General comment No. 25 - Chapter III: General principles C - D
C. Right to life, survival and development
Opportunities provided by the digital environment play an increasingly crucial role in children’s development and may be vital for children’s life and survival, especially in situations of crisis. States parties should take all appropriate measures to protect children from risks to their right to life, survival and development. Risks relating to content, contact, conduct and contract encompass, among other things, violent and sexual content, cyberaggression and harassment, gambling, exploitation and abuse, including sexual exploitation and abuse, and the promotion of or incitement to suicide or life-threatening activities, including by criminals or armed groups designated as terrorist or violent extremist. States parties should identify and address the emerging risks that children face in diverse contexts, including by listening to their views on the nature of the particular risks that they face.
The use of digital devices should not be harmful, nor should it be a substitute for in-person interactions among children or between children and parents or caregivers. States parties should pay specific attention to the effects of technology in the earliest years of life, when brain plasticity is maximal and the social environment, in particular relationships with parents and caregivers, is crucial to shaping children’s cognitive, emotional and social development. In the early years, precautions may be required, depending on the design, purpose and uses of technologies. Training and advice on the appropriate use of digital devices should be given to parents, caregivers, educators and other relevant actors, taking into account the research on the effects of digital technologies on children’s development, especially during the critical neurological growth spurts of early childhood and adolescence.
Children reported that the digital environment afforded them crucial opportunities for their voices to be heard in matters that affected them. The use of digital technologies can help to realize children’s participation at the local, national and international levels. States parties should promote awareness of, and access to, digital means for children to express their views and offer training and support for children to participate on an equal basis with adults, anonymously where needed, so that they can be effective advocates for their rights, individually and as a group.
When developing legislation, policies, programmes, services and training on children’s rights in relation to the digital environment, States parties should involve all children, listen to their needs and give due weight to their views. They should ensure that digital service providers actively engage with children, applying appropriate safeguards, and give their views due consideration when developing products and services.
States parties are encouraged to utilize the digital environment to consult with children on relevant legislative, administrative and other measures and to ensure that their views are considered seriously and that children’s participation does not result in undue monitoring or data collection that violates their right to privacy, freedom of thought and opinion. They should ensure that consultative processes are inclusive of children who lack access to technology or the skills to use it.
D. Respect for the views of the child
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