Even as various government and private entities joined hands to mark the International Safer Internet Day 2019 on Tuesday, it would be prudent to take a serious note of a United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report which indicated that online violence, cyber-bullying and digital harassment affected over 70 per cent of young people globally, and rightly called for concerted action to tackle and prevent this form of violence.
A recent one-million-strong Unicef poll of 15- to 24-year-old’s from more than 160 countries prompted the call, along with a series of student-led #ENDviolence Youth Talks held globally, which examined what parents, teachers and policymakers could do to keep them safe.
Interestingly, in the end, kindness stood out as one of the most powerful means to prevent bullying and cyberbullying.
According to the UN International Telecommunications Union (ITU), 94 per cent of 15- to 24-year old’s in developed countries are online, and more than 65 per cent of their developing country counterparts – well ahead of the pace of Internet usage among the general population. Half of the world’s total population, regardless of age, is online, which brings increased risks.
Unicef is absolutely right in stating that cyber-bullying can cause profound harm as it can quickly reach a wide audience, and can remain accessible online indefinitely, virtually “following” its victims online for life. Bullying and cyber-bullying also feed into each other, forming a continuum of damaging behaviour.
As per data from the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, the proportion of children and adolescents affected by cyber-bullying ranges from five per cent to 21 per cent, with girls at higher risk than boys.
The need to establish an effective mechanism to develop sustainable means of communication, while maintaining a safe Internet environment should never be underestimated.
The safety of children when they are online is one of the primary concerns of modern times. Parents should guide their children and prevent them from falling prey to fake news or messages posted on social media platforms.
Malicious cyber activity should be fought efficiently and unitedly. Greater coordination among countries is essential to enact a system for fair and safe use of cyber space.
Constant vigil is essential from all sides to protect honest social media users.
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