IGF 2022 WS #252 Building a safe & trustworthy digital world for all children

Time
Friday, 2nd December, 2022 (10:45 UTC) - Friday, 2nd December, 2022 (11:45 UTC)
Room
Large Briefing Room

Organizer 1: Private Sector, Eastern European Group
Organizer 2: Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Speaker 1: Mariela Reiman, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)

Additional Speakers

Francesca Gottschalk, Policy Analyst, OECD;

Rachel Cooper, Education Specialist, UNICEF;

Simon Morrison, Senior Policy Manager, Amazon;

Thoko Miya, Project Manager, Girlhype Coders Academy;

 

Format

Round Table - Circle - 60 Min

Policy Question(s)
  • What are the building blocks for a safe, trustworthy and engaging online environment for children? What are the policy measures needed to establish such an environment?

  • What are the digital skills that children will need to navigate the internet and how/when should they be taught?

  • What are the appropriate devices for children to have access to? What are the key strategies to follow in order to design such tools?

  • What is the role that the private sector should have in setting and implementing these important measures?


Connection with previous messages 

This workshop is closely connected to several of the IGF 2021 Katowice Messages, in particular, the ones related to “economic and social inclusion and human rights”, “universal access and meaningful connectivity” and “trust, security and stability”. The workshop links with last year conversations regarding the need to bring the unconnected online, with a special focus on children as a way to ensure that future generations are equipped to reap the benefits this transformation can bring, that all children and young people are learning and acquiring the knowledge and skills they need to support a sustainable future. As such, it also connects deeply with the agreed need to build a trustworthy, secure, and stable digital environment, for everyone.


 

SDGs

1. No Poverty
4. Quality Education
5. Gender Equality
8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
10. Reduced Inequalities

Targets: The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) call for several advances by the year 2030. Although information communication technologies (ICT) are cited as specific targets in only four of the SDGs (4, 5, 9 and 17), we believe ICT and digital technologies play a role in the realization of all of the SDGs by equipping populations with tools to relieve poverty, access education, achieve gender parity, provide basic healthcare and financial services, conserve ecosystems and reduce CO2 emissions, economic growth or increase their resilience in the face of global crises – just to name a few. The achieve of sustainable development relies, more than ever, on the existence of secure and resilient digital networks. A safe digital environment vital to maintain the proper functioning of our economies and societies and protect lives and livelihoods across the globe, which also links the event with core SDGs as 1 and 8. Importantly, this workshop is also intimately related with SDG 10 because it focuses on the need to ensure equal access that children and young people.


Description

Connectivity has rapidly become one of the most defining features of our everyday lives, the way we study, work, do business, consume content or connect with our communities. A recent report suggests that the digital economy is worth US $11.5 trillion globally, equivalent to 15.5% of global GDP, and that it has grown two and a half times faster than global GDP over the past 15 years. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are also transforming essential social services, such as education and health care, as well as the ways in which people interact with their governments. In this context, it is imperative to ensure that future generations are equipped to reap the benefits this transformation can bring, that all children and young people are learning and acquiring the knowledge and skills they need to support a sustainable future. At the same time a joint UNICEF-ITU report estimates that 2.2 billion — or two-thirds of children and young people aged 25 years or less — do not have internet access at home with significant inequities between countries, regions, wealth groups and urban-rural settings. But bringing children and young people online requires a lot more than expanding connectivity. While the Internet offers many opportunities for learning, communication, creativity and entertainment, it also opens up certain risks to vulnerable users such as children. It is imperative to ensure a safe and trustworthy environment for children engaging with new technologies and spending time online. Developing such an environment requires multistakeholder cooperation to foster appropriate policy, legal and regulatory environments, responsible practices by all stakeholders online as well as ensuring relevant capacity building and skills development. This workshop will discuss these elements of building a safe and trustworthy online environment for children, as well as the roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders in fostering such an environment.


About the speakers

  • Ms Baratang Miya, Founder of Girlhype Coders Academy;
  • Ms Catherine Teitelbaum, Principal, Family Trust for Amazon Kids;
  • Ms Francesca Gottschalk, Policy Analyst, OECD;
  • Ms Mariela Reiman, Founding Member and Director at Chicos.net;
  • Ms Rachel Cooper, Education Specialist, UNICEF;
  • Mr Simon Morrison, Senior Policy Manager, Amazon;
  • Ms Thoko Miya, Project Manager, Girlhype Coders Academy;

 

Expected Outcomes

 

The workshop will provide participants with an improved understanding of both the policy, technical and skilling elements necessary to build a safe and trustworthy online environment for children. In order to achieve those goals, and given the business community's unique role and perspective, the workshop will feature ideas on how to best interact with policymakers to promote safe business practices regarding the presence of children on the Internet. The summary of the workshop will feature a list of initiatives, resources or case studies mentioned by speakers and participants and will provide a menu of good practices for policy approaches. Lastly, the workshop will aim to highlight areas for future action and potential questions to be explored in future IGF sessions. 


Reference documents


 

Online Participation

Join the meeting online via Zoom. Please make sure that you:

  1. Register to the IGF;
  2. Add this session to your schedule to be provided with the link to connect;
  3. Log-in (or create) a standard Zoom account to be able to access the meeting link;

 

Key Takeaways (* deadline 2 hours after session)

While the Internet offers many opportunities for learning, communication, creativity & entertainment 2/3s of the world’s children don’t have internet access at home.

Going online is essential for future generations to reap the benefits of digital transformation & support a sustainable future. But bringing children online requires more than expanding connectivity: it needs to respond to specific risks. Designing digital products, services, & programs for children must consider their specific needs, context & ability.

Call to Action (* deadline 2 hours after session)

It is imperative to ensure a safe and trustworthy environment for children engaging with new technologies and spending time online.

Developing such an environment requires multistakeholder cooperation to foster appropriate policy, legal and regulatory environments, responsible practices by all stakeholders online as well as ensuring relevant capacity building and skills development.

Session Report (* deadline 26 October) - click on the ? symbol for instructions

Introduction

Connectivity has rapidly become one of the most defining features of our everyday lives, the way we study, work, do business, consume content or connect with our communities. A recent report suggests that the digital economy is worth US $11.5 trillion globally, equivalent to 15.5% of global GDP, and that it has grown two and a half times faster than global GDP over the past 15 years. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are also transforming essential social services, such as education and health care, as well as the ways in which people interact with their governments.

In this context, it is imperative to ensure that future generations are equipped to reap the benefits this transformation can bring, that all children and young people are learning and acquiring the knowledge and skills they need to support a sustainable future.  But bringing children and young people online requires a lot more than expanding connectivity. While the Internet offers many opportunities for learning, communication, creativity and entertainment, it also opens up certain risks to vulnerable users such as children. It is imperative to ensure a safe and trustworthy environment for children engaging with new technologies and spending time online.

Key takeaways

The session presented a multidisciplinary standpoint on the policy, technical and skilling elements necessary to build a safe and trustworthy online environment for children. From the business community's unique role and perspective, the session delved into an exchange of ideas on how to best interact with policymakers to promote safe business practices in safely connecting children to the Internet. In particular, the discussions showcased solutions in the development of age-appropriate products and devices to enable trusted connectivity for children, and providing meaningful connectivity for children through the necessary skills and capabilities. Speakers mentioned initiatives such as:

  • Amazon Kids provides child-appropriate content experiences through curated and filtered services. There Amazon Kids+ subscription service offers entirely hand-picked, prescreened and filtered content, which parents can further curate. Amazon Kids is developed in partnerships with experts in this space, such as Family Online Safety Institute, The Digital Wellness Lab at Boston Children’s Hospital, and other groups to leverage the existing expertise as the platform is built.
  • Chicos.net has been working for 25 years to improve the well-being of children in Latin America. Their Historias para armar digital platform invites children from 8 to 11 years old to create their own stories with digital media, with the aim of stimulating the development of 21st century socioemotional and literacy skills. The initiative provides answers to the plurality of socioeconomic contexts in Latin America: it offers free resources that can be used with or without connectivity, proposing both online and analogic activities and without digital devices. Since its launch, Historias Para Armar has reached more than 20,000 teachers and 800,000 children throughout the region.
  • The African Girls Code project based in South Africa is working on empowering and enabling girls to enter into the ICT and STEM related industries. The organisation aims to ensure that in the future women and girls in Africa are included in these industries, through learning interventions, whether on the ground or at the policy and intergovernmental level, collaboration with corporate and private sector partners, civil society organisations and running a number of skills development programmes for youth, for women and girls on their campus.
  • DotAsia is supporting a new top-level domain, DotKids, which is currently being launched. They work closely with different parties to try to maintain the platform with a protective environment while allowing children to explore more freely.

Throughout the discussion, the role of education was referenced as a pivotal element in building children’s comprehension of the digital environment, their digital skills, and capacity to understand and manage risks – as well as how the level of comprehension, skills and capacities should be taken into account when designing devices, services or policies for children online. Against this background, the work of the OECD 21st Century Children project as well as the OECD Typology of Risks were referenced, which respectively look at how education systems play a key role in empowering children to navigate the digital environment safely and effectively, and an overview of the risk landscape, outlining risk categories and their manifestations. The session also allowed for stocktaking on the current work and research on connecting vulnerable groups, especially children with disabilities and/or from underprivileged social-economic backgrounds.

Speakers noted  the importance of including children in the product design process, in services, programmes or even policies targeted at them.  Furthermore, recognising the diversity of children from different contexts, cultures, languages, ways of thinking, promoting representation of all kinds of groups, is important so that they can see themselves represented on the internet and thus break the cycle of exclusion.

Speakers also stressed the need to forge partnerships and work towards reducing digital inequalities in education and accessibility in technologies, agreeing that it takes multiple stakeholder groups to bring forward an effective solution towards a safe and trustworthy digital world.

Call to action

In pursuit of a people-centric, sustainable digitalization, policymakers must improve their understanding of how ICTs work in practice, including knowledge of the ICT ecosystem, the roles of the various stakeholders and relevant policy issues. 

Policy and regulatory mechanisms in particular, should consider the value of the entire communications and digital services ecosystem. They should be non-discriminatory, technology-neutral, and supportive of innovative business models and the development of a wide range of technologies, standards, and system architectures. 

In that regard, developing a safe and inclusive digital environment should account future generations, allowing them to reap the benefits of digital transformation and support a sustainable future. It is therefore imperative to ensure a safe and trustworthy environment for children engaging with new technologies and spending time online, considering their specific needs, context and knowledge.

Developing such an environment will require multistakeholder cooperation to foster appropriate policy, legal and regulatory environments, responsible practices by all stakeholders online as well as ensuring relevant capacity building and skills development.

Further reading