Published:Feb 6, 2024


High digital life quality doesn't always shield kids online

Safer Internet Day is observed every February to advocate for a safer and more positive internet for everyone, particularly children. To mark this event, Surfshark's research hub is exploring the connection between the global Children’s Online Safety Index—a national-level metric designed to help countries monitor the online safety of their children—and two other indexes: the Digital Quality of Life, which examines overall digital wellbeing, and the KidsRights Index, a global ranking that measures the respect for children’s rights worldwide. Let’s dive in!

Key insights

  • Countries with an overall higher standard of digital life often display greater child online safety. Those ranking in the top tier of the Child Online Safety Index (COSI) average 0.6 out of 1 on the Digital Quality of Life (DQL) index scale, while countries with a low COSI average only 0.3 in DQL, marking a significant deviation from the overall DQL average of 0.5.
  • However, in some countries, a high quality of digital life does not ensure a high level of online protection for children. In total, 19 countries in the top two tiers of the DQL find themselves in the two lowest categories of the COSI index scale. These include 14 European countries: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Switzerland, and Ukraine; 3 Asian countries: Israel, Bahrain, and Kazakhstan; and 2 South American countries: Chile and Uruguay.
  • Countries that enforce robust children's rights usually achieve high ratings in children’s online safety. Those in the highest category of the Child Online Safety Index have an average KidsRights Index score of 697 out of 1000, closely following the overall average of 694. In stark contrast, countries in the lowest COSI category average a KidsRights Index score of 559.
  • Dr. Yuhyun Park, founder of the DQ Institute, which releases COSI annually, said “We have witnessed seven years of consistently high, 70% cyber-risk exposure rates among 8-18-year-old children and youth. We now refer to this phenomenon as a ‘persistent cyber-pandemic.’ Today, with the fast deployment of generative AI, the metaverse, and XR-like (Extended Reality) pervasive devices, digital technology is changing children’s lives even more, yet there is minimal discussion regarding their potential harmful effects. Global coordinated action, akin to addressing climate challenges, is imperative, and we can no longer delay.”

Methodology and sources

Data for COSI, KidsRights and DQL indexes for 2023 was collected from DQ Institute, KidsRights and Surfshark, respectively. KidsRights and DQL index data were split into quartiles and aggregated with COSI category data for comparison. A total of 100 countries and territories with available COSI data were analyzed in this study.

For the complete research material behind this study, visit here.

Data was collected from:

DQ Institute (2023). Child Online Safety Index 2023;KidsRights (2023). KidsRights Index 2023;Surfshark (2023). Digital Quality of Life Index 2023.
The team behind this research:About us