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| 1 minute read

Adolescents' rights in a digital age? UN CRC and Children's Commissioner call for digital citizenship and greater safeguards

The rights of children during adolescence have been recognised in a new General Comment by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, which includes particular focus on digital media and children's rights.

In the General Comment No. 20 on the implementation of the rights of the child during adolescence, the Committee recommends that states should promote equal access to digital citizenship, including through the promotion of accessible formats for adolescents with disabilities, coupled with strengthened legislation and law enforcement mechanisms for safeguarding adolescents from risks such as online fraud, violence and hate speech, cyberbullying, grooming and exploitation.

The call for a programme of digital citizenship has been echoed by the Children's Commissioner for England.  In her report Growing Up Digital, published in January 2017, the Children's Commissioner and the Growing Up Digital Taskforce also call upon the UK Government:

  • to implement a comparable law to the General Data Protection Regulation, due to come into force in the EU in 2018, which ensures that privacy notices are written in a plain way that children will understand;
  • to create a new Children's Digital Ombudsman to mediate between under 18s and social media companies; and
  • to ensure that the "right to remove" facility will still be available to UK children post-Brexit.

The Children's Commissioner also supports calls for a review of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to bring it up to date for the digital age, a call spearheaded by Professor Sonia Livingstone at the LSE.

According to the Children's Commissioner:

The rights enjoyed by children offline must be extended online. While the US, Australia, the EU and even the UK have made small steps toward better protecting children's rights online, the scale at which these rights are still routinely ignored is eye-watering.


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