A safer Internet

Growing up online has its tremendous possibilities – and its perils. As the boundary between online and offline fades, explore what children face today – and how we can all support them.

Violence against children is not inevitable. For every child, #ENDviolence online.

 

Sexual abuse and exploitation

80% of 18 year olds believe they are in danger of being sexually abused or taken advantage of online

What happens in the online world is a reflection of society at large. Violence, exploitation and abuse children might face in their homes, schools and communities are mirrored by violence they may face online.

Online abuse of children takes many forms. Perpetrators may produce, distribute and consume child sexual abuse material; victimize children through live streaming their sexual abuse; and groom children online for sexual exploitation. 

Child sex offenders are fast to adapt the latest technology to perpetrate crimes against children. Building a better Internet means being aware of this abuse, and supporting users who might be at risk.

Bullying and harassment

Online bullying can be swift and cruel, with dire consequences.

Building a better Internet involves getting informed, being kinder, being careful – and supporting one another.

Inappropriate self-generated content

It’s difficult to control what happens to words and images once they are shared. Exercising caution before sharing content is one way to guard against losing control of personal content, but even content that is protected or shared carefully can be leaked or stolen.

Building a better Internet means both protecting oneself by sharing carefully, and protecting others by not sharing what might embarrass or hurt them. It also means thinking about the potential to lose control of content, even before creating it.

Who do you turn to when things get tricky online?

Privacy and security

57% of 18 year olds think their friends participate in risky behaviours online

The privacy settings on social media platforms can be set to help filter who sees your information, photos and videos. It’s always important to think about what should be shared, and with whom. If privacy settings are not secured, anyone can see this information.

The privacy that we all want to enjoy applies to others, as well. It is not okay to log in to other people’s accounts or to use their phones or profiles without their permission.

Security of the platforms and channels we use is also critical. Insecure systems can allow breaches of privacy.

Building a better Internet means watching what you share, and being mindful of others’ privacy. It also means knowing whether the platforms and channels you use can be trusted to maintain the security of your information.

Freedom of speech

Freedom of speech flourishes online but comes with responsibilities. It can be difficult to understand the impact of what you say or express online, because the people with whom you are communicating are not in front of you. But words can have a profound and lasting impact on others. 

Building a better Internet means being mindful of your own and others’ boundaries – and putting into practice that "with freedom comes responsibility". – Eleanor Roosevelt, politician, diplomat, activist, United States of America

Perceived anonymity and access

36% of 18 year olds strongly believe that they can tell when people are lying about who they are online

The Internet allows us to reach across so many boundaries – geographic and interpersonal. But a child’s increased access can be met by a perpetrator’s ability to reach her or him, particularly if the access lacks supervision.

The freedom to explore the world anonymously applies to others, as well. And 'anonymity', itself, is misleading. The Internet allows users to interact without disclosing their identities, but what we do online leaves a digital footprint. It is difficult to maintain privacy online.

Building a better Internet means understanding the possibilities and perils of increased access, anonymity – and the sense of anonymity.

Devices

Gone are the days when Internet access was restricted to precious few devices, and a few privileged people. Computers, tablets, smartphones, gaming consoles, televisions and music players offer many ways to interact on the Internet.

Building a better Internet means being cognizant of all the ways in which people get there, and having a frank discussion about its possibilities and its perils.

Safety and trust

The Internet is full of scams, and those who perpetrate them are increasingly sophisticated. Fake job offers, friends in distress abroad, promises of quick money, phishing – the list goes on and on. The potential to succumb to a scam online is great, and it's a peril we all face.

Building a better Internet means trusting your instincts and doing your research. Avoid potentially harmful situations like meeting someone you ‘met’ online alone and in a desolate place and without telling a trusted adult. And make sure to support others in doing the same.

Take action

Initiatives and partnerships

Research and data