IGF 2023 Open Forum #86 Child participation online: policymaking with children

Wednesday, 11th October, 2023 (05:15 UTC) - Wednesday, 11th October, 2023 (06:15 UTC)
Room C-1

Child Online Safety

Other - 60 Min
Format description: Format #8: Open Forum This format allows for different perspectives to be shared and encourages collaboration and the exchange of ideas. The Forum will be moderated both online and onsite.


Child and youth participation related to Online safety has become a priority for many stakeholders active in the fields of ICTs and children's rights. With one in three internet users being children the digital world has become a platform for them to exercise their rights, express themselves, access information, and engage in meaningful online interactions, as General Comment No. 25 by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child recognized. However, the fast-changing online environment new challenges and risks related to child online safety have emerged, which can only be addressed with children and young people as part of the solution. Child Helplines have reported an increase in the number of children reaching out to their services through online channels, whether to address risks happening online or through in person activities. Also, children and young people have been at the forefront of creating solutions to address the protection needs of their peers, many of which rely on the innovative use given to digital technologies. The importance of child participation in tackling these challenges and promoting online safety is crucial. Internet access and use have opened many doors for children and young people to express themselves, access information, communicate, and learn, and live free from violence. The more we can understand how the Internet is a means to address protection, the more we can help children and youth to be safer. ITU and the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence against children have joined forces and launched the POP: Protection through online Participation initiative, a multi-stakeholder research effort, which focuses on how children and young people use ICTs to access means of protection, when at risk of experiencing harm online or offline. Together with children and young people, the partnership works to release recommendations for policymakers, ICT Industry, child online protection professionals and children and young people to better develop, implement or access such online protection systems. Building on the evidence that children are already part of the solution when it comes to issues that affect them, ITU and partners create and work with national Child taskforces in five countries in five different regions to develop, inform, help implement and monitor national strategies and policies on Child Online Protection. Children and young peoples’ ideas have far more weight already that we may imagine in creating new spaced online – what is needed more is to allow them to be heard by decision makers. The session aims to highlight the importance of working with children when it comes to their safety and rights online and offline – helping children and youth being seen as partners, innovators and actors of change. The session will discuss the preliminary findings of the initiative’s efforts to map out child-led and youth-led online solutions that help children and young people to stay safe. It will emphasize the significance of effective coordination mechanisms both at national and global levels to recognize children's and youth’s and leadership into programs and systems that serve children and families to stay safe and access support online, as well as highlight the importance of meaningfully engaging children and youth as equal partners to strengthen safety.

Close coordination and referencing between online and onsite moderator Conduct online polls to assess how much the audience knows about the topic & what their suggestions on discussed challenges are Use video conferencing platforms to facilitate hybrid exchanges between participants. Use live interactive polling platforms like mentimeter to fuel discussions Provide a trello board space to facilitate access to information useful for understanding the topics discussed at the event Provide a housekeeping speech at the beginning of the session (everyone is on mute unless they are speaking so everyone can hear without background noise; mention if there is a chat and what content might be useful to share; confirm if the session is recorded or not)


Office The Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth Office of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Violence Against Children


Amanda Third, Western Sydney University Julie Inman Grant, eSafety Commissioner David Wright, Director of the UK Safer Internet Centres Fanny Rotino, Child Online Protection Officer, ITU Lucha Sotomayor, Office of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on Violence Against Children Hillary Bakrie, Associate Programme Officer on Youth, Innovation and Technology, Office of The Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth (on site) Liz Thomas, Director Public Policy, Digital Safety, Corporate, External & Legal Affairs, Microsoft Youth Representative

Onsite Moderator

David Wright, Director of the UK Safer Internet Centres

Online Moderator

Fanny Rotino, Child Online Protection Officer, ITU


Hillary Bakrie, Associate Programme Officer on Youth, Innovation and Technology, Office of The Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth



Targets: 4.7: Digital skills and online safety education is built on a child and human rights-based approach, emphasising the compatibility of protection from violence and harm online and the empowerment, and participation of children and youth through online means. Children and youth will be empowered to realize the full range of their rights online and offline with the help of online means. The capacity-building activities also seek to proffer participants with the relevant knowledge, skills and empowerment to participate in the creation of alternative online spaces wherein online risks, including violence are minimized and harm eventually avoided. They invite stakeholders to promote content, including peer-to-peer programmes, that are designed and shown to help children and youth develop digital skills and empower them to build respectful communities that support online safety. Digital education should be holistic and should cover data and media literacy, alongside safeguarding issues. Education should also be extended to parents/carers, educators, policymakers and the ICT industry to support their role in promoting child online safety. 16.2: Online violence against children is on the rise, and offline forms of violence continue to be a major threat to children’s wellbeing. The Covid-19 pandemic has only emphasised the urgent need to act now. While many children connected for the first time, at much younger ages and often without the necessary awareness and skills to access safely the full range of their opportunities online, significant discrepancies have become flagrant not only with children but with all relevant stakeholders when it comes to awareness, knowledge, and skills to take an active role in online safety for children. Within ITUs Global programme on child online protection, special attention is provided to digital literacy education built on a child rights-based approach. The capacity building for all relevant stakeholders including children, youth, women and girls, educators, carers, policymakers and ICT industry stakeholders, calls upon all actors to take up their responsibilities and possibilities to contribute to the creation of a safer and empowering online environment for all users. Only by building the necessary capacity with all relevant stakeholders, the global challenge of online safety for children can be addressed. Additionally, the ‘Protection through online participation’ initiative looks to better understand how children and youth access protection and safety through digital platforms, looking to help increase violence prevention and response.

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