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Pietro Ferrara; Giulia Franceschini; Giovanni Corsello (et al.)
Children and adolescents who experience a prolonged state of physical isolation during COVID-19 may look
for alternative, attractive or unconventional forms of socialization, available in the web
world. This may expose them to the risks of unsupervised cyberspace exploration beyond the
open web, which may lead them to areas that are usually not available to visitors. They may pass
the gates of the “open” and “deep web” sections and enter into the dangerous “dark web” zones,
which predominantly host unethical and criminal activities. In those shadowy corners of the
worldwide web, there exist dangers ranging from identity theft and drug trade to suicide chat-rooms
and child pornography.
This commentary, authored by EPA-UNEPSA members of the working group on social pediatrics,
briefly discusses the features of the dark web and its implications for children and adolescents. The aim is to raise awareness of pediatricians and families on the growing risk of child exploitation
through the web, at a time when vulnerable young people face home lockdowns with potential
abusers intruding on their privacy.
UNICEF Innocenti's Children and COVID-19 Library is a database collecting research from around the world on COVID-19 and its impacts on children and adolescents.
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