International think-tank the DQ Institute launches the world’s first real-time Child Online Safety Index on Safer Internet Day 2020, after surveying 145,426 children and adolescents in 30 countries over the last three years.

Almost two-thirds (60%) of children aged 8-12 surveyed across 30 countries are exposed to one or more forms of cyber risk, amounting to a ‘cyber pandemic’, DQ Institute’s Child Online Safety Index (COSI) revealed today.

Constituting these risks:

Japan is the least risky with less than a quarter (24%) exposed.

Based on a survey of 145,426 children and adolescents in 30 countries over the last three years, the COSI is the world’s first real-time measure to help nations understand their children’s online safety status. The COSI was announced by the DQ Institute as part of the #DQEveryChild global movement in collaboration with over 100 organizations including Singtel, AIS, Optus, TURKCELL, Twitter, World Economic Forum, and JA Worldwide since 2017. It is linked with DQ assessment tools and its global database and will be automatically updated as countries progress with their child online safety and digital citizenship initiatives. This will help countries coordinate more effectively various efforts to enhance child online safety and digital citizenship, thus enabling the measurement of global progress on this front.

Exposure to cyber risks is one of six measures that make up the COSI. Overall Spain ranks first followed by Australia, while Thailand ranks last.

On the second measure, Disciplined Digital Use – taking into account excessive screen time, high social media and gaming use, and mobile phone ownership among children – Japan ranked highest and the Dominican Republic ranked lowest. In Japan, 8-19 year olds spend one day (24 hours) per week looking at screens, while in the Dominican Republic children spend almost twice as long (44 hours) staring at mobile phones, televisions and computers.

The third measure in the COSI is Digital Competency – children’s ability to use technology safely and responsibly. Here, India ranked first and Thailand last.

The fourth measure is Guidance and Education, assessing protective support and direction from parents and schools. On this basis, Egypt comes first and Indonesia last.

Fifth, the COSI measures Social Infrastructure, taking account of government policies and ethical industry practices for child online protection. The US is ranked first here and Nepal is ranked last.

Finally, the COSI looks at Connectivity, measuring children’s meaningful access to the internet, with Singapore topping the ranking and Nepal coming last.

In general, the COSI found that Western and East Asian countries tended to rank higher for child online safety, with South and Southeast Asian, Latin American and Middle Eastern and African countries tending to rank lower.

East Asian countries tended to rank better than countries in other regions on cyber risks, disciplined digital use, digital competency and connectivity. Western countries tended to outperform countries in other regions on social infrastructure and guidance and education.

Dr Yuhyun Park, Founder of the DQ Institute, said:

“The Child Online Safety Index should serve as a wakeup call to everyone about the safety of the world’s children online.

No nation, even those ranked highly, has cause for complacency. What we are witnessing is a global cyber-pandemic with high exposure to multiple forms of online risks threatening children across all the countries we surveyed.

Everyone in society has a role to play in turning this around. Businesses, from social media and telecommunications to hardware and gaming companies, should make child online safety a core business principle. Companies should also partner with schools to help tackle cyberbullying. And governments must back stronger digital education. Most importantly, parents must be aware that they can make changes and reduce online harm. Helping children discipline their digital use from an early age is a necessary starting point for mitigating cyber risks. Primary schools also must teach students digital citizenship as part of their standard curriculum.

Through the index, countries will be able to identify areas of improvement through global benchmarking and then better focus on deploying initiatives for their children’s online safety.”

Sunny Varkey, Founder of the Varkey Foundation and the Global Teacher Prize, said:

“We’ve been supporting this important work ever since the #DQEveryChild global movement was launched at the Global Education & Skills Forum in 2017. The Child Online Safety Index that has emerged as a result is a vital piece of research and my fervent hope is that policy makers around the world will act upon its findings.”

Guillermo Miranda, Global head of IBM Corporate Social Responsibility, said:

“The Child Online Safety Index shows young people need more resources to stay safe online around the world, which is why IBM is contributing to this important work with our recently released “Let’s Talk Safe Tech” initiative which aims to educate young people about best practices in cybersecurity at no cost. The DQ Institute is paving the way for us to understand more about the important benchmarks for cyber safety, and we look forward to continuing to work with them on our shared mission to improve the online safety of youth everywhere.”

Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Director of ITU, said:

“A full half of the global population is under 30. While the young population has grown by almost 140 million over the past 20 years, so too has youth unemployment. I welcome the work of DQ Institute as a way to provide evidence on how the power of ICTs can create the world that we want. A world where everyone, no matter where they live, what their gender or what language they speak, has access to the same basic rights and opportunities. A world where every young person has the chance to prosper and realise his or her dreams.”

Asheesh Advani, CEO of JA Worldwide, said:

“Every year, JA Worldwide prepares millions of global youth with the employment and entrepreneurship skills they need to thrive right now and in the future. In this fast-moving and complex age of technology, developing digital skills couldn’t be more important. That’s why we’re proud to partner with DQ Institute to integrate training and assessment of young people’s digital quotient (DQ) into our core programmes.”

Jacqueline Beauchere, Global Digital Safety Advocate of Microsoft, said:

“As a 16-year participant in Safer Internet Day, Microsoft is pleased to support the inaugural release of the DQ Institute’s Child Online Safety Index (COSI). Helping to protect children on the internet is part of our longstanding work to promote a safer online environment for all, and we look forward to continuing to collaborate with the DQ Institute and others to encourage greater civility and kindness in all digital interactions.”