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Maldives marks ‘Safer Internet Day 2020’

Rae Munavvar
11 February 2020, MVT 20:11
Some students of Dharumavantha School holding tablets. PHOTO/MIHAARU
Rae Munavvar
11 February 2020, MVT 20:11

The Ministry of Communication, Science and Technology, in addition to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Maldives, released separate statements on Tuesday to mark the occasion of the Safer Internet Day 2020.

This year the Safer Internet Day (SID) hopes to establish ‘a better internet for all’ with a particular focus on ending cyber bullying.

UNICEF declared that, this year the organisation will “continue supporting young people in the movement to #ENDviolence in and around schools, including online".

Despite being a small island nation, perhaps owing to its heavily dispersed geography, Maldives has a very high number of internet users. Statistics indicate that over 83 percent of Maldivians regularly access the internet. It is therefore safe to assume that the amount of young people at risk to the many dangers posed online, is substantially high as well.

Citing the increased rates of online child sexual abuse, as well as incidences of online bullying, UNICEF in Maldives emphasised on the importance of “engaging children and parents to ensure the internet is a safe place for all children.”

The press statement released by Mohamed Maleeh Jamaal, the Minister of Communications, Science and Technology, asserts that although the advent of the internet has eased millions of lives around the world in numerous ways as it is a series of networks that connects several different interfaces, it is vital that people take the responsibility that comes with it seriously.

“People are advised to avoid any interactions that may compromise their privacy or repute”, read the statement.

“Parents need to be the most vigilant of all. When giving children access to the internet for learning purposes or educational research, it is important to utilise parental controls. Parents must monitor child access, using child-safe applications to ensure that the content is appropriate for viewing."

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Even when using mainstream applications like Youtube, it is necessary to take advantage of options such as Youtube for Kids to further safeguard young children”, it concluded.

Globally, as many as 1 in 3 young people have experienced some form of cyber bullying, revealed a U-Report poll conducted among a pool of 170,000 participants across 30 countries. Further, over 70 percent expressed their belief that the majority of such bullying took place on social media platforms.

Moreover, 1 in 5 were found to have stopped going to school due to the bullying.

The data also suggests that while girls are more prone to being victims of cyberbullying, the likelihood of it occurring increases with age.

UNICEF also affirmed that cyberbullying can have “devastating consequences” rooting profound harm that may be caused to all involved by a permanent digital footprint, to an increased likelihood of substance abuse and deviancy.

Because the internet allows bullying to take places anywhere at any time, victims can find themselves stuck in a perpetual state of anxiety. This in turn may add to low self-steem, poor grades, and in some cases, suicidal tendencies.

In 7 European countries, the proportion of children and adolescents aged 11-16 years exposed to cyberbullying increased by approximately 6 percent between 2010 to 2014. According to UNICEF, about 70 percent of the global youth population was online in 2017; a 36 percent increase compared 2011.

Initiated by EU SafeBorders in 2004, the Safer Internet Day promotes safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile phones. Over a decade later, SID is presently celebrated in approximately 150 countries worldwide.

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