Did you know that the UNCRC has been updated to include children’s rights in the digital world…
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
General comment No. 25 (March 2021)
General Comment No. 25 (March 2021) has been adopted by the United Nations Committee. A General Comment is an authoritativedocument which sets out how the UNCRC should be interpreted and implemented by Governments and Heads of State around the world – and it applies to all political parties and for all children - whatever their circumstances. General Comment 25 (GC25) tells us that the children and young people’s 42 Rights will now apply online as they do offline.
“GC25 clarifies what the digital environment means for children’s civil rights and freedoms, their rights to privacy, non-discrimination, protection, education, play and more.”(1)
The United Nations Committee (UNC) have instructed Governments to make rules to keep children safe online …
The UNC have led by example and implemented Article 12 by consulting with children & young people from all around the world to identify their needs and wishes for online and technological play – and they have listened to them - considered their views, opinions and ideas and devised and adopted this comment. This will have a positive impact on the children’s confidence & emotional well-being and will assure them that they are being listened to – their voices have been heard - and they have made a difference!
“To those who say children’s rights apply online as offline but are not sure how to do this – read General Comment 25! To those who worry that it’s too difficult or expensive or impractical to realise children’s rights in the digital environment – read General Comment 25! To the 700 children we consulted around the world, and the many others they spoke for, this is for you!” Professor Sonia Livingstone OBE, Steering Group Member
GC25 is momentous for children’s rights, it raises awareness of the risk’s children face online and is a significant breakthrough for all those working to protect children online. It recognises that children have the right to play online without being exploited, or have their personal information taken and shared with others, or be targeted by advertisements or online promotions; and itemphasises that digital Play should be safe, relaxing and age appropriate.
“Children want – and need – to be a part of the digital world; 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 General Comment can ensure that they do so in a safe and rights respecting way…” (2)
Technology and being online is very important to our children and young people, they want and need to use the internet to play, meet with friends, do their homework, find info & advice, watch videos and keep in touch etc. – and they need to feel safe and secure!
The digital world is constantly evolving and we must catch up and keep up– it is a playworker responsibility to keep children safe and secure online and in order for us to effectively support the children’s technological and online play, we must develop our digital skills and raise our own awareness of the online dangers and inappropriate sites etc. We must empower children to take responsibility for their own safety by giving them the tools and skills to stay safe online. We should also raise parent’s awareness and understanding of the online world.
‘‘…the General Comment underscores the need to anticipate future trends, both relating to the opportunities and risks children may face online. It highlights the criticality of establishing safe, empowering online environments for all children, preventing child abuse online before it happens, and reconfiguring the existing internet – which was not created with children’s safety in mind. with others etc.’’ (3)
GC25 will be welcomed and implemented by Playworkers who recognise the importance and benefits of technological and digital play; and the significance of keeping children safe online. It will support us to effectively advocate for children’s rights and their online safety. It will aid us in challenging apps or websites who target children for advertising and promotion or take their personal information and share it etc.
We will still need to be vigilant and we will still need to educate our children and young people about the dangers of playing and being online; but it is reassuring that from now on Governments and local authorities must ensure that children are safe from any forms of online violence, bullying, inappropriate pictures and videos, victimisation and ensure that games are age related etc.