On 2nd March, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child adopted general comment No. 25 on children’s rights in relation to the digital environment. Its adoption makes explicit - for the first time - that children’s rights apply in the digital world. 5Rights is hosting an event on general comment No. 25 on Wednesday 24th April at 3pm, which you can register for here.
A key waypoint on this journey was a children’s consultation undertaken to ensure that kid’s views were at the heart of any new comment. Under the consultation, 69 workshops were held in 19 languages. Some 709 children and young people aged between nine and 22 years old were consulted in 27 countries on six continents to input into the general comment. They offered insights into how digital technology impacts their rights, and what action they want to see taken to protect them. Overwhelmingly, the consultation illustrated that children are passionately keen to be part of the digital world, but they are frustrated by its faults and feel it should serve them better. You can now read the results of that consultation in the form of a new summary report: ‘Our Rights in a Digital World.’
Through the consultation, children provided a clear vision of the digital world they want. They want a more private, protective and transparent digital world: one that is age-appropriate and enabling of their interests, relationships and opportunities. They are determined that parents, governments and commercial companies should respect their rights, in particular those that would give them access to truthful information in their own language, to privacy and to protection from violence and inappropriate content. They also want to maximise the benefits of being online; in particular to create and shape a better world.
The consultation also showed that the issues upon which children agree far outweigh the differences brought about by their specific circumstance and context, which may be as a result of the fact that irrespective of their location or circumstances they are largely using the same products and services – and it is this which in large part determines their experience.
However, the consultation also takes time to note that digital technologies also impact on children without their active participation, for example by automating decisions about the distribution of public services or predicting educational outcomes. In this context children’s rights still have a part to play, not only where children are active participants, but in all circumstances in which digital technology impacts on their lives. The insights documented in this report help to relay what children want and deserve from digital technologies; not just as users of digital products, services and platforms, but as creators, decision-makers and as citizens, both now and in the future.
The consultation was undertaken by Professor Amanda Third and Lilly Moody from the Young and Resilient Research Centre at Western Sydney University, on behalf of the 5Rights Foundation, and with the support of 27 partner organisations around the world. A full on the findings of the children’s consultation will be published in Spring, 2021.