Self-isolation has driven more and more children to move online during the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to an unprecedented rise in screen time and raising safety risks for millions of young people, the UN said on Tuesday.
“School closures and strict containment measures mean more and more families are relying on technology and digital solutions to keep children learning, entertained and connected to the outside world, but not all children have the necessary knowledge, skills and resources to keep themselves safe online”, said Howard Taylor, Executive Director of the Global Partnership to End Violence against Children, a public-private collaboration between UN agencies, governments, industry, regional bodies, civil society and others.
More than 1.5 billion children and young people have been affected by school closures worldwide. Many are online now taking classes and socializing.
“Under the shadow of COVID-19, the lives of millions of children have temporarily shrunk to just their homes and their screens”, said Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Spending more time on virtual platforms can leave children vulnerable to online sexual exploitation as predators capitalize on the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We must help them navigate this new reality”, she added.