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More than 175,000 children go online for the first time every day, according to a press release from UNICEF.

Observing the ‘Safer Internet Day’ worldwide on February 6 with the theme ‘Create, Connect and Share Respect: A better Internet starts with you’, UNICEF issued a global press release calling for renewed urgency and cooperation among governments, civil society, United Nations agencies, other international children’s organisations and private sector to put children at the centre of digital policy.

The press release states that digital access exposes children to a wealth of benefits and opportunities but also to a host of risks and harms, including access to harmful content, sexual exploitation and abuse, cyber-bullying, and misuse of their private information.

UNICEF called for actions such as coordinating the global, regional and national response, safeguarding children’s privacy, empowering children online through more equitable access and digital literacy, leveraging the unique role of the private sector, and investing in better evidence about access, opportunities and risks for children online.

The State of the World’s Children 2017: Children in a Digital World states that even though worldwide one in three internet users is a child, too little is done to protect them from the perils of the digital world, to safeguard the trail of information their online activities create, and to increase their access to safe and quality online content.

UNICEF’s director of data with research and policy, Laurence Chandy, said that in the time it takes to click on a link, a child somewhere begins creating a digital trail which those not necessarily considering the child’s best interest can follow and potentially exploit. “As younger and younger children join the Internet, the need to have a serious discussion about how to keep them safe online and secure their digital footprint becomes increasingly urgent.”

Staff Reporter

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