‘Online abuse cases surged during COVID-19, AI exacerbating issue’:

‘Online abuse cases surged during COVID-19, AI exacerbating issue’:


The surge in online abuse cases during the pandemic has raised concerns about the safety and protection of minors on digital platforms.

M.D. Sarath, Superintendent of Police, Economic Offences Division, highlighted this trend while addressing a multi-stakeholders consultation on ‘Preventing and responding to online child sexual exploitation’ held by the Children of India Foundation in Bengaluru on Monday.

Mr. Sarath added that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is being exploited to manipulate images and videos shared online, exacerbating the issue.

“AI facilitates misuse of pictures and videos shared online. Downloading fake applications and compromise of email addresses and passwords also play a role in cyber crime. Though password management and child lock can be enabled, there are always chances that the third-party app can be hacked,” he added

Speaking about the challenges faced by parents, Mr. Sarath urged them to actively engage their children in offline activities as a preventive measure against unrestricted online access.

Addressing the issue from a psychological standpoint, R. Dhanasekhara Pandian, Professor and Former Head of the Department of Psychiatric Social Work at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), spoke about the rise of mobile addiction across all age groups, including children. He highlighted the need for responsible and healthy technology usage.

The conference also delved into the role of affinity and peer groups in shaping children’s online behaviour.

K. Naganna Gowda, Chairperson of the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR), said that the environment in which children are raised greatly influences their attitudes and actions. “Parents and guardians should strike a balance between providing necessary information and protecting children from unnecessary exposure,” he said.

Ashok V.M. Kumar, Regional Vice-President of the International Justice Mission, called upon parents to actively monitor their children’s online activities. He noted three critical factors: observing what children see, do, and with whom they communicate.

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