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INTRO

Child Protection and Children’s Rights in the Digital World

Since the enactment of the UN-Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989, our world has changed in manifold ways - and with it the living environment of children. It is therefore important to take a closer look at the guidelines with regard to the change in society due to digitisation.

A consistent understanding of the terms “child” and “digital world” is required for analysing the implications of digitisation on the living environment of children.

According to the UN-Convention on the Rights of the Child, a child means any person under the age of 18 years old. We understand the term digital environment as more than just the internet. It encompasses the interaction of an evolving offer of connected digital services (content, software and applications) from commercial, public and other providers. This includes all computing and digitally networked technologies and services, often referred to as ICTs, the Internet, the World Wide Web, mobile devices and networks, online, “apps”, social media platforms, electronic databases, ‘big data,’ ‘Internet of Things’, ‘information society services’, the media environment, online gaming, and any developments resulting in access to or services for digital environment.

In consideration of the digitisation of children’s living environment, we focus on the following six areas of rights: Access, Freedom of Expression and Information, Assembly and Association, Participation and Play, Privacy and Data Protection, Education and Digital Literacy, Protection and Safety - taking into account international Human Rights Conventions, like the UN-Convention on the Rights of the Child and the European Convention on Human Rights.


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    Evolving capacities

    The evolving capacities of the child as an enabling principle that addresses the process of their gradual acquisition of competencies, understanding and agency must be respected.

    That process has particular significance in the digital environment, where children can engage more independently from supervision by parents and caregivers.

    The risks and opportunities associated with children’s engagement in the digital environment change depending on their age and stage of development.

    This must be taken in considerations whenever measures to protect children in, or facilitate their access to, that environment are designed. The design of age-appropriate measures should be informed by the best and most up-to-date research available, from a range of disciplines.