Safe Internet for every child

Every third child worldwide uses the Internet via a computer or smartphone. Almost 90% of children and adolescents are sure that they will not ever face danger and violence online.

When used wisely the Internet has a positive effect on child development and his or her communication skills. Children stay connected and share information in social networks, enjoy entertainment and study online. However, children may also encounter dangerous content or become victims of violence, exploitation or bullying.

What dangers a child can face online?

Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying or Internet bullying is often accompanied by sending threats and bullying messages via email, in social networks, in messengers (Viber, Facebook, Telegram, etc.) and on various forums.

Unlike physical or verbal humiliation in real life, cyberbullying is more difficult to recognize. The abuser can spread a message in the chat, where it will be seen by other people, and then delete it. However, the damage has already been done.

A child faces cyberbullying in the following situations:

  • Someone spreads rumors and false information about him or her (comments, videos, photos, private messages);
  • The abuser sends negative messages, insults or threats.

Despite its intangibility, cyberbullying is dangerous and can harm the child’s psychoemotional development, drop his or her self-esteem and self-confidence.


Negative, explicit and violent content

Not all content that can be found on the Internet is suitable for children and teenagers. This applies to sites as well as photos, videos, books, public groups, and even advertisements and commercials. Such content is often marked with a special rating (R, NC-21, Parental Advisory label, etc.).

A child should be protected from:

  • Excessive violence in films, videos, games;
  • Sexually explicit content;
  • Advertising of cigarettes and alcohol;
  • News and content inappropriate for a child's age (for example, terrorism).

Involving a child in sexual activities via the Internet

Sexting refers to photos, videos or messages of an intimate nature sent in chat rooms or instant messengers. Sexting is particularly dangerous for a child as the abuser may use his or her intimate images for criminal purposes (child pornography, blackmailing, harassment).


Grooming is online inducement of a child to have sex. The abuser tries to make friends with the child and encourage further communication, sometimes accompanied by financial assistance and gifts. As a result, the child begins to trust this person, feel dedication or even love. The next step of the abuser is to induce the child to have a real meeting or to engage the child in online sexual activities using a webcam.

How to make the Internet safe for children?

  • Do not forbid your child to use social networks and do not overcontrol his or her online communication. Instead, share your tips on how to stay safe online and what precautions to take.
  • Explain the importance of protecting personal information: how to create a strong password, how to change privacy settings. Tell a child what he or she can freely write about and what's better to keep private (home address, passport number, passwords, PIN codes, etc.).
  • Be aware of the latest online trends that children and teenagers follow: what are they interested in, what sites they visit, what they watch and discuss. This will help you understand the risks your child may face.
  • If you find out about some dangerous activity on the Internet (for example, a new flashmob or a challenge), talk to your child and explain your fears to him or her.
     

How can I change the situation?

  • If you come across an inappropriate site, video, image or other content, report it. Most sites offer a “Report Abuse” or “Report Inappropriate Content” function.
  • Do not distribute content that can harm other people or offend them.
  • Be careful and attentive in social networks and instant messengers: do not open or download files from unfamiliar addresses, enable two-factor authentication, change passwords every six months.
  • Do not hurt other people on the Internet, even if you're joking. What may seem funny to you, can offend the person you're chatting with.
  • Share tips on how to stay safe online with your friends and acquaintances.

5 февраля - День безопасного интернета

Спустя тридцать лет после принятия Конвенции о правах ребенка и создания интернета настало время вновь сосредоточиться на правах детей - теперь уже онлайн.

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UNICEF Belarus is a partner of MTS project "The Internet Universe" 

From September to December 2018, the National Library of Belarus hosted a free interactive exhibition for schoolchildren, where they learned how to safely use the Internet, protect themselves from cyberbullying and guard personal information against hacking and theft. Overall, more than 4,500 schoolchildren visited the exhibition. In 2019 the project will continue in the regional cities of Belarus. 

Explore the project