Addressing the discussion as chief guest, post and telecommunications minister Mustafa Jabbar said, if the young generation is not safe, the country will not be safe, nor will the future. The government must do whatever is required in this regard.

He said, textbooks must include lessons on safe internet systems. But if the persons teaching the topic do not understand it, then that will be of no use. The teachers must also be well informed of the matter.

Speaking before the minister, winner of the international children’s peace prize and founder of the Cyber Teens app, young Sadat Rahman from Narail, raised certain demands.

He demanded that cyber bullying be defined and specifically included in the Digital Security Act. He also demanded safe internet for children by 2021.

The post and telecommunications minister assured Sadat of meeting his demands. He said that this matter would be taken into consideration when the Digitial Security Act would be amended. He said everyone must work unitedly to ensure safe internet by 2021. The government is prepared, he added.

40 per cent of the boys and 24 per cent of the girls taking part in the survey, were regularly victims of cyber bullying. And 19 per cent of the children received writing that was not appropriate for them. Some even exchanged photographs

Speaking on behalf of the education sector, director general of the Secondary and Higher Education Directorate, Syed Golam Faruk said that this matter must certainly be included in text books. During coronavirus times, online education had to be expanded.

Previously parents would not allow children to use such devices, but now they have no alternative. Children are at risk online. So whether it is in the textbooks or not, work must be taken up on this issue. He said they had already begun working in this regard.

Chief executive officer of Grameenphone, Yasir Azman, said that everyone must have online facilities, but every child has the right to remain protected online.

UNICEF representative Tomoo Hozumi highlighted the various risks faced by children and emphasised their need to be protected.

UNICEF Bangladesh’s child protection specialist Shabnaz Zehrin highlighted UNICEF’s survey on 1,481 students of Bangla medium, English medium and madrasa students in Bangladesh.

She said that 40 per cent of the boys and 24 per cent of the girls taking part in the survey, were regularly victims of cyber bullying. And 19 per cent of the children received writing that was not appropriate for them. Some even exchanged photographs.

The survey showed that 57 per cent of the children made friends with strangers. And 14 per cent of them even met these strangers, which was alarming. Also, 11 per cent of these children exchanged personal information. Care must be taken so that this does not increase any further, said Shabnaz Zehrin.

The survey also revealed how much knowledge the students have about internet safety. Of those taking part n the survey, 65 per cent said they are able to block various messages and 44 per cent had knowledge of settings.

Among the boys, 32 per cent said they had no supervision and their parents didn’t question them. For the girls, it was 24 per cent in this matter. And 63 per cent of the children used the internet personally in their own rooms, while 49 per cent used their parent’s phones.

Of the respondents, 37 per cent of the children had their own smartphones and used internet of these. Also, 94 per cent of the children had social media accounts, 42 per cent used the internet daily and 33 per cent used the internet to chat.

An awareness-raising video made by UNICEF was screened at the dialogue.

The virtual dialogue was moderated by Prothom Alo’s assistant editor Firoz Choudhury.

Join secretary of the ministry of women and children’s affairs (children and coordination) Md Muhibuzzaman, said that they were working on various issues beginning from children’s initial growth.

Professor of Robotics and Mechatronics, Lafifa Jamal, said she had given permission for comics to be published regarding safe use of the internet by children.

Headmaster of Dhaka’s Government Laboratory High School Md Abu Sayeed Bhuiyan, said awareness would increase if the issue of safe internet use was included in the syllabus.

Senior assistant commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police’s Cyber Security and Crime Division, Syed Nasirullah, said that online safety for security for children and adults had to be seen separately.

Take Back the Tech Bangladesh’s coordinator Mahbuba Sultana said that personal information was shared due to lack awareness.

Coordinator of the child helpline 1098, Chowdhury Mohammad Mohaimen, said this helpline was striving to provide assistance to children.

Student of Holy Cross School and College, Labonya Progya, said that steps should be taken so that students, teachers and parents, everyone would know how to use internet safely.

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