As broadband connectivity reaches ever more remote parts of the world, and digital devices become increasingly portable and affordable, any understanding of children’s daily lives necessarily includes a digital component. Regardless of whether children are at home or at school, in transit, playing or studying, digital devices are becoming an increasingly integral part of their daily life. Although this phenomenon is not restricted to industrialised countries or urban areas, these are frequently sites where digital use starts.
While digital engagement is rapidly spreading throughout the world, this fast-paced, widespread growth often occurs far ahead of any understanding of what constitutes safe and positive use in digital contexts. Parents, caregivers and teachers are struggling to keep up with continually advancing technologies. Likewise, technology use is consistently outpacing legislation and regulation. This environment presents challenges for safeguarding children as their use of digital devices often precedes an effective rights framework or challenges existing laws when applied to the digital environment.
What research is and should be conducted to understand whether and how children’s rights are being enhanced or undermined in the digital age, on a global basis? What research do stakeholders need, and how can this be provided? To address such questions, the meeting extended the collaboration among the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), EU Kids Online and UNICEF.
This is the report of the seminar held on 12-14 February 2015.