May 5, 2020
Reducing the net risk to children
Keeping children safe online should be a major priority of internet providers, content creators, and the authorities. Writing in the International Journal of Web Based Communities, a team from India has surveyed international efforts.
To overcome online risks, we need to understand the characteristics of the online ecosystem and to learn how to cope once risks are faced. The online ecosystem involves different stakeholders such as service providers, the physical network, online users being connected, social media sites and tools and technology, the team reports. "Elimination of online risks is difficult," they have found, "but the intensity of risks can be reduced."
Dittin Andrews of the Center for Development of Advanced Computing, in Electronics City, Bangalore, worked with Sreejith Alathur and Naganna Chetty of the National Institute of Technology Karnataka, in Surathkal, Mangalore, on the survey.
With an increase in the availability of rich content over the internet, information and communication technology (ICT) has brought many benefits to users of all ages around the world," the team writes. ICT is transforming societies and economies. It has also attracted children to its benefits, with many regularly accessing social networking sites, playing video games, and sharing videos, for instance. With any positive benefit, there is always a negative, however, and access to the boundless resources of the online world brings with it risks to vulnerable young people. This might be through exposure to inappropriate materials, exploitation through malware or social engineering, cyber-bullying, and even the risk of physical and mental harm when the online world spills into their offline lives.
"International bodies are providing assistance to children online with different tools, technologies, regulations, legal protections, safety resources, education, training, guidance, safety measures, crime reporting system, and child-friendly search engines," the team writes. However, much remains to be done to address the countless risks to which children are exposed online.