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Telenor Calls for Action to Make Internet Safer for 100 Million Online Children

Telenor Group unveils the results of its Boston Consulting Group (BCG)-commissioned study on reducing the harmful effects of online and mobile services for youth. In this study, Telenor addresses the rapid expansion of online services among youth, acknowledges the risks resulting from increased access, and calls for all stakeholders to work together to find solutions.

176 million children online in 2017

BCG calculates that a total of 176 million children will be online by 2017 in Telenor’s 11 markets plus Russia, and the majority of these children will be using a mobile device as their first point of access. Children today are “digital natives”, as they take for granted the presence of technology in their lives. They increasingly use the Internet as a tool for communication, education, entertainment and self-expression, new opportunity and skills in their daily lives. Along with the benefits, the Internet may also expose children to harmful content, harassment or other situations in which they become victims.

Building resilience

“We see that the benefits of the Internet far outweigh the harm that can result, but we cannot afford to be complacent. We commissioned this study in an effort to increase transparency about risks to youth that result from increased access, while simultaneously analyzing the best ways to deal with this from a telecom perspective. Our conclusion is that resilience building is the most effective means to prepare youth to face the online world,” said Jon Fredrik Baksaas, President and CEO, Telenor Group.

Key findings from study

  • Increase of 100 million online children by 2017 (in Telenor’s 11 markets plus Russia); 85 million of these will use a mobile device as their first access point.
  • More than 14 million children (in 12 markets) may potentially be exposed to harmful online content and as many as 35 million (in 12 markets) children may have experienced some form of cyber bullying.
  • Telenor markets exposed to greatest online risks also have greatest resilience: Norway, Sweden and Denmark.
  • Telenor markets least exposed to online risks also have least resilience: Bangladesh and Pakistan.

“In this study, we have defined resilience as a child’s ability to be exposed to risk without harm, and to cope and recover faster if harm occurs. Factors such as education levels, online experience over time and a country’s institutional strength in protecting its citizens all contribute to the resilience of an individual. While the legal framework in the country is an important starting point, the study concludes that more is required in order to reduce risk, and, in particular, increase resilience among youth,” said Knut Haanæs, the Global Leader of BCG’s Strategy Practice.

Multi-stakeholder action required

The study concludes that addressing issues such as cyber bullying and exposure to harmful content on the web requires multi-stakeholder action.

“We need the parents, the educators, the civil servants, as well as the service providers to work together to help reduce risks and build resilience in our youth,” said Baksaas. “We see the telco as a significant contributor to reducing harm, and Telenor intends to take a strong position, invite broad cooperation and contribute to the development of mitigating actions to reduce online risks for youth in all our markets.”

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