The European Parents Association (EPA) held a conference in Lisbon on 4 April on “Challenges for parents in the digital age”. The aim of the conference was to explore the various challenges for teenagers, parents and grandparents alike in an increasingly connected and digitalized world. Some of these challenges include: social networking and privacy, cyberbullying, the “digital divide” between generations, children’s rights, education in the digital age, digital skills and entrepreneurship, parent training and democracy. COFACE was invited to present our #DeleteCyberbullying project and children’s rights online during one of the afternoon workshops.
The key message of the presentation is that some children’s rights online are better implemented than others. While the right to freedom of speech is relatively well protected online including for children, other rights such as article 17 of the UNCRC on the role of mass media and access to quality content or article 31 on the right to rest and leisure appropriate to the age of the child along with the right to participate fully in the cultural and artistic life are far from being fulfilled.
The internet has indeed enabled children to express themselves quite freely via a plethora of online services (social networks, chat forums, websites, video platforms etc). At the same time, their exposure to inappropriate content has grown steadily and the various stakeholders responsible for online content (especially governments and online content/service providers) have not done enough to ensure that children have access to “information and material from a diversity of national and international sources, especially those aimed at the promotion of his or her social, spiritual and moral well-being and physical and mental health” (to quote the UNCRC).
Additionally, children have very little influence on the “cultural and artistic life” online. They are seen as present and future consumers, targeted by advertising and encouraged to spend money online via games or other activities where their participation is most often passive rather than pro-active.
For more information about the EPA conference and COFACE’s presentation of children’s rights online and cyberbullying, please visit the EPA conference article here