Maynul Islam, a 17 year old young man from Lakshmipur, Bangladesh, was recently recognized by the Kids Rights Foundation of the Netherlands and nominated by the government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh for the highly esteemed International Children’s Peace Prize for 2023. He stands under the category of child protection for his efforts to make the online world a safer place for children and has been nominated along with eighty eight children from thirty five countries around the world.
“The (ICPP) is awarded once a year to a child who fights courageously for children’s rights,” according to Kids Rights. The group refers to the youth as “changemaker and social innovator.”
Kids Rights noted statistics that inspired his efforts:
“More than 6,000,000 children and teenagers in Bangladesh are using internet and video sharing platforms. At that time [of the pandemic], while using the Internet and video sharing platforms, children and teenagers were exposed to some objectionable video content. These see many children and teenagers getting involved in various crimes, some stop going to school, suffer from depression, guilt, or in some cases resort to drug abuse and suicide.”
Kids Rights also states: “All winners have shown a remarkable commitment to combating problems millions of children face worldwide. The motivation behind the prize is to provide a platform for children to express their ideas and personal involvement in children’s rights.”
Maynuls’ inspiration to help his fellow man and bring light to a worldwide problem facing youth began with his own experiences during the height of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. He and other children in Bangladesh turned to the internet and video sharing platforms in their plight to bear the burden of lockdowns and quarantine. They then became addicted to using these platforms.
These circumstances greatly disturbed him and members of his team. The group collectively vowed “not to let any child or teenager become a victim of any crime by watching these video contents.”
The Bangladeshi nominee spoke to Dhaka Tribune about his overwhelming emotion of joy brought on by receiving recognition for his efforts, by saying: “Words cannot express how I feel about being nominated for this award. I come from a remote area and have been working… for a long time. There is truly no greater honor than representing Bangladesh on the global stage… I am immensely proud.”
The young man co-founded Mentor Mashai in 2020, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting underprivileged children and adolescents in various ways. He and his team are also the brains behind a safe video-sharing platform designed exclusively for children called BabyTube.
“Maynul has spent the last three years working tirelessly to safeguard the rights of children and teenagers on the internet while promoting peace in his country,” Kids Rights said.
He also shared with Dhaka Tribune the aim of his and his team’s efforts by explaining what they hope to achieve with the app BabyTube they have produced. “This platform seeks to protect the innocence of childhood by providing a curated space where kids can explore, learn, and have fun without stumbling upon inappropriate content,” the youth expressed in an interview.
The Daily Star also featured the nominee and his team on their news outlet and brought attention to the safe video sharing platform BabyTube:
“BabyTube is an app similar to YouTube… anybody can upload content based on interest…a strict monitoring policy is followed whereby harmful content…degrading to the mental health of children is not allowed on the platform. There are many categories in the app for young minds to enjoy [including] educational content [and] movies.”
Daily Star also interviewed enthusiastic parent Rezwana Elvis to give her opinion of the app: “It is almost impossible for me to keep track of what my son is doing online. With BabyTube, I am less worried…at least I know that he is watching safe and useful content instead of improper material that might be harmful.”
Business Inspection a digital media platform in Bangladesh featured BabyTube and highlighted its success:
“Launched in April 2021, BabyTube has quickly gained popularity among parents and children alike. The platform has already been downloaded nearly 45,000 times from the Google Play store, and over 200,000 people are connected to BabyTube’s Facebook page, website, and app. With a growing number of content creators joining the platform, BabyTube aims to provide a comprehensive video-sharing experience for children and teenagers that is both entertaining and educational.”
Kids Rights recently announced: “This year, the award ceremony for the winner of the 2023 ICPP will take place in London for the first time [Nov. 17]. …To ensure as many people as possible can join the ceremony, it will be live-streamed worldwide.”