The greatest threat girls and boys face in the online space is inappropriate sharing of images according to findings of a survey of students from grade-9 to grade-12. The survey conducted between January-April 2022 under the ‘Responsible Digital Citizenship and Online Safety’ project by Wranga app and Disney Star India, was to assess the proficiency of young online users with the safety tools at their disposal, and identify their preferred mode of learning. A report based on the survey and analysis of 842 responses was released virtually on July 29.
According to the report, 70% of respondents were worried about their online privacy and safety—besides improper use of photos, they also raised concerns over setting up of fake profiles or misrepresenting profiles, taking screenshots without permission and circulating, stumbling upon inappropriate visual and textual content, and unwanted approaches in chat rooms, on social-networking sites or on email. Fake news and misinformation is another concern with 84% of users saying that they bhave come across fake news online.
Students also revealed that although topics like cyber bullying and misinformation are touched upon in the classroom, more must be done to have a real-life impact. “Topics were taught but not enforced in any way. So they didn’t have any real-world impact.”
On the positive side, however, an overwhelming 80%-90% of students believed that the Internet has helped broaden their horizons, and prefer to use the worldwide web for learning new subjects and for creative expression. The respondents also listed specific topics they would like to deep-dive into through their school curriculum, including Legal Protection, Internet Privacy and Cyber Wellness.
To promote positive use of technology and online amongst youth, Disney Star India in collaboration with Wranga has initiated this project, which is a four stage project. The survey is one of the main elements in the first phase of this programme and will be followed by expert panels alongside workshops, training, focus-group discussions and design of curricula.
According to Amitabh Kumar, CEO, Wranga, “I feel that this report, compiled with the invaluable co-operation of Disney Star India, can be the start to a conversation we must all be having. Because our children are spending a lot of their time online, it is imperative that we understand the particular challenges and threats they face, and that we resolve to make the digital world as safe as possible for them.”
In the words of Mihir Rale, Chief General Counsel, Disney Star India, “This study is an important contribution to the discussion on digital safety, knowing that a lot of our lives are being spent online. It is even more urgent that steps are taken to address the problems and risks associated with the digital ecosystem, more so when these affect our children. I think the report will go a long way towards strengthening online security.”
Annapurna Devi, Minister of State for Education lauded Disney Star and Wranga’s efforts towards digital citizenship and online safety and said: “In the present times, the digital presence of students and educational institutes has significantly increased. Thus, educating our youth about the safety and security of utilizing Internet is imperative to make them responsible digital citizens. Along with the teachers, it is also the responsibility of the youth’s guardians to steer them in the right direction. I believe that this project will be beneficial.”