As a result of digitisation and mediatisation, the lives of children are changing dramatically. Mobile devices enable the availability and accessibility of the internet almost regardless of location and time. Article 17 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child stipulates that State Parties must give children access to media. Children’s rights have to be fully respected in the digital environment.
The rights to participation, to freedom of information and expression, to education, to recreation and play, and to participate in art and culture – among other rights – have the potential for better implementation and dissemination in the digital environment. This potential has not been fully exploited yet. These fundamental rights and freedoms are rarely the focus of political and educational (especially relating to media education) considerations, and are not yet taken into account when developing products and services. The protection rights established in Articles 16, 19, 32 and 34 regarding risk exposures arising or intensifying as a result of digitisation are yet to be fully reinterpreted.
On the one hand, children are recipients of online content, and on the other, they act independently as producers. Protecting their personal rights and data, however, usually falls short of the economic interests of providers. There are very few protection schemes which simultaneously and adequately take into account the notion of participation and promotion, nor is there a sufficient amount of secure social networks and platforms, well rated games and guides on counselling services, or online participation formats. Parents and professionals require support when it comes to the increasingly complex challenge of age-appropriate media education.
- The National Coalition Germany recommends that the UN Committee call on the German federal government to
- 49. Establish protection schemes and complaints mechanisms, as well as education and counselling formats to adapt children’s and adolescents’ presence and activity in the digital environment;
- 50. Structurally embed media education across the board in early-childhood, curricular and extracurricular education contexts;
- 51. Fully implement the ‘Guidelines to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of the child in the digital environment’ passed by the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers of 4 July 2018;
- 52. Develop a holistic understanding of child protection in the digital environment which guarantees children’s rights to protection, participation and promotion, and which aims to minimise risks associated with communication and interaction, and to enable children to participate in society.