“We would like the government, technology companies and teachers to help us [to] manage untrustworthy information online.”- the children consulted during the preparation of General Comment no. 25 of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
On Wednesday, 24 March 2021, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (Committee) officially published a new General Comment 25 on children’s rights in relation to the digital environment, taking into consideration certain key requirements and recommendations of the Child Rights Centre, relating to the commercial advertising and marketing, child rights impact assessments, right to privacy, independent monitoring, remedies and right to education.
The digital environment is becoming increasingly important in most aspects of a child’s life, especially during the pandemic caused by COVID-19, as social functions, including education, increasingly rely on digital technologies. It provides new opportunities for the realization of the rights of the child, but also poses a risk of their violation or abuse.
By adopting the General Comment no. 25 on children’s rights in relation to the digital environment, the Committee explicitly prescribes that the rights of the child must be respected in the digital environment, and provides guidelines to states on relevant legislative, political and other measures to be fully respected, protected and exercised in the digital environment. Also, this document raises awareness of the risks that children face on the Internet, encouraging all those responsible from the public and private sectors to take measures to address them.
It is important that states parties disseminate information and conduct campaigns to raise awareness of children’s rights in the digital environment and provide educational programmes for children, parents/guardians, the general public and decision-makers to improve their knowledge of children’s rights in relation to opportunities and risks associated with digital products and services.
States should ensure that digital literacy is learned at school, as part of primary education programme, from the pre-school level and throughout all years of schooling. Curricula should also include critical understanding, guidelines on how to find reliable sources of information, and identify misinformation and other forms of biased or false content, including sexual and reproductive health issues, human rights, and the rights of the child in the digital environment.
The Republic of Serbia, as one of the State parties to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, is obliged to implement the provisions and formally report on the process of implementation of this document, so that children can fully enjoy their rights on the digital environment.
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