Our children, unprotected online

2023-10-17 12:12:00Dhoma e rrëfimit SHKRUAR NGA REDAKSIA VOX
Children on the Internet

Entela Resuli

A recent report by UNICEF Albania estimates that 51 percent of children in Albania use the Internet massively.

Worldwide, more than 175,000 children go online every day for the first time, one new child every second, UNICEF says. In addition to the benefits, digital access exposes these children to a number of risks, including harmful content, sexual exploitation and abuse, cyberbullying, and the misuse of their personal data. Even Albania is no exception to other countries.

In Albania, there is a lack of a legal framework to protect children from the dangers of the Internet, which are not provided for in the Criminal Code nor in the Law on the Protection of Children's Rights, which has led to the exposure of children to pedophiles, who more and more are using the Internet to identify child victims of violence and sexual exploitation.

According to data from UNICEF, worldwide, 1 in 3 Internet users is a child. UNICEF emphasizes that the obligation to protect children in the digital world lies with everyone, including governments, families, schools and other institutions, especially the private sector that provides Internet and telecommunications services.

Internet dangers, Psychological abuse, Sexual abuse, Bullying, Pornography, Pedophilia, Chat rooms, Online games, Dating in social networks.


Report, 51% of children have online access when they want

The United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF Albania, in a recent report, states that the average age of children in the world who have access to the Internet for the first time is 9 years old, while 37% of Albanian respondents affirm that they have used the Internet from the age of 8 or earlier. According to published data, a child stays online 3 hours a day and has access whenever he wants.

At the same time, there are many cases showing that children are accessing the Internet at younger and younger ages. In Albania, the number of active Internet users increased to 2 million in 2017, which is 18% higher compared to 2016. This digital device exposes children to a large number of benefits and opportunities, but also a multitude of risks and damages, for harmful content, sexual abuse and exploitation, cyberbullying and misuse of private information. UNICEF emphasizes that obligations to protect children online must be discussed with governments, families and communities.

On the other hand, the private sector, especially the technology and telecommunications industries, must fulfill their responsibility to create a safer digital world for children. In a study from 4 years ago, by World Vision on the safety of children on the Internet in Albania, with about 1000 children aged 13-18 years, 85% of respondents have a computer at home, but 65% usually access the Internet via mobile phone.

Negative effects on children

In recent decades, technology has completely changed every aspect of our society, from the way we work to the way we socialize and live.

One of the most important differences is the difference in how children play, grow and develop, and how they interact with previous generations. Although technology provides many positive benefits for learning, it can also have some negative effects on children's development and quality of life.

One of the biggest differences in the way children live today is insufficient physical activity. In 2012, the child underweight rate was 18 percent, an 11-point difference from the obesity rate in 1980.

Time outdoors has a number of positive effects on your body – it gives you exposure to sunlight, which supplies your body with vitamin D. This helps fight infection and heals the skin.

In addition, regular exposure to sunlight helps in a regular sleep cycle by influencing the production of melatonin in the body. Recent research has shown that screens from devices such as tablets and smartphones emit harmful blue light that can cause headaches, tension and eye irritation in children.

Technology also has a profound impact on how children think and feel. Because technology is full of stimuli and often requires attention to a variety of different things at once, children who play a lot of video games or spend most of their time online have less opportunity to focus than children who use the most at least the technology.

It can also affect the way children process information – when children are exposed to a high level of technology, they tend to think things through only superficially and do not develop the ability to think critically or be creative when learning new concepts .

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently published guidelines on how technology affects children, especially in their early years of development. They recommend that children aged 2-5 should spend up to one hour of electronics each day. Parents should also monitor what their children are watching while they are online. Healthy development in childhood and adolescence involves four factors for success. Movement, touch, human connection and connection with nature are all important factors for developing children.

*'Confession Room' exclusive column of Vox News.


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