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  • Published 16.09.20

    ITU 2020 Guidelines on Child Online Protection

    Marlene Fasolt, Stiftung Digitale Chancen

    ITU 2020 Guidelines on Child Online Protection (COP)

    During the Corona Crisis more children than ever have been going online and with that there has been an increase in the amount of online criminal offences directed at children, stated Dr. Najat Maalla M'jid on the official Facebook page of the United Nations Office on Violence Against Children. To work against that problem, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) launched its 2020 Guidelines on Child Online Protection (COP), a set of recommendations for stakeholders on how to contribute to the development of a safe and empowering online environment for children and young people. It consists of four parts, each directed to the four different key audiences: children, parents and educators, industry and policymakers. Almost all Guidelines are available in English, Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, French and Russian.

    The guidelines for children have been published in three different forms: a story book for children under nine, a workbook for children aged 9 to 11, and a social media campaign and microsite for children and young people aged 12 to 18 (only available in English). These aim to show children how to manage risks online and empower them to safely be able to use the opportunities that the internet offers.

    The guidelines for parents and educators serve as a tool to protect and support children and young people using the internet and to make the families aware of the potential risks that their children face. The importance of having an open communication with your children and students and giving them the feeling that they can confide in you is strongly emphasized.

    The guidelines for industry aim to support the industry in developing safer child online protection policies. They recommend integrating child rights considerations into all policies, developing standard processes to handle child sexual abuse material, creating a safer and age-appropriate online environment, educating children, carers and educators about children's safety, and portraying digital technologies as a way to increase civic engagement.

    The guidelines for policymakers provide a base on which to develop inclusive strategies e.g. through open consultations and direct communication with children. This would lead to better targeted and more efficient measures. The guidelines recommend policies should build on internationals standards, like the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

    These guidelines are a “very timely tool to safeguard the well-being, integrity, and safety of our children, our most precious gift," ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao said in the press release of the 2020 Guidelines on COP and they should be taken into account when making any decisions that can concern a child’s wellbeing.

    All the guidelines can be downloaded here.

  • Published 09.09.20

    „ Respect my rights! Healthy living!" KiKA’s thematic focus from September 7 to 25, 2020

    Marlene Fasolt, Stiftung Digitale Chancen

    The right to health is enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (Article 24). Here, health is defined as "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity", which aligns with the WHOs views. Article 12 of the UN-CRC grants children the right to be heard in all matters concerning them. In agreement with this KiKA conducted a survey to find out more about the well-being of children during the Corona crisis. The children‘s channel commissioned a survey of 843 schoolchildren aged 6 to 13 on the topics of nutrition, exercise, and sustainability. The majority of the children showed a surprisingly high awareness of these health issues

    For 39% of those surveyed, eating less sweets has a positive effect. "Sweets should be offered in moderation because sugar is generally very addictive" explained a 9-year-old female respondent. However, drinks should also be taken into account, according to the children. Almost two thirds of them prefer water (60 %), followed by sparkling juices (22 %), and finally softdrinks in third place(7,7 %).

    In order to find out what health means for children, they were asked how to prevent childhood obesity. The majority of children see healthier food (83%), and exercise and sports (61%) as preventive measures. In contrast to the Motoric Module Study 2019 (MoMo) , which showed that about 80% of 6 to 17-year-olds in Germany aren‘t active enough (less than 60min of "moderate to strenuous activity" daily), in the KiKA study 89% of the six to 13-year-olds stated that they had moved for about an hour or more the previous day. They particularly like to be active outdoors or meet friends (65%), cycling or walking is also very popular (63%), and almost a third (30%) visit a sports club regularly.

    "I don't want to put pressure on myself to perform, I prefer to play around foolishly", said a 7-year-old girl when asked about exercise.

    Mental health is also an important issue, especially during the corona crisis. Most schools, playgrounds, and sports clubs were closed for a long time and children could not play around with friends as they would have liked to. Many children missed their friends (77%), visits to playgrounds (58%), everyday hobbies (45%), and above all their grandparents (54%). Therefore, the children were also asked how they felt during the pandemic. About half of the children (50.9 %) said they were "very well" or "rather well". Just under a third (29%) were undecided and the remaining children (20%) were "not feeling so well" or even "not well at all". Especially children aged eight to nine and girls felt uncomfortable during this time. Some children enjoyed having less school, spending more time with the family and seeing their parents more often. Only 13% of those surveyed said there was nothing good about Corona.

    "A school subject dealing with health education would be important," said a 13-year-old male interviewee. This statement is directly related to Article 24 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which requires that all children be "provided with basic knowledge concerning the child's health and nutrition" and that they "have access to appropriate training".

    Particularly in light of the corona pandemic, the issue of health is becoming increasingly important also for children. During the KiKA thematic focus, many aspects of the topic of health will be presented through documentaries, magazines, or films. These can be found on the TV channel or as on-demand offers on kika.de, kikaninchen.de, in the KiKANiNCHEN app, and in the KiKA player. During the ongoing corona phase, the KiKA consulting service "KUMMERKASTEN" offers mental support. On kika.de/kummerkasten the corona hygiene rules are shown in an entertaining way and during the period of the thematic focus, study results are taken up and perseverance is encouraged.

  • Published 13.08.20

    Invitation to comment on a General Comment on children’s rights in relation to the digital environment

    We are happy to announce that the Unites Nation’s Committee on the Rights of the Child is currently drafting a general comment on children’s rights in relation to the digital environment.

    As of Aug. 12 the Committee now invites all interested stakeholders to comment on its draft general comment. The deadline for submissions is 15 November 2020. No submissions received after this deadline will be considered or posted on the webpage of the Committee.

    After due consideration of inputs provided, the Committee will decide on the contents of the final version of the general comment. All comments:

    • Should be submitted in one of the official languages of the Committee: English, French or Spanish;
    • Should be in one concise and focused document indicating precisely the paragraphs to which comments are being made and must not exceed 3,000 words;
    • Should be submitted electronically in WORD format to the following email address: crc@ohchr.org;
    • Will not be accepted if they do not follow the above requirements;
    • Will not be translated;
    • Shall be posted on the CRC webpage devoted to this draft general comment.

    The current version of the draft general comment can be found here.

  • Published 01.04.20

    Children's rights - Children's worries and concerns

    Jutta Croll, Stiftung Digitale Chancen

    Children's rights are not confined solely to the physical environment. They apply every bit as much in the digital world and form the basis of the core work of the project childrens-rights.digital at Stiftung Digitale Chancen. A major part of our mission is to explain how the rights of children are to be respected in everyday digital life.

    The COVID-19 pandemic poses new challenges for people of all ages. However, if there is one tiny upside, it seems likely that when we come out at the other end of the current crisis a large number of people will be more acutely aware of something children have known for a long time. The distinction between analogue and digital, between face-to-face and virtual, is vanishingly small. Obviously certain kinds of social transactions can only be completed if people are in close proximity to each other, but we are all also now learning in a very direct and immediate way just how many social transactions can take place over the internet. Necessity is the mother of invention.

    My own screen time has almost doubled in the last week compared to before - because I no longer sit at a table with colleagues but communicate via an online application on my laptop or smartphone. All of our everyday lives have suddenly become much more digital. More than we could have imagined even just a few weeks ago.

    What does this mean for children's rights, for the freedoms they are granted and for the protection they need in accordance with the respective articles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child?

    Children have a right to education (Art. 28), but in families where adults and children normally share the hardware, it can be hard to reconcile home-based employment-related work and schoolwork. Social disadvantage will be further exacerbated where families lack the necessary technical equipment and enough bandwidth to access the internet at acceptable speeds. When the Art. 31 right to play and leisure and to participate in art and culture can only be exercised at home because playgrounds and youth recreation spaces are closed, further conflicts and tensions arise and everybody’s patience can be put to the test.

    It has been known for some time that risks to children also increase when they spend larger amounts of time online. These could be in the form of undesirable contacts made through online games, exposure to unsuitable content or dubious purchase offers. These bring to mind the protective rights under Art. 17 (protection of minors in the media), Art. 19 (protection against commercial exploitation) and Art. 34 (protection against sexual abuse) are affected. Currently, the main burden of ensuring that children can use digital media safely rests on the shoulders of their parents. They need support in this regard and responsible action on the part of the platform operators is required, as provided for in the amendment to the German Youth Protection Act.

    Despite all their need for protection, children also have a right to privacy even in these unusual times (Art. 16). A lot depends on the age and capabilities of each individual child but, in principle, children have a right to stay in contact with their friends without their parents or siblings "knowing everything", and they are entitled to know that the contents of their communications are not visible to unauthorised persons.

    Home is not always the happiest place for every child. For this reason they need to be aware of the contact points outside their family, from which they can confidentially obtain advice and help. Together with advice centres all over Germany, the childrens-rights.digital project is working to ensure that this is possible in accordance with the requirements of the EU data protection regulations. In the current situation, the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs is increasing its support for counselling services so that they can meet the increasing demand from children and young people, see the Ministry's press release with links to a selection of offers.

    In politics and administration, in the family and in the wider social environment, the best interest of the child should always have priority in all decisions. This is the basic principle of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. It remains every bit as valid and important even in difficult times like these. The significance of digitisation, which has previously been perceived in a rather abstract way, is now becoming clear to an enormously larger circle of people in everyday life.

    When we come out of this moment it is likely our understanding of the digital environment will be greatly enlarged and enhanced. In particular, we will have a better understanding of the way in which digital spaces can shape and facilitate contacts between people both in a positive and productive way, but also in less desirable ways. This improved understanding should act as an important spur for progressive change which bodes well both for society as a whole and above all for the realization of children's rights in the digital environment.

  • Published 06.03.20

    Call for participation in the programme development for the IGF 2020

    Jutta Croll, Stiftung Digitale Chancen, Stiftung Digitale Chancen

    The United Nations Multistakeholder Advisory Group calls for active participation in the programme development for the Internet Governance Forum 2020. Proposals for workshops can now be submitted. In addition, there is the possibility to apply for hosting an Open Forum (only open to certain types of organisations), for arranging pre-events on Day Zero (the day before the official opening) and for a booth at the IGF Village. For the first time, all participants with musical talent are also invited to rock the stage at the IGF Music Night.

    The deadline for submissions is now extended til April 22nd 2020, at midnight (UTC)!

    On invitation by the Polish Government, the 15th Internet Governance Forum will take place in Katowice from 2-6 November 2020 under the main topic Internet United. In order to follow up on the results of the IGF 2019 in Berlin, the three thematic strands of the previous year "Data", "Inclusion" and "Trust" will be continued in Poland and complemented by "Environment" as a fourth strand.

    Issues relating to children's rights are of great importance in all four thematic areas. Aspects of protection and security will be addressed particularly in the thematic strand "Trust". In the light of an upcoming General Comment to the UN-Convention on the Rights of the Child in regard of the digital environment the IGF 2020 will provide for an excellent opportunity to discuss theses issues further engaging a multitude of stakeholders from around the globe.

    We encourage the child rights community strongly to participate in the programming and to submit a broad range of proposals as it was the case last year. To achieve acceptance of proposals it is particularly important to ensure the diversity in regard of regional origin, societal group, gender and age. Please contact us at jcroll@digitale-chancen.de if you would like to submit a workshop proposal and you need support in addressing international partner organisations or in selecting speakers. We will also be happy to help you fill in the necessary information in the submission form.

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