5.5 Promoting child online protection and responsible online behavior

While much attention is paid to expanding connectivity and access to online resources in educational settings, increased access to the Internet also brings risks, especially for young users. Policies and plans to connect students to the Internet also need to consider measures to protect children from malicious actors and inappropriate content. Children need to be taught responsible online behaviour.

The ITU’s Child Online Protection (COP) initiative is working to address the relevant legal, technical, organizational, and procedural issues, and also to encourage capacity-building and international cooperation.206

Policymakers and educators need to strike a balance between implementing measures to simply block access to dangerous or sensitive materials or communities, and providing an online environment in which students can learn and exercise good judgment regarding safe and responsible computing. Educational institutions continue to implement and refine Internet filtering software, even though such measures can stir controversy regarding censorship. Moreover, filtering guidelines can be subjective or ineffective.

The ideal solution may be a combination of filtering the most objectionable or unsafe material and instructing educators and students on basic concepts of responsible computing. This is particularly relevant given that students will not always be accessing the Internet behind school firewalls. A solid foundation of safe computing behaviour will allow students to apply the principles to new and evolving online environments.

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