5Rights Foundation celebrates Safer Internet Day 2024

On the 6th of February 2024, we celebrated Safer Internet Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness of how we can make the Internet safer and better for everyone, and most importantly children. At 5Rights this day is of paramount importance. We took part in events calling for the better embedding of children’s rights into digital and legal systems around the world. We celebrated the work of others in this field. And we heard from children themselves, how they would like to be better protected and respected online.  

Our Chair Baroness Kidron, Executive Director Leanda Barrington-Leach, and Director of the Digital Futures for Children centre, Professor Sonia Livingstone were in Stockholm, at the Swedish Prince Couple’s Foundation “Ctrl + Rights Conference”, to discuss the salience of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and General comment No. 25, and the role they will play when enforcing the DSA and AI Act. As members of the Nordic coalition, we remain committed to our regional cooperation with partners in Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway, to develop, enforce, and promote regulatory frameworks that prioritise children’s rights in the digital environment. We took the opportunity of the conference to present and share the updated Nordic Declaration that will function as a “blueprint to give concrete content and life to children’s rights recognised by international, EU and national law”. A key discussion point was that if we want to create a digital space that protects and empowers children by default and design, it requires tech companies to take responsibility for the children who are using their services. In her speech, Baroness Kidron said: “A child is a child until they reach maturity – not just until they reach for a smartphone. Society has a choice – to let technology erode childhood or to make sure that the full creativity and power of innovation helps us build the digital world children deserve.”

 To bolster community engagement, we spoke with youth workers in Scotland about the real-world impact of the Online Safety Act and how it can support the role of ‘trusted adults’ in protecting and empowering young people online. Our Youth Engagement Coordinator, Kaine Senkumba, spoke at YouthLink Scotland’s Digital Youth Work Conference 2024 and discussed the need to apply the same safety considerations we make around teaching safety outdoors to safety online.  

In London, our head of UK affairs, Colette Collins-Walsh, attended a roundtable with the Online Safety Act Network to share evidence and insight on Ofcom’s draft codes on illegal harms, and the concern around the experiences of women and girls online. And then, as part of Childnet International’s Safer Internet Day Inspiring Change Youth Conference, Colette met with children and young people to hear their thoughts on how social media influencers make them feel, and their excitement and worries about AI.

Lastly, we launched our Instagram page with our video on children across the world sharing their thoughts on what they want from a safer internet. Key concerns revolved around: businesses putting profit above children’s rights; privacy; freedom to say what they think, and the dangers of misinformation. It is our hope that Instagram will help us better engage with young people and amplify their voices.

Sweden’s HRH Princess Sofia perfectly summed up the day when she said: “The digital world is not designed for children - but it must be.”