With 175,000 children going online for the first time every day, the limits of children’s experiences are no longer bound by their bedroom doors, classroom walls, or borders of their nation. The same can be said for the rest of the world – including those seeking to harm children.
On Safer Internet Day, the End Violence Partnership is joining the global community to encourage a safer, better Internet for children. Though the Internet holds boundless possibilities, it contains equally boundless risk. At this moment, for example, an estimated 750,000 individuals are looking to connect with children online for sexual purposes.
To combat this issue, solutions are emerging from across sectors, including business, civil society and government. Just last month, Microsoft released a new tool – Project Artemis – that can scan text chats to identify adults attempting to groom and sexually exploit children on digital platforms. LiveMe, a global live-streaming platform and End Violence member, is operating a Safety Advocate programme that trains users to flag and remove explicit or harmful content. And late last year, End Violence launched a new call for funding to combat online child sexual exploitation through the power of digital technology, its fourth funding round to address the issue.
Even so, no single organization or individual can make the Internet safe. Safer Internet Day provides an opportunity for us to demand more for children, and to re-formulate our digital spaces to include safety by design. Check out our Safe Online page to access resources and learn more, and engage with us on social media by using our user-friendly Safer Internet Day social media kit.
This will require technology companies to think of children’s safety first, not as an afterthought. It will require every child and every caregiver to better understand the risks inherent online. It will require difficult conversations: we need to think about children’s safety when we talk about privacy and encryption. And, it will require investment in the solutions that are working to flag, find and take down images and videos of child sexual abuse material, among much more.
Universal Internet access is predicted by, at the very latest, 2050. That expansion will bring about unprecedented opportunities and incredible connections, leading to the development of communities across the globe. However, to truly harness the benefits of the Internet, we need to protect its most avid and also its most vulnerable users: children.