Photo - Sigve Brekke, Executive Vice-President and Head of Telenor's Asian operations, and Chairman of DiGi.
As Malaysia's Education Blueprint aimed to provide full internet access for 10,000 schools nationwide by the end of 2013, Malaysian telecom DiGi, a part of the Telenor Group, has repeated its call for the online safety of children.
Telenor Group's head of Asia operations and DiGi chairman, Sigve Brekke said about 500 million children in emerging Asian markets will be accessing the internet via mobile in the next 10 years.
Within the next three years, this 'vulnerable demographic' will see 85 million children with online access, which includes Malaysian school children, said Brekke during Global Safer Internet Day
He said in a recent survey in Malaysia, the views of almost 10,000 school children from 460 schools nationwide as part of DiGi CyberSAFE in Schools workshops last year revealed that about 68 percent of school children have access to the internet at home.
Brekke said that of this, a significant number of them spend an average of eight hours a week on the internet and 68 percent used it primarily for social networking.
More than half claimed that they were first introduced to the internet by their family members, he said. Statistics also revealed that 27 percent of students have been bullied online while 13 percent of students said they are still being bullied online today. The survey also recorded 49 percent of students saying they know of someone who has been bullied online.
DiGi's CyberSAFE in Schools - a public-private partnership launched three years ago in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, CyberSecurity Malaysia and the national regulator Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission - has reached out to 22,000 students, teachers and parents from more than 700 schools and 14 rural internet centres nationwide through interactive workshops to step up education on cyber safety.
Mobile is for everyone
"Telenor came to Asia two decades ago with a fundamental belief that mobile is for everyone," said Brekke. "Now, the mass market is moving towards mobile internet and we are determined to bring Internet for All."
"Mobile and data connectivity brings tremendous opportunities to people, business and societies, especially for youth who can connect, learn and avail services unimaginable only a few years back," he said.
However, these opportunities come with some risks, said Brekke, citing data from the Boston Consulting Group on internet use among children shows that "eight percent may have unknowingly subscribed to commercial services, one in 10 have potentially been subject to personal data misuse, one in five potentially exposed to harmful content, and half of underage users may have been exposed to cyber bullying."
"As we connect Asia, it's important that we do so safely and responsibly. Particularly for first-time users and children," said Telenor director of corporate responsibility, Ola Jo Tandre.
Tandre said the Group has long experience in educating children about the Internet from successful outreach programmes in Norway, Malaysia, Serbia, Sweden and Montenegro.
Telenor Group was the first mobile provider in the world to collaborate with Interpol to create a mobile Internet filter for child sexual abuse content, said Tandre. "The Group has filters in place in all but one of its European business units, and in Bangladesh and Pakistan. The rest of the business units in Asia are currently developing programmes to follow through in the coming months."
"A pillar of our Internet of All movement is that every one of our new users be equipped not just with the access to the internet, but with the right support system to be able to navigate this new world safely," said Tandre.
"We've committed to bringing Internet for All to Asia, and the positive trends in data demand and consumer access show that the ICT industry and the corresponding regulatory agencies are working together well with consumers and constituents. Every additional user with affordable, reliable mobile Internet access means we are one step closer to bringing Internet for All," said Telenor Group's Brekke.
Sources for youth demographic information: Boston Consulting Group, CIA World Factbook 2009-2011, Malaysia National Census 2010, United Nations 2011.
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