BLOG: 5Rights' work with childen

In 2015, 5Rights commissioned academics from the University of Leeds and University of Nottingham to deliver ‘Youth Juries’ across three cities, London, Leeds and Nottingham, to explore children’s views of The 5 Rights. Deliberative juries are traditionally used to help those without the knowledge of their rights. They are given information and context, but bring their own experiences to the process, to form a collective vision. The Juries allowed young people to have a say about their rights online, and gave them the opportunity to consider, debate and share their ideas for the future of the internet.

One juror remarked *“it’s important for young people to have a say in these things because a lot of older people try to think about what it would be like as a young person on the internet, but they don’t realise how vulnerable young people are… it’s important that young people get this chance to speak for ourselves.” *

The youth juror’s recommendations were compiled into a report, The Internet On Our Own Terms, and presented to policymakers in parliament, fulfilling Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child: that all children are given a voice in matters concerning them.

Since the Youth Juries programme, 5Rights has collaborated with Young Scot and the Scottish government to create Digital Young Leaders. The Leaders have published policy reports, hosted conferences, submitted evidence to government consultations, and briefed cabinet ministers, police, NHS, local government and beyond; they have also been invited to meet with product developers, senior civil servants and company leaders. As a result of their extraordinary work, 5Rights is the official Scottish government’s policy (read their report, Our Digital Rights).

What do young people want?

Throughout the course of our work with children and young people, they have told us that they struggle with managing their time online – and how their device use leads to family conflict, of the pressure to be popular and fit-in – and the public nature of social fall-outs, and that they are shocked at the amount of data that companies collect, share and retain – and how this data influences their behaviour…

But the young people are not despondent. They are deeply passionate about their rights online and have many ideas and demands for change. These include:

  • A one-time terms and conditions for the whole internet, so that you only have to sign up once
  • A pop up which comes after you have spent a certain amount of time on a game or site, saying something like ‘you have to log out now and can’t return until a certain time’
  • Criteria to apply to messages that you send, saying for instance ‘no screenshots’
  • Education that is not just about cyber-bullying, but includes information about what happens to your data, and how companies on the internet work – and that the companies are not necessarily doing everything in your favour
  • Mandatory settings that ensure that your account is set to the highest levels of privacy from the outset.

This year, we are running a small pilot in London with children and young people, testing some of what we understand about what they want to know about their digital world. We expect to report on that work later in the year.

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