Children safety in the Internet. UNICEF launches studies on youth online behavior, safety in Ukraine, Russia and Turkey
Geneva/Kyiv, 18 November, 2011 — UNICEF today launched three exploratory studies which analyze the access and behavior of young people online and highlight the safety risks they face in these countries with fast growing digital communities.
The UN body urges young people, families and governments to maximize the use of Internet Communication Technologies (ICTs) while minimizing risks such as meeting strangers they connect with on line in real life without adult supervision, sharing personal information online and also cyber bullying. The appeal is part of UNICEF`s mandate to advocate for children`s rights to express themselves and to seek and receive information. Although the Convention of the Rights of the Child was declared on 20 November 1989 - before the Internet became widely used - it is highly pertinent when it comes to young people accessing, posting and sharing content online.
The launch comes prior to a national children forum and policy makers` conference on 21-22 November to discuss the Turkish study findings in Ankara. Both groups will present their recommendations on 23 November to the national parliament where the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Speaker Cemil Cicek are scheduled to attend.
Among the main findings are:
The UaNet Generation:
There is a large amount of Russian and western influence while Ukrainian sites lag behind. As in the Russian Federation, one major risk identified is meeting strangers offline without their friends or families knowledge, according to a joint Microsoft-UNESCO survey in 2011. More young people access the Internet by using computers at home. They are more exposed to safety risks (providing personal information such as home addresses when lured by promises of winning things) than those logging on from mobile, according to the same report.
The RuNet Generation :
The young people surveyed exchanges overwhelmingly on Russian-bred websites and spend nearly seven hours online compared to the worldwide average of 3.7 hours per month, according to Comscore. Up to 40 per cent of Russians surveyed aged 9-16 reported meeting someone from the online world in real life, reported the Foundation for Internet Development, a leading Russian organization focusing on ICT-related matters. Other significant risks discovered include exposure to adult content, malicious software and cyber bullying.
Youth of Turkey Online:
The Turkish Internet is dominated by Facebook, Google and Hotmail and is accessed more by boys than girls underlining a stark gender-based digital divide. They log onto the Internet at home though schools and Internet cafes are also popular places. The primary risks faced by young people are sharing personal information without proper precaution, exposure to malicious software and cyber bullying, among other hazards.
"Young people in this region are quick and eager to adopt new technologies. They are enjoying a phenomenal rise in ICT access but have meager understanding of its safe and optimal use. We need to ensure their right to be protected while having full access to new means of communication and information sharing," said Kirsi Madi, Deputy Regional Director of UNICEF Regional Office for Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States.
All three studies are based on reliable Turkish, Russian, Ukrainian and international research which have been validated by national academics, government and industry representatives at UNICEF-supported workshops in Moscow, Kiev and Ankara. Researchers have further identified a need to generate primary data and analyze online access and behavior of vulnerable children in poorer rural areas and in institutions.
The work is part of a global Digital Citizenship and Safety Project to better understand and address the impact of ICTs on the lifestyle of children and young people in developing countries. The project also aims to raise awareness among the public and advocate to policy makers on how to minimize ICTs risks while maximizing on its opportunities.
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About UNICEF: The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is a world leader on protection of child rights and best interests of a child. UNICEF is working on the ground in 150 countries to protect and support children from early childhood through adolescence. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. UNICEF opened its office in Ukraine in 1997. For more information: www.unicef.org.ua
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You can download the UaNet generation research here and presentation of main findings of the research here.