Home > Department of Media and Communications > Research > Global Kids Online: Children′s rights in the digital age

Global Kids Online: Children′s rights in the digital age


Global Kids Online aims to advance understanding of whether and how the internet amplifies the risks of harm to children and how to optimize digital opportunities that contribute to children’s well-being. It will do this by stimulating and guiding rigorous multi-method investigations of how children around the globe use new digital, networked and mobile technologies.

An international research project has been launched by the London School of Economics (LSE), UNICEF Office of Research and EU Kids Online to develop a global research toolkit, building on the one developed by EU Kids Online, as a flexible new resource for researchers around the world in gathering evidence on children’s online risks, opportunities and rights.

Sonia Livingstone, Principal Investigator, notes that:

“Children are going online in ever greater numbers, especially in the global South, so that means policy and practice is evolving rapidly. To ensure this meets children’s needs and ensures their rights online as offline, we need good evidence to inform the lively dialogue already underway.”

As Jasmina Byrne, UNICEF Office of Research points out:

“With this kind of advance in technology comes growing concern by child rights organizations, regulators, the private sector and other stakeholders that children’s rights need to be realised online as well as offline.”

In order to employ the expertise of the research network and consider the challenges associated with researching children’s rights globally in the digital age EU Kids Online and UNICEF organized a seminar in February 2015 at LSE. Drawing on the participants’ expertise, the meeting sought to identify good practice in addition to tangible elements that could apply to the development of a global research toolkit.

Originally, EU Kids Online focused on member countries of the European Union – although it also included Russia and Turkey. Recently it has expanded to include Australia and Brazil as well as a number of other countries in Latin America. Global Kids Online is both a natural extension of the international research that has already been carried out but also a significant step forward – as the research framework will be developed in partnership with researchers and research users from the global South.

The Global Kids Online initiative will pilot the research toolkit with UNICEF offices and collaborating research institutions in Argentina, the Philippines, Serbia and South Africa. Their insights and findings will be incorporated into the research toolkit and final synthesis report.

All reports, including the research toolkit itself, methodological guides and other materials (videos, meeting reports and presentations) will become available to the international community through an open access web platform (currently under development)

The project will be managed by a Steering Group and guided by its International Advisory Group of experts representing academia, international organizations, non-profit sector and other stakeholders.


Children’s and young people’s rights in the digital age 

IAMCR 2016 Pre-conference and Global Kids Online dissemination event (26-27 July 2016 at Shaw Library, Old Building)

Full conference programme

About the conference

Concerns that children’s rights are being newly infringed rather than enhanced in the digital age are often raised by researchers, child rights’ advocates, and internet governance experts. Children’s needs and experiences in the digital age are often neglected in high-level debates about global internet provision and governance and children’s rights are treated as a minority interest and seen as demanding exceptional treatment from adult society. Further, current debates frequently emphasise the risks children potentially face online and underline their right to protection but much less debate focuses on children’s provision and participation rights and the opportunities children may encounter online.

The conference sought to unpack the ways digital media intersect – both positively and negatively – with children’s rights today and to reflect on how children’s rights might provide a meaningful counterpoint from which to consider the role of ‘the digital’ in advancing human rights more broadly.

Convenors: Sonia Livingstone, Amanda Third, and Mariya Stoilova

For more details visit the conference website.


The Office of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Violence against Children organised a global expert meeting on bullying and cyber-bullying, held on 9-10 May at the UNICEF-Innocenti Research Center, Florence.

Sonia Livingstone presented the Global Kids Online project at the meeting, drawing on findings from EU Kids Online and Kids Online Brazil. Among other things, these show how cyberbullying represents a growing proportion of bullying overall, as well as the value of adopting a cross-country comparative approach.

Sonia’s slides are here.


Global Kids Online at WSIS 2016

Sonia Livingstone and Jasmina Byrne presented Global Kids Online at the World Summit on the Information Society in Geneva, May 2016, in a session entitled Children’s Rights in the Digital Age. Also presenting were Alexandre Barbosa from Cetic.br and Latin American Kids Online, Nevine Tewfik from the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology in Egypt, and Esperanza Magpantay from the ITU. 

At stake was the fact that, although children are often celebrated as the internet pioneers or ‘digital natives’, in most countries it is not even known how many children have internet access, let alone whether its use is beneficial or harmful for them. The Global Kids Online framework offers a new and comprehensive approach to improving the evidence base for policy makers at national and international levels, in collaboration with partners worldwide.

For Sonia’s powerpoint slides, see here.

For session report, see here

For images, see here and here

For session information and all slides, see here.

For WSIS report, see here


LSE Department of Media and Communications convened a meeting of Global Kids Online ahead of launch of global toolkit for research on children’s digital experience.

LSE’s Department of Media and Communications and UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti convened the second Global Kids Online network meeting at LSE on 21 and 22 March 2016. The network presented the lessons learned from international research findings on children’s internet use and developed research and policy recommendations for the launch of the toolkit in late 2016.

The meeting brought together close to 40 academics, researchers, and UNICEF staff from 14 different countries, including Argentina, Bulgaria, Ghana, India, Montenegro, the Philippines, Serbia, and South Africa, as well as representatives of the UK Home Office and WeProtect . 

You can access the report from the meeting hereFor more information on this meeting see #globalkidsonline and here.

One in three Report

One in three: internet governance and children’s rights

As part of the Global Commission on Internet Governance, authors Sonia Livingstone, John Carr and Jasmina Byrne examine whether and how internet governance supports children’s rights in the digital age. First observing that children constitute one in three people globally, and also one in three users of the internet, they then review the evidence on children’s online risks and opportunities in order to pinpoint the internet governance challenges ahead. The paper concludes with six conclusions and recommendations about how to embed recognition of children’s rights in the activities and policies of international Internet governance institutions.

Read the reportblog post and article in The Guardian


Call for Papers:  Children’s and young people’s rights in the digital age

IAMCR 2016 Pre-conference and Global Kids Online dissemination event

26-27 July, 2016 

This conference seeks to unpack the ways digital media intersect – both positively and negatively – with children’s rights today and to reflect on how children’s rights might provide a meaningful counterpoint from which to consider the role of ‘the digital’ in advancing human rights more broadly. To catalyse the debates, we now call for short paper proposals analysing key dilemmas or tensions shaping children’s rights in the digital age. We welcome empirical and/or practitioner pieces

Convenors: Sonia Livingstone, Amanda Third and Mariya Stoilova

Abstracts due (250 words): 15 February, 2016

Notification of acceptance: 30 March 2016

Download full call for papers

Photo Sonia

In a lecture at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania in October 2015, entitled "Children's Rights in the Digital Age: Paradoxes and Problems," Sonia Livingstone confronts unfolding debates over child rights and internet governance, with an account of the everyday messy realities of children’s lives on and offline amidst wider debates over the increasing mediation and management of identity, learning, privacy, and relationships.


18-19 September 2015: An inception meeting of the Global Kids Online project was held on 18-19 September 2015 in Florence, Italy. The meeting was hosted by UNICEF Office of Research-Innocenti and brought together the international partners on the project. Participants in the meeting included members of the LSE research team, led by Prof Sonia Livingstone, staff from UNICEF Office of Research, UNICEF Country Offices participating in the research project (Argentina, the Philippines, Serbia and South Africa), their academic partners, as well as collaborators from the EU Kids Online project.

The aim of the meeting was to review the situation in participating pilot countries regarding knowledge about children’s internet use and examine best ways to gather further comparative evidence on the impact of the internet on children’s lives globally. The international partners on the project and a number of invited experts also discussed the possible methodological challenges of doing the cross-national comparative research and planned the development of a global research toolkit, building on the one developed by EU Kids Online.

Inception Report Thumbnail

7 September 2015: Inception report

1st August 2015: An international research project has been launched by the London School of Economics (LSE), UNICEF Office of Research and EU Kids Online to develop a global research toolkit, building on the one developed by EU Kids Online, as a flexible new resource for researchers around the world in gathering evidence on children’s online risks, opportunities and rights.

Global Kids Online Steering Group

The role of the Steering Group is to maintain regular contact and to bear primary responsibility for the effective delivery of the project objectives. Members are drawn from the key constituents that comprise the project overall.

Members of the Steering Group

Jasmina Byrne,  UNICEF Office of Research-Innocenti, Global Kids Online PI

Sonia Livingstone LSE, Global Kids Online PI

Patrizia Benvenuti, UNICEF South Africa

Patrick Burton, Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention, South Africa Pilot Partner

Alexandra Chernyavskaya, LSE

Vesna Dejanovic, UNICEF Serbia

Ellen Helsper, LSE

Daniel Kardefelt Winther, UNICEF Office of Research-Innocenti

Mary Ann Ladia, University of the Philippines, Philippines Pilot Partner

Sarah Norton Staal, UNICEF Philippines

Kjartan Ólafsson, EU Kids Online and University of Akureyri

Mariya Stoilova, LSE

Maria Jose Ravalli, UNICEF Argentina, Argentina Pilot Partner

Lucinda Platt, LSE

Cristina Ponte, EU Kids Online and New University of Lisbon

Dragan Popadic, University of Belgrade, Serbia Pilot Partner

Global Kids Online Expert Group

The role of the Expert Group is to serve as a source of methodological expertise in various domains of social research and to offer technical assistance to the researchers in the participating countries.

Members of the Expert Group

Kerry Albright, UNICEF OoR

Shakuntala Banaji, LSE, UK

Alexandre Barbosa, Brazilian Network Information Center, Brazil

Gabrielle Berman, UNICEF OoR

Thoroddur Bjarnason, University of Akureyri, Iceland

Jasmina Byrne, UNICEF OoR

Uwe Hasebrink, Hans-Bredow-Institut, Germany

Daniel Kardefelt Winther, UNICEF OoR

Dorothea Kleine, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK

Sonia Livingstone, LSE, UK

Kjartan Ólafsson, University of Akureyri, Iceland

Lucinda Platt, LSE, UK

Sammia Poveda, Royal Holloway University of London, UK 

Ethel Quayle, University of Edinburgh, UK

Amanda Third, Western Sydney University, Australia


Global Kids Online International Advisory Group

The role of the International Advisory Group is to serve as a source of expertise in various domains – research, public policy, and business. It will advise the Global Kids Online Steering Group on the overall design and implementation of the project and its methodological tools, on the clarity and coherence of the project deliverables, and on the dissemination of the acquired knowledge.

Members of the International Advisory Group

Alexandre Barbosa, Cetic.br, Brazil

Yves Boillot, Orange, France

Bu Wei, Research Center for Children and Media, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, China

Monica Bulger, Data & Society Research Institute, USA

Sandra Cortesi, Berkman Center for Internet and Society, USA

Leen d'Haenens, KU Leuven, Belgium

David Finkelhor, Crimes against Children Research Center, University of New Hampshire, USA

Deborah Fox, Kantar, UK

Dorothy Gordon, Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT (AITI-KACE), Ghana

Uwe Hasebrink, Research Center for Media and Communication, Hans-Bredow-Institut, Germany

Regina Jensdottir, Head of the Children’s Rights Division of the Council of Europe

Joe Khalil, Associate Professor in Residence, Communication Program, Northwestern University in Qatar

Dorothea Kleine, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK

Marie-Laure Lemineur, ECPAT International, Thailand

Sun Sun Lim, National University of Singapore, Singapore

Hans Martens, Insafe, Belgium

Marie-Claude Martin, Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), Canada

Giovanna Mascheroni, Università Cattolica of Milan, Italy

Andrea Millwood-Hargrave, International Institute of Communications, UK

Brian O’Neill, Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland

Jonghwi Park, UNESCO Bangkok, Thailand

David Smahel, Masaryk University, Czech Republic

Clara Sommarin, UNICEF New York, USA

Elisabeth Staksrud, University of Oslo, Norway

Nevine Tewfik, Research, Studies and Policies Bureau, IR Division of MCIT, Egypt

Amanda Third, University of Western Sydney, Australia

Constance Yowell, Collective Shift, USA