Internet habits of school going children in India

Telenor published its WebWise report that analyses internet usage and access patterns of school going children. The report has findings of the safe Internet survey done in schools by Telenor India.

The survey reveals access trends of school going children in areas such as:
·         Medium used to access internet
·         What is Internet being used for
·         Who will they approach if they are bullied
·         Understanding of safe internet practices
·         Awareness about child helpline
·         Favourite social media platforms
·         Types of cyber harm faced

The WebWise survey was conducted across schools in 13 cities of India covering a sample size of 2727 students who have attended these sessions. The WebWise programme is aimed at strengthening digital resiliency among school children. As part of the programme, Telenor employees conduct workshops in schools to spread awareness on safe internet practices for students, teachers and parents.

Sharad Mehrotra, Chief Executive Officer, Telenor India Communications said, “At Telenor, we believe in promoting a digitally connected society. As our children embark on this journey, it is our responsibility to ensure that Internet becomes a window to a wealth of information for them. On one hand the WebWise Report highlights the vulnerabilities and cyber threats, and on the other hand it presents us with insights that can help us to create focused awareness campaigns around safe internet practices. Telenor has taken many steps towards enabling safe internet including Child Helpline 1098 by embedding the number on SIMs. Additionally, we conduct WebWise workshops to coach students on how to be safe while being online. We have reached out to over 55,000 students and will continue to educate them, along with parents and teachers, to ensure a secure digital future.”

The Telenor India WebWise report indicates that children are extremely vulnerable to account hacking, receiving inappropriate messages, being bullied online, etc. Cyber-bullying has also emerged as one of the major threats online and often it goes undetected as children do not discuss the issue with parents or teachers.

Key findings of the survey:

·   98.8% school-going children access internet in urban areas and 49.5% of them do it from home
·   Over 43% use mobile as the medium to access internet, followed by laptop, desktop and tablets
·   Children use internet to find information for school projects, playing games, reading online books, listening to music and watching movies, social networking sites, email, etc.
·   54.8% children share their passwords with friends
·   Majority of children were willing to approach their parents in case they experience any cyber harm
·   Over 76% children are not aware of the Child Helpline 1098
·   Facebook is the most favourite platform, followed by WhatsApp, Twitter and Instagram
·   Over 35% children have experienced their account being hacked while 15.74% shared that they have received inappropriate messages.
·   15% complained of being bullied online whereas 10.41% faced humiliation through picture/video that were uploaded on Internet

After the workshop, 92.6% of the children surveyed said they will not share personal information with strangers while online whereas 89.3% said they will block suspicious persons and inform an adult in case they are bullied online.

In 2014, a Boston Consulting Group (BCG) study done on behalf of the Telenor Group indicated that nearly 180 million children will access internet by 2017 in Telenor markets (13 countries) and up to 85% will use mobile devices as their point of access.  Amongst the 12 countries studied by BCG, children in India were in the highest risk category due to a combination of increased access, enabled by affordable Internet and smartphones, and lack of knowledge among parents and children on the safeguards against different types of cyber threats. To mitigate these risks, Telenor has been consistently working towards making Internet use safe among children. It is extremely important for a parent to monitor the online activities of their children and constantly educate them on internet safety by citing real life examples. Earlier this year, Telenor had also launched a Parental Guide to help parents talk to their children about internet access and solve their existing dilemmas.