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 You are in: Front Page > In Depth > Children's Rights > A World for Children
A World for Children

"Kids make contact with all kinds of people"

Maryam, 14, Iran

Maryam is from Iran, a country which is slowly opening up the internet to popular use.

There are around seven commercial internet service providers (ISPs), including NRI (Neda Rayaneh Institute), the largest.

However only a minority of a population of 65 million actually have access to the internet. NUA, a resource for internet trends and statistics, offers an educated guess as to how many people are using this technology in Iran. It estimates that there are only 250,000 users; 0.38% of the population.

Until recently, the technology was reserved for the Iranian elite, including academic and government users.

Recently however with reformist President Mohammad Khatami's approach to freer press and the growth of more domestic internet connections, adults and children have been increasingly tapping into Western cultures and their products.

Children are entitled to access information from a wide range of sources, including print television and radio as well as new technologies. This right is stipulated in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Article 17 states the following, governments "... shall recognise the important function performed by the mass media and shall ensure that the child has access to information and material from a diversity of national and international sources."

In Maryam's view, the web has had a positive influence on the children of Iran.
AudioListen to Maryam's story in Farsi
Begin Quote
The internet has had a number of good effects. For example, instead of going to English courses or wasting time aimlessly, kids in Iran now sit at their computers and make contact with all kinds of people in the world. This increases their general knowledge and improves their English a lot.

It can have harmful effects, because there are some kids who spend 24 hours of their day behind the computer, and forget their childhood games like playing with dolls or cars, or playing outdoors and in the garden.

But the fact is that it still increases their knowledge and helps them meet new people and learn new things. That makes the internet a very good thing.

Nowadays, thanks to the internet, whichever young kids you talk to, you realise they have more general information and can talk about any subject, and they are not ignorant anymore.

But of course, only those who are wealthy can have computers and access to the web in Iran.

Whenever you want to add something new, you need to spend more. Each new piece of software or game you get, you have to upgrade your computer for it.

Not all families can afford that, and of course young kids are full of such expectations.

Then again Iran is now full of net cafes, and kids of all walks of life can go there and use their facilities.

Unfortunately some families do not appreciate what they offer and won't allow their kids to go to these internet cafes, thinking it may not be a good influence or environment, even though it might not really be that way.
End Quote
AudioListen to Maryam's story in Farsi
Care and Protection
A Voice and Information

Fact Since reformist President Mohammad Khatami came to power in 1997, he has spoken of greater respect for the freedom of press.

Fact The government runs websites for its own political and religious messages. Recently it published the writings of the late Ayatollah Khomeini, who led the Islamic Revolution in 1979, on the internet. Works by Khomeini's son, Ahmed, are also available.

Fact Conservative religious leaders have said the web corrupts Iranian society and poses a threat to Islamic morals.

Fact The internet has been part of the debate within the Iranian leadership discussing the constructive and efficient use of this technology.

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