Thursday, February 20, 2014

Indonesia launches Study on Digital Safety


"Children may be exposed to similar risks like in the physical world when they are surfing the internet, such as violence and abuse, including sexual exploitation, and trafficking." says UNICEF Indonesia Representative Angela Kearney.
© UNICEFIndonesia/2014/Klavert

As Indonesia experiences a rapid increase in the number of children and young people accessing the internet through mobile devices, the Government in Jakarta is collaborating with UNICEF to ensure that children can make best use of the internet while at the same minimizing the protection risks they may encounter during their online journey.

A key step in this process has been the conclusion of a study on “Digital Citizenship and Safety among Children and Adolescents in Indonesia”, whose results UNICEF and the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology launched on 18 February in Jakarta.  The study was commissioned by UNICEF as part of its multi-country project on Digital Citizenship and Safety. It covers the age group 10 to 19 years, a huge population of 43.5 million children and adolescents.

“Children have a right to information and to express their views and concerns, and the internet provides them with enormous opportunities to realize these rights. It is no longer possible to cut a clear line between online and offline realities, which means that children may be exposed to similar risks like in the physical world when they are surfing the internet, such as violence and abuse, including sexual exploitation, and trafficking. We need to find the right balance between the chances and the risks in the digital world,” said UNICEF Representative Angela Kearney during the launch of the study.

With the support from Berkman Center for Internet and Society of Harvard University, the Study was the first of its kind in Indonesia to gather information on how children and adolescents access the internet and on possible safety risks they may be facing. The study also looked into why some children are not able to use the Internet.

According to the findings, most of the respondents (80%) use the internet to look for data and information, particularly for school assignments, or to meet friends online (70%) through social media platforms. Another large group clicks through to music (65%) or video (39%) sites.

The study reveals a significant digital divide between different regions of the country. While in Jakarta and in the Yogyakarta Special Region, almost all respondents are internet-users, the percentage drops down to less than a third in North Maluku and West Papua. The majority of non-users has no access to a computer, lives in an area without internet services or cannot afford the costs associated with going online.

UNICEF Indonesia Representative Angela Kearney (right) handing over the Digital Safety Study report to Minister of Women Empowerment and Child Protection Linda Gumelar (second from right) and Minister of Communication and Information Technology Tifatul Sembiring (second from left). 

“Advances in information and communication technology should be utilized for the welfare of the community. Technology is a tool to support an intelligent and advanced nation. The Internet can provide great benefits for education, research, commerce, and other aspects of life. We should encourage children and adolescents to use the Internet as an important tool for education, increasing knowledge, opportunities and a better quality of life,” said Tifatul Sembiring, Minister of Communication and Information Technology.

The Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection as well as other Ministries, representatives of NGOs and children’s organizations joined the event and the discussion about next steps.

“Young people can use the internet to connect with young people globally, learn new things, especially about culture and other positive things,” the Minister of Women Empowerment and Child Protection, Linda Gumelar, said. She also referred to significant protections risks, including cyberbullying, trafficking and exposure to violent online games.

Prof. Gati Gayatri, the Head of Research and Development at the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, who coordinated the study, highlighted that only 42 per cent of respondents were aware of the risk to become a victim of cyberbullying, while a shocking 13 per cent of those had experienced such online harassment at least once themselves. “This translates into thousands of children,” she said. “Children need to be empowered to protect themselves from any harm.”

Following the launch, UNICEF and partners, including the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), child rights experts, as well as policy makers discussed how to use the new data to strengthen existing policies and raise awareness among children and young people about potential risks.

The Ministries of Communication and Information Technology and of Women Empowerment and Child Protection agreed to join forces with other Ministries and with UNICEF to use data from the study for a National Plan of Action on Safe Media. The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology will also lead on a public awareness campaign.

More information on the study is available on the press release.

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