UNICEF calls for action to end digital divide

Only 15 per cent people have access to the Internet in the least-developed countries, a UNICEF report has revealed.

In developed countries, an estimated 81 per cent people use Internet, the report covering 24 countries, including India, in 2017 said.

Digital divide do not merely separate the connected from the unconnected, they go deeper concerning how people, including youth and children, use Information and Communication Technology (ICT), a UNICEF spokesperson said after launching the report  last week.

The report quoted data from world’s wealthiest countries to show that ICT experience has a huge impact on the wages of labourers in countries like Australia and US. Adults without ICT experience were likely to earn less.

“Other studies of adult population in countries such as India and Tunisia reflect similar findings,” the report said.

The report said while about 29 per cent of youth, in the age group of 15-24 years, (346 million individuals), don’t have access to the Internet, the situation is almost opposite in the case of children.

Just about 30 per cent of children, below 15 years, have access to the digital media across the globe, the report said.

“Children who are unconnected are missing out on rich educational resources, access to global information and online opportunities of learning. They are also forgoing ways to explore new friendships and self-expression,” it said.

Calling it a digital divide, the report explained that the gap will amplify the advantage of children from wealthier backgrounds even as the poor and disadvantages ones remain deprived of opportunities.

Referring to a digital gender gap, the report said, globally 12 per cent more men used the internet than women did in 2017.

The report calls for faster action, focused investment and greater cooperation to protect children from the harms of a more connected world, the UNICEF spokesman said.

West Bengal Women and Child Development minister Sashi Panja, who had attended the launch event last week, assured to take note of the findings and its implications on the kids here.

“We will go through the contents of the report and take necessary actions based on the findings in our state,” West Bengal Women and Child Development minister Sashi Panja told PTI.

PTI News

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