Stephanie Joy Raison
Chief Communications, Advocacy & Partnership
Protecting the rights of children in this digital age means balancing, and, more importantly, helping them to learn to balance the risks and opportunities that digital technologies expose them to. Online risks are very much linked to offline risks; we shouldn’t prevent children from accessing digital space because of the perceived risks. Rather we should engage them in conversations, discuss with them solutions to avoid risks and empower them to express concerns.
Participation is a right enshrined in the Convention on Rights of the Child. Digital tools provide natural opportunities for children and adolescents to realize their right to participation.
Children and youth are not passive beneficiaries; they are also forging new tools and forms of social interaction that enhance their role as active citizens in their communities. In many ways, they are leading the generation of new content and applications to amplify their voices and seek solutions to problems that affect their communities.
We need to further examine how we as adults can engage more closely with children to ensure their participation in efforts towards child online protection – children’s fears about the online space could be different from the perceived fears of parents. For example a child might fear bullying while a parent might fear them accessing pornography.
The Internet and social media provide incredible opportunities for children to learn, participate and socialize but they also bring significant challenges for the protection of children from abuse and violence. Let us all commit to ensure a safe online environment for every boy and every girl.