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Strengthening tools to protect children in cyberspace

The strong development of the Internet and social networks has made children become digital citizens early, which brings many benefits in the service of learning, entertainment, and enhanced social interaction.


Children benefit from participating in an online environment but face many risks at the same time. (Photo: Viettimes)



However, it also causes many challenges in protecting children due to the potential risks and unhealthy influences in cyberspace.

The strong development of the Internet in recent years has brought positive effects as Vietnamese children have gradually been able to access and integrate with the rapidly developing Internet platform. Children have the opportunity to learn, be entertained, and enhance their social interactions on the Internet.

However, research results from Vietnam and around the world have pointed out many negative impacts. Moreover, in the network environment, many risks may cause serious consequences to children.

Reports from agencies and organizations attending at a conference of the Supervisory Team about “The implementation of policies and laws on child abuse prevention” of the National Assembly held in January 2020 show that Vietnam is among the top countries with the highest number of Internet users in the world, with 64 million users, accounting for 66% of the population. Of the figure, one-third are minors and young people aged 15 to 24. Every day, more than 720,000 images of abusing children are uploaded online, in which violence and sexual abuse content are the majority.

According to some surveys, 1 out of 4 children said that they had experienced pain and sadness when using social networks, while one-third of them said they had been victims of cyberbullying and the number of girls bullied was three times higher than the number of boys. Meanwhile, according to UNICEF's survey of children and adolescents in Vietnam, one in five children said they had been a victim of cyberbullying on the Internet.

Never before has the approach and abuse of children in the online environment with many sophisticated tricks become as alarming as it is now. Through the network field environment, children are at risk of abuse such as images of children being abused and exploited are recorded, filmed, taken and distributed on the internet. They have exposure to violent content, sensitive content, incitement to suicide, and other negative behavior.

According to experts, child abuse in cyberspace has more considerable consequences than social abuse because when the abuse cases happen in real life, only a few people witness. However, when these images are uploaded online, they may stick with the children for the rest of their lives.

Finding measures to protect and ensure that children are safe in the online environment is of extreme interest to the Government, relevant agencies and parents.

Tools to protect kids


Illustrative image

To protect children against risks in the online environment, there have been many legal documents with specific provisions such as the Law on Children 2016, the Law on Access to Information 2016, and the Law on Cybersecurity 2018.

In addition, the Ministry of Information and Communications has issued Circular No. 09/2017 stipulating the percentage of content, time, duration for children, and warning of inappropriate content for children on radio and television stations, e-newspapers and publications.

In 2019, Vietnam signed the Declaration on the Protection of Children from All Forms of Online Exploitation and Abuse in ASEAN. In December 2019, Vietnam launched the National Call Center App to protect children (111).

In March 2020, in an attempt to further improve the act of providing protection to children in the online environment, the Department of Children's Affairs under the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs cooperated with the Department of Information Security of the Ministry of Information and Communications to develop plans to prevent child abuse in the online environment.

This is the first time in Vietnam that there has been close cooperation between the State management agency in charge of cybersecurity and the State management agency in charge of ensuring children's rights. According to the plan, involved units will focus on surveying and assessing the impact of the Internet on children, as well as developing a set of criteria for child protection in the Internet environment.

Last November, at the 10th session of the 14th National Assembly, Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Manh Hung answered a question about the promulgation of the Code of Conduct in cyberspace and the integration of the act of protecting children in the online environment into this Code.

Accordingly, the Ministry of Information and Communications has paid attention to integrating child protection in the online environment into the Code of Conduct. Specifically, the content of the Code of Conduct recommends that users and network service providers must comply with Vietnamese law and respect the legitimate rights, interests of organizations and individuals, including children's rights, requiring social network users and network service providers to educate children and adolescents in safe and healthy use of social networks.

In addition, the Ministry of Information and Communications was assigned by the Prime Minister to assume the prime responsibility for developing a project to protect and support children to interact with healthy creativity in the online environment from 2020 to 2025. The scheme offers essential solutions such as creating one focal point to receive reports of child abuse content; and applying artificial intelligence, and analyzing big data to proactively remove children abuse content on the internet.

The Ministry of Information and Communications will also equip children with a basic set of digital skills, such as educating children on the awareness of the content of the online environment and the knowledge they need to identify risks and protect themselves.

With the determination to repel risks to children in cyberspace with the active participation of all levels and sectors, the combination of the power of advanced technology with knowledge and experience about child protection is hoped to create a new step that will help protect Vietnamese children, minimizing negative impacts from the cyber environment.

Trong Dat

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