Majority of 8-12-Year Olds Subject to Online Threats


Fifty-six per cent of 8-12 year olds are exposed to at least one online-related challenge when using digital platforms, a new survey published today finds. Challenges include a host of threats, from cyberbullying, video game addiction, offline meetings and online sexual behaviours to digital identity theft which has also been linked to digital disinformation and reduced human empathy. The data also highlights that 47% of those studied have been victimized through cyber-bullying in the past year.

The report is a multi-nation study of online child safety and digital citizenship, based on a sample size of 34,000 schoolchildren aged between eight and 12 years, across 29 countries. While 56% represents a global average, threats to children are more widespread in emerging economies where the risks are 33% higher. This is in large part due to the fast adoption of mobile technology and digital platform use without adequate and appropriate preparation for children.

Additional results concluded that 8-12-year olds spend an average of 32 hours per week in front of digital screens for entertainment alone – longer than the time children spend in school. The study also confirmed a positive association between screen time and exposure to cyberbullying, video game addiction, offline meetings and online sexual behaviours.

The purpose of the report is to highlight the need for concerted action by government, industry and civil society to help parents counter the threats facing the youngest “digital citizens”. Such a need is especially acute, the report finds, given the rapid increase in internet penetration in emerging economies, which will account for 90% of all new child “surfers” between now and 2020.

The 2018 DQ Impact Report is published by the DQ Institute, a multistakeholder coalition committed to improving digital education, culture and innovation through cross-sector collaboration in association with the World Economic Forum. Since partnering with the World Economic Forum in 2017, it has reached over 600,000 children in 15 languages across more than 30 countries, including Australia, China, Egypt, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Oman, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, the UK and the US.

“Today’s youth make up an important part of our informed society; they will be tomorrow’s voters and our future leaders. Ensuring they are better equipped to face the challenges of hyperconnected life, earlier on, should be a societal priority. The Forum believes that it has an effective platform to augment and accelerate concrete action towards a more sustainable flow of information and content that empowers society,” said Cheryl Martin, Managing Director, Head of Industries and Member of the Managing Board at the World Economic Forum

“We must act quickly and take positive steps to help these children facing cyber-risks around the world, especially in ICT-emerging countries. From an early age, our children’s use of social media through personal mobile phones has been excessive. We need to work together to help our children outsmart cyber-risks and become successful and responsible digital citizens who maximize their potential and minimize cyber-risks.” said Yuhyun Park, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the DQ Institute, Singapore.

“We need to set the global standard for online child protection and digital citizenship for all children. This goal is only possible through the shared vision and passion of so many people, all working together with one heart and mind to help children have future-ready DQ skills to navigate the digital world,” said Esteban Bullrich, Senator, National Congress of Argentina.


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