Hien claiming his right to safely take part in the online world
Today is World Children’s Day. At ChildFund, we want every child to be able to say: “I am safe. I contribute. I am educated. I am healthy.” This year, the theme is ‘Inclusion, for every child’ and we’re celebrating Hien a tenth-grade student, living in Vietnam.
Hien is claiming his right to safely take part in the online world through ChildFunds SwipeSafe program. With more and more children learning and socialising online than ever before, it is imperative that children and young people know how to keep themselves safe online and where to go for help should they need it.
SwipeSafe is aimed at preventing online abuse and exploitation of children. It mobilises parents, youth, schools and the private sector to play an active role in children’s online safety.
ChildFund launched a campaign to advocate for children’s safety online and developed a Children’s Advisory Council. This is an opportunity for children and young people, like Hien, to share their concerns about being online and work together to create a safer online environment for themselves and their peers.
Hien is part of this Council and took part in the ASEAN-ICT Forum about child protection online in November 2022. This was an opportunity for him to advocate for safer online practices. He took part in a session to understand online abuse and the exploitation of children in Southeast Asia where Hien and other participants were able to share their experiences in online safety.
“In terms of knowledge, I am confident in what I know, but I am quite worried about not being able to express everything I want to say in English,” said Hien. After taking part in the forums, he felt empowered with the knowledge he learned at the online safety training sessions.
To begin with, Hien was nervous to share his experiences and to know what to share with his peers. “I often care about issues that few people care about, so I don’t know if I should share them, and whether sharing about it is appropriate.” After listening to and being support by his peers, he felt more confident in sharing his opinions and felt respected.
“Some of the young panelists mentioned things I care about but did not have the courage to say. If there is another sharing session, I will talk about filtering harmful information on social networks,” said Hien.
With the skills he learned through the SwipeSafe online safety training, Hien is confident that he can protect himself and his peers be safe online and protect their various accounts. However, Hien said that he has come across malicious content when using social media and he understands that he needs to keep his accounts private and be careful about what he shares online.
“Since the internet is permanent, harmful content will always exist and it impacts young people who accidentally encounter it, so it is necessary to have the participation of moderators to remove this type of content,” said Hien.
Children and young people like Hien are the experts in sharing their online experiences. With support, they can become responsible digital citizens and can safely use the internet to socialise, learn and connect.