or the Pacific. • In India less than one third of internet users are women.• Approximately 56 per cent of all websites are in English and many children cannot find content they understand or that is culturally relevant.  • More than 9 in 10 child sexual abuse URLs identified globally are hosted in five countries – Canada, France, the Netherlands, the Russian Federation and the United States.
Only collective action – by governments, the private sector, children’s organizations, academia, families and children themselves – can help level the digital playing field and make the internet safer and more accessible for children, the report says.
• Provide all children with affordable access to high-quality online resources. • Protect children from harm online – including abuse, exploitation, trafficking, cyber bullying 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.• Put children at the center of digital policy.

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