Pinarayi Vijayan | Mathrubhumi photo
Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday said the state government is moving ahead with steps to achieve complete digital literacy with an objective to make people especially children aware about traps and threats in cyberspace.
Since smartphones have become part of everyone's daily life and it has become a significant tool for online education in the post-COVID-19 period, children cannot be kept away from digital space forever but their safety and security should be ensured through awareness, he said.
Saying that it was not appropriate for a social media user to retain a post even if the content was found faulty, Vijayan also urged those who control the social media domain to keep a vigil on such trends.
The Chief Minister was speaking at Cotton Hills Girls Higher Secondary School here, after inaugurating the "Koottu" programme, initiated by the state police's Cyberdome aiming to spread awareness on cyber safety among the kids and students in the schools in the state.
The "Koottu" programme is a joint initiative of Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) and the state government to stop rising incidents of online child pornography and online crimes against children.
"The government feels that it is time to launch steps to achieve complete digital literacy just like our literacy movement. We are planning to go ahead with such steps. At present, children are the most vulnerable group in cyberspace and the ones most victimised to the online traps," he said.
Children are victimised to such traps because of their lack of knowledge and misunderstanding and there were instances of children even losing their lives due to this, the Marxist veteran added.
He said the police launched the campaign as part of efforts to make children aware about the threats and perils of cyberspace.
As digital technology and online systems are now an integral part of day-to-day life, it is very important to have clear knowledge about all aspects of the digital world, the Chief Minister added.
He congratulated BBA for working with Kerala Police, Cyberdome and other organisations.
"The need to have correct knowledge regarding cyberspace and its implementation is very essential, and the joint effort can only help in making cyberspace better for the children," he added.
Rajni Sekhri Sibal, CEO of BBA, who was the guest of honour at the launch ceremony, said the programme is a great step in the right direction.
Stating that Kerala has made significant progress in ensuring cyber safety, she said it can act as a role model for other states.
During the pandemic, internet usage saw a rise of 40 per cent to 100 per cent compared to the pre-lockdown levels in various parts of the country. In 2021, close to 85 million images of child abuse were reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, she said.
"However, children should be careful and vigilant while using the internet and should come forward and report such incidents actively. Parents, teachers, and police are always there to help children who face any form of online abuse," Sibal added.
ADGP Manoj Abraham said the crime pattern related to cyberspace and the precaution and privacy needs to be maintained by children on social media.
"In future, the state police will be ahead in ensuring a safe cyber world for children in collaboration with different agencies. Koottu is an ongoing and big step ahead in association with Bachpan Bacha Andolan," Abraham added.
The Koottu programme will be implemented by Cyberdome and the state police, with support from Counter Child Sexual Exploitation (CCSE), Childline, Meta (Facebook), Inker Robotics, MAC Labs, IMA, and the non-governmental organisation Bodhini.
This programme will include seminars, workshops and exhibitions at various locations and is expected to be attended by schools and other educational institutions and residents' associations.