The mobile Internet in developing economies - child safety dimensions

18 November 2009 - A Workshop on Security in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt


“Young people no longer talk to each other. They walk side by side instant messaging each other” - C K Prahalad, Author of The Bottom of the Pyramid at a TiE Annual Meeting in Delhi. 

Worldwide, the development of Information and Communication Technologies have caused civilization to progress during the last twenty five years at a pace accelerated several fold. It initially required fixed and relatively static equipment such as computers and wired modems to access the Internet. But in the last ten years, wireless technologies and mobile device designs have progressed swiftly to enable mobile access through hand-held devices and mobile phones. The younger generation is growing up as a wired generation with Internet held in their hands. Internet has in store and in flow, invaluable resources and tools for learning so it becomes important for schools and parents to enable Internet access for Children. Time spent by children online can be very productive and Children can learn in easy and innovative ways, for example, by using tools available for collaborative learning. At the same time, Providing support and supervision for younger users has become far more challenging than ever before in the age of mobile access. It requires an essential orientation for Children for guided exposure to the valuable resources available so as to get them to to focus on the productive resources. What lessons can be learned from approaches developed in different parts of the world? The Council of Europe is balanced in it resolution on Child Safety with attention to the positive benefits of Internet for children as expressed in its resolution
Among its proposals for Child Safety is a suggestion to encourage "creating safe and secure websites for children" and for "considering the integration of the benefits of these safe and secure Internet websites in school curricula",
Issues differ from region to region. The online issues specific to Children in Europe or America aren't the same as the most pressing issues in other parts of this world. In several countries including India, there are some negative ideas about Internet among parents and teachers, which need to be disspelt. So it becomes necessary to get parents and teachers receptive to the idea of connecting children to the Internet first and then talk about safety aspects.
As Internet is becoming a part of every day life, especially for our Children, it becomes important for Children to be aware that there are good and bad 'places' and good and bad people just as there are good and bad locations in our physical neighborhood and good and bad people in real life. There are reported instances of commercial exploitation of children and there are known corners of unsafe 'places' with abusive content, presence of anonymous
imposters involving criminals instances of child safety issues. What are the risks and how can they best be addressed without allowing the issues to be
exaggerated or causing disproportionate alarm to justify tighter controls, censorship and ubiquitous security? The issues are real, but need to be approached cautiously. The workshop would examine International best practices in this area, formulate child protection strategies for Governments to adopt and explore policy options and infrastructure improvements One of the major emphasis of the workshop would be to focus on developing proportionate mechanisms and an effective framework that can be developed by bringing in a balanced strategy for today's Children for whom Internet is an invaluable boon for learning. 

Panel Speakers:
Moderator: Oliver MJ Olivier Crepin-Leblond, France Invited, confirmation expected with in a day.

1) Anjan Bose, ECPAT International,
2) Ms Gitte Staldt, IT University of Copenhagen,
3) Jon Soinnen of Nokia (Finland),
4) Ruben Rodriguez of INHOPE (Ireland / USA)
5) Rudi Vansnick (Belgium)