The eWorldwide Group (eWWG), a global leader in social innovation committed to creating a resilient and sustainable future, has issued a compelling call to action to address the critical digital disconnect and protect children and young people from the rapidly evolving online threats. The group’s latest report, “Digital Disconnect: Critical Gaps in the Guidelines for Child Online Protection,” underscores the urgent need for updated guidelines that address emerging threats posed by technologies such as generative AI and large learning models. It also reviews current guidelines and their efficacy in safeguarding children from evolving online threats.
The report sheds light on how generative AI, including language models like ChatGPT, is increasingly utilised by social media platforms such as Snapchat, without adequate safeguards for young users. These advanced technologies have the potential to nudge, profile, and exploit unsuspecting children and youth, putting their digital safety and privacy at risk.
“Our research highlighted significant disconnects between what is actually happening online today, and current best practices and guidelines,” says Prof. Abbasi. “From generative AI to deep trolling and the continuous algorithmic pushing children and youth are exposed to, the guidelines are lacking. They completely omit how to navigate through these new threats. In this digital age, there is an urgent need to re-examine our concepts of guidance and the digital resilience young people require.”
In an era where artificial intelligence is rapidly integrating with multiple social media platforms, there is a concerning escalation in the diversity of online threats to children. The report is a result of a detailed study of guidelines from diverse stakeholders, such as UN agencies, businesses, and social media companies, with a focus on their effectiveness against online threats to children and youth.
eWWG’s international youth interconnection forum, FUTURE (Fostering Unity Through Understanding, Respect, and Engagement), is taking proactive steps to develop practical and effective checklists that can help bridge this gap in child online protection. These checklists aim to equip children, young people, and their parents with the necessary knowledge and tools to navigate the digital landscape safely.
In addition to this, eWWG is actively engaging in dialogue with stakeholders worldwide, hosting webinars, and convening round table discussions to bring attention to this pressing issue. By fostering collaboration and shared learning, eWWG seeks to collectively develop a deeper understanding of the accelerating risks and best practices for safeguarding children and young people online.
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