Protecting Children on the Internet

>>Children’s right to education, one of Vietnam’s priorities
>>Launch of a website to protect children in cyberspace
>>Fighting disinformation: Vietnam shares its experiences

Children are exposed to cyberspace on a daily basis from an early age.

Photo: VNA/CVN

A report from the Department for Children (Ministry of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs), one of the members of the Internet Child Protection and Rescue Network, shows that in the first quarter of 2022, the National Service child protection hotline 111 received more than 202,000 calls and consulted about 10,600 cases (an increase of more than 45% compared to the same period in 2021).

The Department’s statistics also show that in the first three months of the year, there were 147 child abuse cases, an increase of 30 children compared to the first quarter of 2021, including cases of violence, sexual abuse , abductions and disappearances… Nguyên Thi Nga, deputy director of the said department declared: “Cases of child abuse received by the 111 call center will be verified and connected to local authorities.”

A girl (who wishes to remain anonymous) says she is regularly harassed by strange phone numbers and that her photo was shared in a closed group on the Telegram platform. Consequently, “I received countless messages with requests for more photos, many fabricated messages, obscene and shocking comments. At first I thought that deleting the photos would stop everything, but the reality is that these things do not stop no, I get harassed all the time and my life is completely turned upside down”she says.

This is just one case among many of girls posting photos on social networks (Facebook, Instagram…) that have been stolen by “anonymous” people and then posted on closed groups, or sites indecent web. Many victims are then arrested, harassed, even abused. Indeed, many are those who do not know that by providing too much information on the Internet, personal images on social networks can lead to negative or even dangerous consequences for oneself.

Cyber ​​security expert Ngô Viêt Khôi said: “The more you use social networks, the more information about your preferences becomes clearer. This habit creates a large database of each individual. This is information that the operators of social networks collect every day, every hour. This data is then analyzed, processed and judged by artificial intelligence technology.”

How to report abuse

1654836727 511 Protecting Children on the Internet

Dà Nang launched last April a website and a mobile application for the protection of children in this central city.

Photo: VNA/CVN

Over the past few years, Plan International in Vietnam (one of the members of the Child Internet Protection and Response Network) has regularly received complaints about the insecurity of information on the Internet. Among these cases is the case of a girl whose photos were not only “stolen” and uploaded in closed groups, but whose phone number was also released.

The Child Internet Protection and Response Network recently launched the website, with many features that help keep kids safe online. The Department of Information Security (Ministry of Information and Communication) – the coordinating agency of the said Network -, tested the “Tools” and “Report Abuse” functionalities. With the “Tools” function, users only need to enter the website link and then submit a request, so they can check if the website is safe for children.

With respect to the “Report Abuse” feature, if there is any case of child abuse, or acts of violence, harassment, fraud, bad website links, malicious groups or bullying…then anyone (including children) can also submit a report. With the application of the red telephone line of the number 111, will also be one of the safe addresses, providing useful tools and software to help children participate in healthy interactions on the Internet.

In the two years affected by the COVID-19 epidemic, the number of children in Vietnam with Internet-connected devices (such as computers, smartphones, iPads, etc.) has increased by more than 66%. And many parents worry when their children join the Internet. They cannot know exactly what their offspring are doing within this cyberspace. Therefore, in addition to protective tools, parents should also always accompany their children on the Internet.

As parents, it’s natural to want to protect their children, but many don’t know how to do it properly. Cyber ​​security experts’ solution is to equip young children with the necessary skills and enough information so that they can identify the risks and fight back on their own.

A more secure and sustainable security network

MSD Sustainable Development Management Research Institute Director Nguyên Phuong Linh said: “Education is seen as key to bringing some sort of ‘digital vaccine’ to this generation. These ‘digital skills’ are based on a number of ‘S’s. The first is Safe, which means safe; the second is Smart, wisdom and intelligence when using social media; the third is Super with the childish idea of ​​being like a superhero, not only protecting yourself, but also having the ability to support and protect others on the internet. This may be a bit high expectation for the younger generation, but it will help build a more secure and sustainable security network.”

If digital skills are disseminated to all children and teachers, children will also have the opportunity to have access to digital technologies to create “resistors”, and face these challenges and risks encountered on the web. Based on this, Vietnam must have national training programs for qualified teachers to guide children but also help parents to accompany their children in online activities.

Currently, Vietnam has a national child protection standard. But with always new problems arising on the Internet, it is necessary to have more specialized units in the matter. Internet use is a child’s right, so it is necessary to equip them with knowledge and experience so that they can exploit this right in a reasonable, safe, legal and fair way.

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Protecting Children on the Internet

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