TODAY, the international community devotes considerable attention to the political, military and economic aspects of cyber security. This is only natural. Disruption of critical infrastructure, cyber espionage, hacking attacks on big business and the banking sector - indeed, these are extremely acute problems now. However, let's talk about a no less important aspect of information security, its humanitarian dimension, specifically the security of children and teenagers on the Internet. There is a well-known expression: "Children are our future." There can be no sustainable development of the state or the international community as a whole unless children, as the most vulnerable social group, are provided appropriate protection and rights in cyberspace. It may be recalled that, according to expert estimates, every third Internet user in the world is under the age of 18. This is a substantial figure.
Having received access to the Internet, minors have opened a kind of Pandora's box. It would be wrong to say, of course, that it contains only dangers and threats - far from it. The Worldwide Web opens broad opportunities for adolescents to access educational information, communication, online learning, socialization, and creative self-expression.
However, there are a considerable number of threats for children and teens lurking in cyberspace. The first and perhaps the most serious danger for them is Internet dependence, or in other words, a kind of "digital addiction." According to a survey that was conducted by Kaspersky Lab in 2016, about 56% of all underage respondents in Russia were practically always online; in the United States, the proportion is somewhat smaller, 51%; in Europe, it is 40%.
The second problem is that cyberspace is used by all kinds of malefactors for purposes that are far from benevolent. This includes cyber bullying, sexual harassment of children and destructive content (pornography, encouragement of extremism or suicide through "death groups" and so on). These problems are common; they have affected not only the United States, European countries and Russia but also countries in the Middle East and Asia.
Another very dangerous problem is related to the Internet of Things - to be more precise, Internet toys. Experts note that today, malefactors can hack such toys and get access to a home Wi-Fi network, as well as obtain data on an adolescent and send him messages purportedly on behalf of his family.
There can be no sustainable development of the state or the international community as a whole unless children, as the most vulnerable social group, are provided appropriate protection and rights in cyberspace.
It is pointless to weigh all "pros" and "cons" regarding children's Internet use. The digitization of society is an irreversible process. Nassim [Nicholas] Taleb, a prominent American economist and trader, has said that development as such is beneficial and inevitable, the only question is how we adjust to it; if society does not adjust to change fast enough, it is bound to collapse; what's more, with its most sensitive areas being affected.
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