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Published 08.02.21

Our Rights in a Digital World - Report on children’s perspective on their rights in the digital world

Marlene Fasolt, Stiftung Digitale Chancen

The 18. annual Safer Internet day takes place today, 9 February, 2021. There will be events spread all over the world under the motto “Together for a better Internet”. This year the problems of fighting fake news and counteracting violence and hate in the Internet will be the main topics and discussed extensively. We will take this as an opportunity to present young people's perspectives on their rights in the digital world, which includes freedom of expression as well as access to information and protection against violence.

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child decided to develop a General Comment on children’s rights in relation to the digital environment in 2018. They held workshops in 27 countries to actively include perspectives of children and young people. 709 young people, aged 9 to 22, were invited to talk about their rights in the digital environment and express their opinions and thoughts on the topic.

They talked a lot about violence and hate on the Internet. Violence on the Internet is worse than physical violence, according to a girl from Croatia. Young people also see the spread of fake news as a major problem, which leads to people no longer knowing what to believe.

Young people feel at home in the digital world and want to be part of it, no matter where they live, but they believe that the Internet should meet their wishes and requirements better.

During the workshops the participants developed eight requirements for a safe and child-friendly Internet:

  1. Affordable, accessible and reliable access to devices and connectivity
  2. Age-appropriate content in their own language
  3. Action to prevent and remedy discriminatory or aggressive behavior, so that everyone can have the same access and possibilities
  4. Trusted and truthful information, including less inappropriate content and transparent information on how personal data is being used, from online services themselves
  5. Greater privacy, in particular less surveillance by commercial entities and parents
  6. Greater understanding from, and better digital literacy for, their parents
  7. Services that protect from predators and abuse
  8. Access to confidential and trustworthy sources of health information

One of the participants fittingly said: “The world is moving forward, and so we must do the same” and with that underlined the need to finally make the internet better and safer for kids.

The full report “Our Rights in a Digital World” can be downloaded here.