According to UNICEF, globally, 33% of children have access to the internet on their devices at home. Over the last decade, better accessibility and affordability of online learning have elevated the way children learn. The vulnerability and safety of children who are consuming online content is an immediate reality that we need to address. Providing a safe ecosystem for children to learn online has become an increasing concern for parents, teachers and everyone alike. It is imperative for all EdTech organizations to align to safety norms and declare themselves as “Child Safe, Online”. Creating a secure online space is most definitely the need of the hour, not only for EdTech, but for any and every platform that children today use.
Vedantu, a pioneer in LIVE online learning, was the first to launch a child safety initiative in 2020 to create a robust prevention and redressal mechanism across all the online and offline touch points, making online education safe for every child. To further uphold this initiative, Vedantu, along with Space2Grow, a leading social impact consulting firm, launched the Online Child Safety Benchmarking Framework, proposing internal standards and criteria for EdTech firms and other institutions in the e-learning space. This will ensure that services to all stakeholders, especially children, are safe and standardized.
Vedantu celebrated child safety week which culminated into a multi-stakeholder event on 14th Nov 2022 to discuss solutions that have been implemented, the experiences of Vedantu’s students and teachers, and finally, the way forward for EdTech companies with respect to online child safety. Apart from the two organizations, the meeting was attended by the NCPCR Chairperson and Omidyar Network India representatives. The meeting also included a release of Vedantu and Space2Grow’s Online Child Safety Benchmarking and Internal Assessment Report 2022 – the first of its kind in the EdTech sector, on the performance of online safety standards.
Shri. Priyank Kanangoo, Honorable Chairman, NCPCR, said “The Internet is a vital tool for everyone today and a way for children to not only learn but also stay connected to the world. In light of increased vulnerabilities of children in the online space, we applaud the initiative taken by Vedantu & Space2Grow for creating the Online Child Safety Framework that enables a safe learning environment where children can learn and flourish.”
Pulkit Jain, Co-founder & Head of New Initiatives and Culture, Vedantu, “Today, children have access to digital devices and online platforms for various activities, ranging from online learning and video streaming to online games and social media. At Vedantu, we believe that the safety of our children is of the utmost importance. We have achieved significant progress and increased compliance when it comes to child protection and its execution in the organization. Through constant review, audit and innovations that not only benefit the safety of children online, but also empower parents, teachers and students, we hope to create more awareness about online child safety.”
“With almost every child on the internet today, the need for standardized regulations and advisory for Edtech and other cyber spaces have become a priority. Since 2020, our #ChildSafetyFirst initiatives have ensured that every session is safe and secure with no unsolicited interruptions. The Space2Grow framework entails an internal assessment of the level of accountability, data privacy, awareness, reporting and redressal standards on online child safety. This assessment was conducted for Vedantu and its key stakeholders – parents and teachers, enabling advancement of our child safety policy. The need of the hour, is for EdTechs to adopt these key guidelines, and make every child safe”, commented Chitra Iyer, Co-Founder & CEO, Space2Grow.
About the child safety benchmarking report 2021:
The proposed framework has four major indicators for internal assessment of EdTech companies and includes factors such as:
- Accountability: Focuses on the responsibility and accountability that the organization undertakes for child protection with commitment from the senior level management.
- Reporting and Redressal: Evaluates the presence of the structure of reporting and redressal for child abuse cases and service level agreements.
- Privacy & Data Handling: Assesses the process around handling of personal information, responsiveness of the information owners, and the ease to access personal information.
- Digital risks & harms: Focuses on the presence of relevant infrastructure to minimize the risk of cyberbullying and cyber abuse on the online platform, and gauges how responsive the platform is to take action.
The assessment involves benchmarking against the S2G POCSO Assessment Score, includes representation from each department, and a detailed survey with the key stakeholders – children, parents, teachers and sales agents. The parameters were reviewed against each pillar (which were identified by S2G while setting benchmarking standards as essential indicators of online safety of children). The methodology used for interaction included:
- Focus Group Discussions (FGDs)
- Survey through questionnaires
- Discussions with the child safety team on questions that define each pillar along with supporting documents for achieving child safety
The pillar assessment included reviewing the performance of Vedantu across 32 key metrics that define safety of children in digital spaces across the four pillars, in all, including awareness, efficacy and reporting redressal parameters.