Experts from all over the world were hosted by the two internet giants at their European headquarters on 18/19 April 2018 to discuss a breadth of issues around child safety and to show their latest developments as well as innovations in the pipeline. Speakers included experts, researchers, bloggers, users and representatives of Facebook, Google and YouTube. Parents International was invited to be part of the panel on empowering and educating parents for digital parenting.
The event was kicked off at just the right tone by Dr. Geoffrey Shannon, child protection lawyer from Ireland emphasising that protection should mean empowerment building resilience of children, parents and professionals. The key is to provide as much information as possible in an age-appropriate way. We need to understand that children are not passive bystanders in the digital world, and their physical and emotional well-being should be paramount in all actions taken. This should not be done by introducing restrictions of access for children, but strict prosecution for offenders.
Referring to the current debates around the age of digital consent he rather emphasised – very much in line with what organised parents have been advocating for – the systematic application of the right to be forgotten, especially in the case of minors. Policing the online world is not the job of parents, but that of social media companies. He recalled that age verification technology only gives a false sense of security.
Not surprisingly he highlighted that education is key for internet safety. He demanded that online safety should be part of the core curriculum, and he also emphasised the need for teacher training that leads to abilities for supporting children. Digital literacy should get its required place in formal education, too.
Both companies introduced tools developed for parents:
There was a presentation for mostly US use of tools that are in line with COPPA and can be used by under-13 US children. There needs to be a discourse about child safety without violating the rights of the child ensured by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child – in the case of internet the right to information, play, education, peaceful assembly, freedom of expression to name a few. The providers – although they are US companies, and thus in their native country context these rights are not ensured and protected – seem to be open to continuing this discussion with us, the representative of parents worldwide.
A number of interesting initiatives targeting children – by the two giants or supported by them – were also introduced. We will go in-depth introducing some of them in the coming months.
The first will most likely be Parent Zone UK, a great organisation that wishes to join Parents International. We are ready to internationalise their efforts.