Protecting children online

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

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

Photo: VNA / CVN

A report by the Department of Children (Department of Labor, War Disabled and Social Affairs), a member of the Save and Save Child Online Network, shows that in the first quarter of 2022, National Child Protection 111 Switchboard received more than 202 thousand calls and consulted about 10,600 cases (an increase 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 cases of child abuse, an increase of 30 children compared to the first quarter of 2021, including cases of violence, sexual abuse, kidnapping and disappearance… Nguyen Thi Nga, Deputy Director of the aforementioned department stated : Child abuse cases received by the 111 call center will be verified and linked to local authorities.

A girl (who wishes to remain anonymous) says that she is regularly harassed by strange phone numbers and that her photo was shared in a closed group on the Telegram platform. Subsequently, “I received countless messages asking for more pictures, many fake messages, obscene and shocking comments. At first I thought deleting the pictures would stop everything, but the truth is that these things don’t stop, I’m being harassed all the time and my life has been turned upside down”as you say.

This is just one case among many girls who post photos on social networks (Facebook, Instagram …) that were stolen by “unknown” people and then posted on closed groups or inappropriate websites. Many victims are then arrested, harassed and even mistreated. In fact, there are many who do not know that by providing a lot of information on the Internet, personal photos 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 clear information about your preferences becomes. This habit creates a large database for each individual. This is the information that social network operators collect every day, every hour. This data is then analyzed, processed and judged by artificial intelligence technology “.

How to report abuse

Last April, Dà Nang launched a website and mobile app to protect children in this central city.

Photo: VNA / CVN

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

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

Regarding the Report Abuse feature, if there is any instance of child abuse, violence, harassment, fraud, bad website links, malicious groups, or bullying… anyone (including children) can submit a report . With the Red Line 111 application, vn-cop.vn will also be one of the safe addresses, providing useful tools and software to help children participate in healthy online interactions.

In the two years affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, the number of children in Vietnam with internet-connected devices (such as computers, smartphones, iPads, etc.) increased by more than 66%. 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 protection tools, parents should also always accompany their children on the Internet.

As parents, it is normal for them to want to protect their children, but many do not know how to do it properly. The solution offered by cyber security experts is to provide young children with the necessary skills and information so that they can identify and combat risks on their own.

A safer and more sustainable safety net

MSD Institute for Sustainable Development Management Research Director Nguyên Phuong Linh said: “Education is seen as a key to bringing a kind of ‘digital vaccine’ to this generation. These ‘digital skills’ are based on a number of ‘personal skills’. The first is ‘safe’, meaning security; the second is ‘smart, wise and intelligent’ when using Social media;The third is the childish idea of ​​being like a superhero, not only protecting yourself, but also having the ability to support and protect others online.This might be a bit of a high expectation for the younger generation, but it will help build a more safety net Safe and sustainable.”

If digital skills are disseminated to all children and educators, children will also have access to digital technologies for creativity resistorsand facing these challenges and risks that are faced on the web. Accordingly, Vietnam should have national training programs for qualified teachers to guide children but also help parents accompany their children in online activities.

Currently, Vietnam has a national child protection standard. But with new problems always emerging on the Internet, more specialized units are necessary for this. Using the Internet is a right of children, so it is necessary to provide them with knowledge and experience so that they can exploit this right in a reasonable, safe, legal and fair manner.

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