A new study conducted by World Economic Forum has revealed that children aged between 8-12 are more prone to cyber threats like online bullying and video game addiction. As per the study, children who live in emerging economies like South Africa are comparatively more vulnerable to online threats as internet adoption in these countries is more rapid, and is less subject to parents of these kids or government authorities.
"Fifty-six percent of 8-12-year-olds are exposed to at least one online-related challenge when using digital platforms. Challenges include a host of threats, from cyberbullying, video game addiction, offline meetings and online sexual behaviours to digital identity theft which has also been linked to digital disinformation and reduced human empathy," wrote World Economic Forum in their website.
The study was conducted by the World Economic Forum in association with DQ Institute. During the study, researchers analyzed the internet browsing traits of 38,000 children across 29 countries. After the initial analysis, the researchers found that these children spent an average of 32 hours per week in front of digital screens for entertainment. Interestingly, this average time is more than the duration they spent in schools each week.
The major purpose of the study was to create awareness and an action plan in the minds of parents and government authorities to counter the threats faced by young digital citizens.
"Today's youth make up an important part of our informed society; they will be tomorrow's voters and our future leaders. Ensuring they are better equipped to face the challenges of hyperconnected life, earlier on, should be a societal priority," said Cheryl Martin, head of the Centre for Global Industries at the World Economic Forum.
Yuhyun Park, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the DQ Institute, Singapore said that authorities and parents should take effective steps to help children facing cyberbullying all around the world. According to Park, the time spent by children on social media sites in their young age is very much excessive. He also made it clear that effective plans should be implemented to help the children outsmart cyber-risks and become successful and responsible digital citizens.