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Child online protection: new risks, new tools, new remedies?

by Jutta Croll, Stiftung Digitale Chancen
Published on: 07.11.12
Source: eigener Bericht

Backed up by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child stakeholders call upon resilience as the universal remedy to online risks and threats

Two of the morning sessions of the second day at the IGF were dedicated to child online protection.

With Jacqueline Beauchere (Microsoft ), John Carr (eNACSO), Larry Magid (connectsafely.org), Richard Allan (facebook) and Susie Hendrie (GSMA) a high ranking panel chaired by VGT representative Anjan Bose (ECPAT International) dicussed in WS 125 what innovative application of ICTs can do to facilitate child protection online.

When John Carr stressed that many parents are overstrained with new technology and are unable to cope with their children's digital education, we looked back to the lessons learned at the Youth Protection Roundtable some years ago laid down in the YPRT Toolkit. At the YPRT technicians and service providers have been talking with children's advocates about technical support built into the services. In the debate this morning Richard called this support "micro education" which are very simple technical tools, like pop-up windows with warnings, explanations in the services or even posing 24 hours of denial of postings to users that do not behave as recommended by the service. This built-in technical support could help improve digital literacy education and also provoke a dialogue between parents and their children about what is going on online.

The 2nd workshop with the title 'The UN convention on the Rights of the Child - is it fit for purpose in the digital age?' tried to answer the question if the UN convention on the Rights of the Child is still fit for purpose.

Panelists from the left to the right: Kate Pawelczyk (UNICEF), Jasmina Byrne (UNICEF), John Carr (eNACSO), Larry Magid (connectsafely.org), Maria Herzog (Hungary,UN Committee on the Convention on the Rights of the Child)

The debate was quite controversial for example regards the US legislation COPPA as a means to refrain children from the right of using social networks like facebook under the age of thirteen referring to 13 year old Olivia from Denmark who stated on Tuesday that she would rather be allowed to take chances and risks than being overprotected. At that point also young people themselves not being part of the panel was criticised.

Eventually the panel as well as the audience concluded that if children are resilient enough they do not need extra protection. The role social work can play was pointed out by several speakers, but it was also mentioned that social workers would need training for that task. The best interests of the child as quoted from § 18 UNCRC should be the basic concern of children's carers, be they parents or legal guardians of the child was the final conclusion of the workshop.

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