Children in a digital world
Children represent one third of Internet users. In a recent report entitled "Children in a Digital World" UNICEF leaves no doubt that much more needs to be done in order to protect them from the dangers lying in wait for them online.
Nowadays, the Internet is a widespread and almost indispensable tool, especially among the youngest (15-24 years old) who make up the most connected social group. Life without the Internet, as many of us knew it before its creation, is an unthinkable scenario for most of these young people.
Their digital footprint is such that they often take their first steps into the digital world even before they do so in the real world, e.g. when a parent publishes their photo or a doctor creates their medical file.
And yet the dangers linked to the Internet are not new, especially for children who are exposed to different types of physical, verbal or sexual violence, but also to harassment or to misuse or theft of their personal data.
All the same, the digital world and technologies are not merely a threat, they are also an outstretched hand to disadvantaged children who are offered opportunities for learning as well as a possibility to express themselves and to socialize. However, these opportunities remain elusive for millions of children who do not have access to digital technologies and the Internet.
This digital inequality is also gender-related. Indeed, there are 12 percent more men than women on the Internet, especially in low-income countries.
Some key points of the report:
- The most connected age group are young people (1524 years old): only 346 million young people, less than 1 in 3 worldwide, are not connected.
- Among all users, 1 in 3 is under 18.
- The least connected are the young Africans: 3 out of 5 young Africans do not have access to the Internet compared to 1 out of 25 young Europeans.
- About 56 percent of the web pages are in English and their content is not understandable or culturally relevant to many children.
- More than 9 out of 10 identified child pornography sites are hosted in five countries: Canada, France, the Netherlands, Russia and the United States.
For more information, please read the full UNICEF report.