More than 175,000 children go online for the first time every day – a new child every half second. Digital access exposes these children to a wealth of benefits and opportunities, but also to a host of risks and harms.
In East Asia, young people are becoming some of the most active, and influential users. In the Philippines, around 44 million internet users are children aged 17 and below. In Thailand, 60 per cent of children aged 6-14 are online, and in Indonesia around 60 per cent of children are accessing the internet through mobile devices.
Children from across the region shared their views with UNICEF and CRC Asia on how they use the internet and what can be done to stay safe online. The results of the consultation, supported by WePROTECT*, will be presented to Government officials at the ASEAN-hosted Regional Consultation towards Integrated National Responses to End the Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in ASEAN Member States in Jakarta.
Find out what some of the participants had to say:
Wulan, 14, Indonesia
I worry that children can get addicted to the internet. Parents should understand what their children are doing on the internet. My parents know what I am doing on social media. I think the law should be strengthened to protect children from online abuse, I haven’t been bullied, but I know that some of my friends have.”
Azhmir, 16, Brunei Darussalam
I do think there are dangers that can really impact your life, so we do have to be careful. Blocking websites won’t work – we need to teach everyone about staying safe online. Sites can be blocked in countries but people will always find a way around that.”
April, 17, Philippines
For me, the biggest concern is fake news. I’ve seen fake stories about celebrities or information about diets that could actually be dangerous. I’m easily fooled by it and we need to find a solution to eradicate it.”
Dustin, 15, Indonesia
I like to search for news on Indonesia and what is happening around the world. I worry that the internet might affect children’s health as they use it for too long.”
Naval, 14, Indonesia
I worry that children might be able to access pornographic sites and be bullied. I think the government should help to make the internet safer for children. Also, children like me need to be brave to say no to friends who want them to look at sites that are not good for them.”
Phkay Proek, 17, Cambodia
“I come from a very remote area and older people don’t really use the internet. My parents don’t know about the internet – it’s really for my generation. They don’t know about it so they don’t worry about it. I think they should have more awareness and understanding about it.
I’ve had a foreigner contact me on Messenger recently, telling me he liked me. I didn’t know him and I was scared so I told my teacher. He told me to block him.”
Ya, 12, Thailand
It’s important parents know more about the internet. One time, my brother had some very bad comments on his social media account and he didn’t know what to do. My parents found out and they worry about what happens online because children also know little about the risks.”
Khansa, 15, Indonesia
I worry that children might be able to access pornographic sites. My parents follow me on Instagram and I think that children should show what they want to share their photos and posts with their parents. I think that adults should listen to victims of internet abuse, so that they can understand what can be done to protect them.”
Quang Minh, 15 years, and Ngoc Minh, 12, Viet Nam
Both agreed that Facebook was their favourite social media platform with nearly 300 friends between them. They like the internet because it enables them to connect with their friends and play games. Quang worried that the internet at times distracted him from his studies, while Ngoc worried about bullying. Both said that bad sites and bad people should be blocked from using the internet.
Want to learn more about staying safe? Read more here: www.unicef.org/online-safety/
*The WePROTECT Global Alliance to End Child Sexual Exploitation Online is an international movement dedicated to national and global action to end the sexual exploitation of children online.