The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), has launched the 2020 Guidelines on Child Online Protection (COP), saying the guideline is a comprehensive set of recommendations for children, parents and educators, industry and policymakers on how to contribute to the development of a safe and empowering online environment for children and young people.
ITU said the essence of the guideline is to develop a safe and empowering online environment for children and young people that respond to new challenges and significant shifts in the digital landscape.
“The Internet and related digital technologies have opened new ways for children to communicate, learn and play, enjoy music, and engage in a vast array of cultural, educational and skill-enhancing activities. Yet, they have also exposed them to a range of content, contact and harmful conduct online,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao at the launch today.
Zhao argued that the question of how to ensure children’s online safety in the age of COVID-19 is now more pressing than ever before, stressing that the new Guidelines on Child Online Protection are a very timely tool to safeguard the well-being, integrity, and safety of our children, our most precious gift.
The new guidelines were re-designed from the ground up to reflect the significant shifts in the digital landscape in which children find themselves, such as the Internet of Things, connected toys, online gaming, robotics, machine learning and artificial intelligence.
In addition, this new edition addresses an important lacuna: the situation faced by children with disabilities, for whom the online world offers a particularly crucial lifeline to full and fulfilling social participation. Consideration of the special needs of migrant children and other vulnerable groups has also been included.
The 2020 Guidelines consist of four parts tailored to key audiences: children, parents and educators, industry and policymakers.
The guidelines for children are available in a child-friendly format and they consist of three resources: a storybook for children under nine, a workbook for children aged 9 to 11, and a social media campaign and microsite for children and young people aged 12 to 18. These resources help children learn how to manage risks online, while at the same time empowering them to exercise their rights online and engage in opportunities that the Internet presents to them.
The guidelines for parents and educators serve as a practical tool to help them to effectively support children and young people’s interaction with the online world, to sensitize families to the potential risks and threats and help cultivate a healthy and empowering online environment at home and in the classroom. They emphasize the importance of open communication and ongoing dialogue with children, to create a safe space where young users feel empowered to raise concerns.
The guidelines for industry aim at supporting industry players in the development of their internal COP policies. They highlight key areas, such as integrating child rights considerations into all appropriate corporate policies and management processes; developing standard processes to handle child sexual abuse material; creating a safer and age-appropriate online environment; educating children, carers and educators about children’s safety and the responsible use of information and communication technologies (ICTs); and promoting digital technology as a mode for increasing civic engagement.
The guidelines for policymakers serve as a solid foundation on which to develop inclusive, multi-stakeholder national strategies, through open consultations and dialogues with children, to develop better-targeted measures and more efficient actions. ITU and its partners sought to create a highly usable, flexible and adaptable framework firmly based on international standards and shared goals, particularly the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.