UNICEF released a technical note with some of the risks that children may face during COVID-19. They also highlighted the essential actions to take to secure children’s online experience.
- Children may be doubly at risk
- Online: children in isolation might be more receptive to online predators
- Offline: domestic violence can easily escalate
- Messaging, online gaming and viewing different platforms put inexperienced internet users at risk of online discrimination
Reckless online behaviour
- Irresponsible online behaviour may lead to carelessly sharing personal data on the Internet
- Without supervision, children can be exposed to harmful, violent, and political content, misinformation or harmful marketing that are not age appropriate
- This can lead to self-harm, fear and anxiety
- Inappropriate management of children’s personal data can result in data leakage.
Lack of supervision
- Parents may not be properly informed about school district policies and may not be technologically skilled enough to safeguard their child’s online safety
Steps ought to be taken:
- Children must be prepared for online life
- Children should have access to information, advice and support. They should also be able to share their thoughts with policymakers.
Parents should be supported
- Parents must be trained to recognize stress, depression or anxiety in their child. They need the knowledge, tools and resources to cope with the problems that can arise from using the Internet.
Digital safety measures should be taken by schools
- Students and parents need to be taught about maintaining a safe online learning experience. At the same time, schools are required to provide the necessary resources on digital safety (e.g. Interland, internetmatters.org, NSPCC or Childnet International).
Companies need to ensure safe online platforms
- Tech companies, in collaboration with governments, have to equip disadvantaged children with the necessary tools for learning.
- Companies developing platforms and apps for virtual learning have to integrate safety features that secure the users’ privacy.
Governments need to intervene
- Governments should take responsibility and address the potential and probable dangers of increased online activity by taking precautions. Professionals should be trained, and children should be supplied with essential resources and support.