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MoCIS and UNICEF: All children should have access to a safe digital world

 Today, December 11, the Ministry of Communications and Information Society (MoCIS) and UNICEF in Romania launched The State of the World’s Children 2017: Children in a Digital World. UNICEF’s first comprehensive look at the different ways digital technology is affecting children’s lives and life chances, the report identifies dangers as well as opportunities.

“In this digital world, we need to make the most of the benefits the Internet has to offer each and every child, including those living in rural areas, while limiting the dangers children may be exposed to. Consequently, digital policies, practices and products should better reflect children’s needs, perspectives and voices. For this reason, the UNICEF report and the CERT-RO [Romanian National Computer Security Incident Response Team] guide which also outlines measures for avoiding the perils we are susceptible to online are both important,” said Mr. Lucian Șova, the Minister of Communications and Information Society, at the launch of the report.

The UNICEF report explores the benefits digital technology can offer 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.

“The Internet was designed for adults, but it is increasingly used by children and young people whose lives and futures are increasingly affected by digital technology. Collective action – by governments, the private sector, children’s organizations, academia, professionals, families and children themselves – can help level the digital playing field and make the internet safer and more accessible for children,” said Pieter Bult, UNICEF Representative in Romania, at the launch of the report.

According to the report, 1 in 3 internet users worldwide is a child, 71 per cent are online compared with 48 per cent of the total population. However, 3 out of 5 African youth are offline, compared to just 1 in 25 in Europe. Thus, 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. 

The report also examines how the internet increases children’s vulnerability to risks and harms, including misuse of their private information, access to harmful content, and cyberbullying. The ubiquitous presence of mobile devices, the report notes, has made online access for many children less supervised – and potentially more dangerous.

Practical recommendations to help guide more effective policymaking and more responsible business practices to benefit children worldwide include:

· Put children at the centre of digital policy.

· Teach digital literacy to keep children informed, engaged and safe online.

· Protect children from harm online – including abuse, exploitation, trafficking, cyberbullying and exposure to unsuitable materials.

· Leverage the power of the private sector to advance ethical standards and practices that protect and benefit children online.

· Safeguard children’s privacy and identities online.

· Provide all children with affordable access to high-quality online resources.

At the launch of the UNICEF report, CERT-RO presented a parents’ guide to children’s safety online. The guide includes a set of rules and safeguards for avoiding dangers in the digital world.

About UNICEF in Romania

UNICEF is on the ground in Romania and other 190 countries and territories to promote children’s right to survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. In Romania, UNICEF works with the Government, the Parliament, the local authorities, the civil society, the private sector, national and international partners, and the mass media, to provide all children with access to quality early education and school, protect adolescents and monitor child rights, ensure social protection and leverage resources for children. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

About CERT-RO

CERT-RO is a public institution responsible for preventing, analysing, identifying and reacting to incidents affecting cyber infrastructures of public utility or information society services.

 

 
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