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  • Published 19.11.21

    Children's Rights Day 2021

    Every year on 20 November, we celebrate the birthday of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was adopted by the Children's Rights Committee on this day in 1989.

    In 2021, there is a special birthday present: The 25th General Comment on the rights of children in the digital environment is now also available in German language and as a searchable html-file in English language.

    Digital media play a role in all areas of children's lives, they are changing people's everyday lives and the way children grow up, offering opportunities and harbouring risks. In order for us to cope well with these changes, the 25th General Comment explains in a total of 125 paragraphs how to understand children's rights today, more than 30 years after the adoption of the UNCRC, and what needs to be done to realise children's rights also in the digital environment. The text gives all those who work with and for children a comprehensible basis and good justification for their efforts so that all children can benefit from the opportunities digitalisation offers.

    The 25th General Comment was drafted by the Children's Rights Committee together with a group of child rights experts and adopted on 2 March 2021.

    The translation of General Comment No. 25 of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child was carried out in a cooperation of the Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft kommunale Kinderinteressenvertretungen - Verein zur Umsetzung der Rechte des Kindes auf kommunaler Ebene e.V. (Federal Association for the Implementation of the Rights of the Child at Local Level). (BAG Kinderinteressen e.V. for short) and the Monitoring Centre UN Convention on the Rights of the Child of the German Institute for Human Rights and edited with the assistance of an editorial team of which the project Child Protection and Children's Rights in the Digital World is a member.

    All General Comments on the UN CRC translated into German language to date are also available as accessible PDF files at https://www.kinderrechtekommentare.de

  • Published 20.09.21

    World Children's Day 2021: Reason to celebrate children's rights in the digital world!

    Jutta Croll, Stiftung Digitale Chancen

    Today is World Children's Day. This is a good occasion to let children from all over the world have their say. In our video you can hear and see what children and young people think about their rights in the digital world.

    Last year, more than 700 children worldwide took part in workshops and exchanged views on the importance of the internet for their lives, where they would like to see protection but also more freedom and who can support them in this. They made very concrete suggestions on how the digital world can be made child-friendly and what needs to change.

    The report Our rights in the digital world reflects the children's opinions.

    The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has incorporated the results of the workshops into the 25th General Comment on children's rights in relation to the digital environment. This is currently being translated into German. We have already translated a child-friendly version of the General Comment, which was created together with children from the UK, together with children from Germany. The poster In our own words summarises the most important demands for a good and child-friendly growing up with digital media.

    Since the adoption of the General Comment, governments in all parts of the world must ensure that children's rights are respected, protected and fulfilled in the digital environment. The General Comment is therefore something of a to-do list for government representatives, but also for other stakeholders involved in shaping the digital environment and for those who bear responsibility for children growing up well.

    Today, on World Children's Day, we want to point this out and we want to celebrate that children's rights apply everywhere in the world - also in the digital space.

  • Published 21.06.21

    The European Digital Services Act must deliver for children

    5Rights Foundation, Stiftung Digitale Chancen

    Children and young people have long-established rights and protections offline and a life mediated by tech must be held to the same standards. Our digital world is a purpose-built environment, shaped through conscious choices. We must choose to build a digital world that supports and empowers young people and upholds their rights. The Digital Services Act represents a singular opportunity to ensure that children’s rights are respected, embedded and upheld online.

    Technology (or its absence) is now a defining feature of childhood. Yet children - who make up one in five users of digital services in the EU - live in a digital world designed by adults, for adults, and driven by commercial interests.

    The problems children face from the digital world are systemic. They are not restricted to technical bugs or bad actors but are also present in the features and architecture of the products and services on which children rely for access to education, health, entertainment, civic engagement and to manage their relationships with family and friends. Children are routinely presented with information, behaviours and pressures that they do not have the developmental capacity to negotiate. They are introduced to unknown adults, nudged to make in-game purchases, targeted by dangerous or harmful content, bombarded with targeted advertising and misinformation, and subjected to invasive, extractive data gathering.

    We need a better deal for children online, and in order to achieve this, children need to be recognised in the digital environment. The protections, privileges and rights which empower and support young people offline need to be upheld online.

    5Rights Foundation, supported by the broader children’s rights, human rights, digital rights and consumer protection communities, calls upon the European Parliament and Council of Ministers to include a children’s clause in the Digital Services Act requiring all providers of services likely to be accessed by or impact on children to uphold their rights, undertake child impact assessments and mitigate systemic risks to children’s rights, based on statutory standards.

    The DSA must guarantee a level of protection below which companies shall not fall, without precluding the provision of additional protections for children at national level, notably in view of technological innovations. The DSA's "one-stop-shop" enforcement mechanism should not inhibit the smooth and timely enforcement of children's rights throughout the territory of the Union.

    Now is the time to build the digital world that young people deserve.

  • Published 02.05.21

    More protection, provision, and participation for children on the Internet

    Stiftung Digitale Chancen

    The new Youth Protection Act came into effect in Germany on May 1, 2021.

    Providers of Internet platforms used by children and young people, must take precautionary measures to ensure better protection against interaction risks. This refers to risks potentially arising from the use of services and contact with other users. A specific precautionary measure would be safe default settings when a new user profile is created. Demanding this the new German legislation is based on the principle of "evolving capacities" in accordance with Article 5 of the UNCRC, i.e. the capacities that develop as children grow older. This allows younger children to start their online experiences in a safe environment. When they are more experienced in using the Internet and specific platforms, settings can gradually be loosened and more freedom can be granted.

    However, this presupposes that parents and other adult caregivers also have the necessary media literacy and educational skills to accompany children as they navigate their way through the digital world. Age labels and descriptors for digital media content and services as prescribed under the new Youth Protection Act are intended to provide support in this regard.

    In two years, the future Federal Agency for the Protection of Children and Young People in the Media (formerly BPjM) will evaluate the effectiveness of these legal regulations, with the help and participation of an advisory board that also includes young people. Acceptance for youth media protection measures is likely to increase significantly, especially among adolescents, if they themselves can participate in the development and evaluation. The new Youth Protection Act is a major step forward by strengthening the rights of children in accordance to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on the basis of the 25th General Comment to the UNCRC and therefore also deserves international attention.

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