The ITU has collaborated with SWGfL as part of the UK Safer Internet Centre, as well as other leading organisations to launch POP (Protection through online participation), a project that endeavours to map out how children and young people use the internet for support. This includes how they access helplines and other supportive services to stay safe throughout their online and offline lives. The project is looking to also see how effective these systems are and will look ahead to produce ‘recommendations’ from the findings.
ITU had found that across a global scale ‘71% of the world’s youth are using the internet’ which was found to be significantly higher compared to other age groups (57%). It was recognized that children and young people were finding a wide scale of opportunities from the internet towards how they express themselves, communicate and exercise their rights that also extended towards needing protection and support from helplines and other services.
David Wright, Director of UK Safer Internet Centre at SWGfL says
Technology has progressed so quickly, offering children unprecedented and unimaginable opportunities. But… so have the issues and potential harms.
Child Helpline international found that there was a 25% increase from 2019-2020 in the amount of children contacting helplines. As well as this, children were supporting their own mental wellbeing as well as others through their own ‘innovative online solutions’. The POP project aims to understand how the internet is being used to support this safety for children.
The project was launched on Safer Internet Day; you can find out more about the announcement here. Collaborating as well on the project is Global Kids Online, Child Helpline International, the Office of the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence Against Children, IBM Z, the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, ITU and UNICEF.