Child Online Safety Index Reveals A ‘Persistent Cyber-Pandemic’ DQ Institute’s Report Shows Consistent 70% Cyber-Risk Exposure Among Children


Today the DQ Institute released its 2023 Child Online Safety Index (COSI), a national-level metric designed to assist countries in effectively monitoring the status of children’s online safety. The Index has found that, once again, a high percentage -nearly 70% – of children and adolescents aged 8-18 worldwide have experienced at least one cyber-risk in the past year. This alarming statistic has remained virtually unchanged since the Index began in 2018, a situation DQ Institute has dubbed a “persistent cyber-pandemic.”

Dr. Yuhyun Park, founder of the DQ Institute, said: “We have witnessed seven years of consistently high, 70% cyber-risk exposure rates among 8-18-year-old children and youth. We now refer to this phenomenon as a ‘persistent cyber-pandemic.’ Today, with the fast deployment of generative AI, the metaverse, and XR-like (Extended Reality) pervasive devices, digital technology is changing children’s lives even more, yet there is minimal discussion regarding their potential harmful effects. Global coordinated action, akin to addressing climate challenges, is imperative, and we can no longer delay.”

The COSI draws on data collected from a sample of 351,376 children spanning from 2017 to the present day. In this latest edition, the Index introduces a four-point rating scale enabling policymakers and industry leaders to precisely identify strengths and areas for improvement in their child online safety initiatives and measures. According to the Index, United KingdomGermany and China were the top performers across the dimensions. Standout performers under individual pillars were:

  • Children’s Safe Use of Technology: United Kingdom and Australia
  • Family Support: India and Singapore
  • School Digital Citizenship Education: Italy and Taiwan
  • ICT Company Responsibility: Germany and France
  • Government Policy and Regulations: Canada and France
  • Technology Infrastructure: Korea and China

Additionally, Saudi Arabia, hosting the Global Cybersecurity Forum (GCF) where the 2023 Index was launched, demonstrated significant improvements compared to the previous year. Saudi Arabia excels in the dimensions of Children’s Safe Use of Technology, ICT Company Responsibilities, and Technology Infrastructure, while opportunities for enhancement exist in Family Support, School Digital Citizenship Education, and Government Policies and Regulation.

GCF, an annual event bringing together decision makers and experts to discuss the most pressing issues in Cyberspace, has partnered with the DQ Institute since 2022. Child online safety has been a strong theme at GCF, which has elevated the issue in its program agenda, including its 2023 edition.

Notes to editors:

The Child Online Safety Index (COSI), is a national-level metric designed to assist countries in effectively monitoring the status of their children’s online safety. The COSI score is a composite rating that combines the scores of six key stakeholders from families to ICT companies, evaluating their efforts to enhance child online safety within the country, encompassing 12 topics and 39 indicators.

Through the use of COSI, countries can identify areas requiring improvement in addressing online safety issues across the six key stakeholders using global benchmarking. This approach allows for more efficient resource allocation and the enhanced implementation of relevant initiatives. As a result, stakeholders can coordinate their efforts effectively, leading to improved child online safety, all while having the ability to measure national progress quantitatively.

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