The Dignity of Minors in the Digital World

Hans Zollner SJ

 Hans Zollner SJ
 Katharina A. Fuchs / Church Life / Published Date:23 January 2019/Last Updated Date:10 March 2020

It is rare to meet with parents who are not concerned about their children’s use of the internet, particularly given the widespread presence of pornographic images on the web. What is worrisome in the private sector and for families takes on terrifying dimensions when we look at the global numbers and see the vastness and complexity of the problem.

It is estimated that at the end of 2018 51.2 percent of individuals, or 3.9 billion people, are using the internet,[1] of whom at least a quarter are minors. It can certainly be said that the internet offers great possibilities, advantages and conveniences, but it also undoubtedly brings great risks for security, exposure to economic scams and dangers to the integrity and dignity of those people, especially children, who do not have the tools to defend themselves.

Thus, they are threatened by new forms of abuse, such as cyberbullying (the use of new technologies to intimidate, harass, embarrass, make others feel uncomfortable or excluded), cyber grooming (sexual grooming through the net), sexting (sending sexually explicit texts or images over the internet or by mobile phone) and sextortion (a practice often used by cybercriminals to extort money from victims: the attacker contacts the victim, convinces the person to send sexually explicit photos and videos and then asks for money not to make this material public).

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