Every half a second, every day, a child goes online for the first time – tapping into all the great opportunities the Internet has to offer, but facing grave risks, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said Tuesday, calling for urgent action to protect them from sexual exploitation, cyberbullying and the misuse of their private information.

"The potential of connectivity makes it easier for children to connect with their peers anywhere in the world […] is a tool for children’s empowerment and engagement with their communities. However, this connectivity puts them at risk of their private information, access to harmful content, and cyberbullying," said Sheldon Yett, UNICEF Pacific Representative.

As outlined in The State of the World’s Children 2017: Children in a digital world Worldwide, one-in-three internet users is a child, and yet too little is done to protect them from digital world perils.

"Every day, thousands of children are going online for the first time, which opens them up to a flood of dangers we are just coming to appreciate, let alone address," said Laurence Chandy, UNICEF Director of Data, Research and Policy.

"While governments and the private sector have made some progress in formulating policies and approaches to eliminate the most egregious online risks, more effort must be made to fully understand and protect children’s online lives," he added.

UNICEF is working with governments in the Pacific to deliver cyber safety programmes particularly in Tonga and Samoa and provide tips to parents on how to protect their children online.

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