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Watch what you say, the children are reading too

With the Internet, especially social media, becoming a part of our lives, we should perhaps spare a thought for our children, who now also have access to the Internet. And the only way we can protect them is by being responsible.

As members of the cyber-community, each and every one of us needs to realise that every tweet, post, comment or item we share on the Net can be seen and read by young people.

According to the World Bank, more than 25 per cent of the 15 million children in Thailand have access to the Internet.

ECPAT International, which strives to end the commercial sexual exploitation of children, says the biggest danger for kids are online chatrooms. Besides, 71 per cent of child Net surfers have been found to have visited websites with sexually explicit images, and of them, 52 per cent have shown no regret.

In addition, studies have shown that when children encounter exploitation or are lured by paedophiles online, 45 per cent tend to keep the problem to themselves, making it difficult for parents to protect them.

Ola Jo Tandre, director of sustainability for the Telenor Group, said children needed to be given access to positive, stimulating content and that ensuring online safety was an important priority for everybody.

Telenor has started off by launching the "Use Your Head" campaign against cyber-bullying in Norway. Under this campaign, its people visited more than 450 schools and helped almost 140,000 pupils and 26,000 adults improve their understanding of cyber-bullying.

Six out of 10 young participants said they were glad they now knew how to deal with bullies on the Net, while eight out of 10 said they realised that posting people's pictures without their consent was illegal.

"Use Your Head" is recognised by the European Union as an important initiative to fight digital bullying.

According to an analysis of several surveys, a significant number of children encounter risks online.

These include the 14 million or so youngsters who are exposed to potentially harmful user-generated content; about 35 million who may have experienced cyber-bullying; some 5 million who may have unknowingly subscribed to commercial services; and some 6 million who may have been subjected to misuse of personal data.

To make the Net safe for children, everybody - parents, teachers, authorities, content providers, service providers, connectivity providers, civil society, educators and especially people online - needs to work together. And to start this, we should begin with ourselves and watch what we tweet, post, comment on or share over the Internet and social media.


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