How to ensure a safe online environment for children

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the partner and member of UNESCO IITE Initiative “Combat COVID-19: Keep learning. Together we are on the move!”, this June launched its new 2020 Guidelines on Child Online Protection (COP). That is to say they consist of recommendations for children, parents and educators, industry and policymakers on a safe and empowering online environment for children.

Internet and related digital technologies indeed have opened new ways for children to communicate, learn and engage in an array of skill-enhancing activities. Yet, they have also exposed them to a range of content, contact and harmful conduct online.

The question of how to ensure children’s online safety in the age of COVID-19 is now more pressing than ever before. ITU’s new Guidelines on Child Online Protection are a very timely tool to safeguard the well-being, integrity, and safety of our children, our most precious gift.

Houlin Zhao, ITU Secretary-General 

The 2020 Guidelines consist of four parts tailored to key audiences: children, parents and educators, industry and policymakers.

The guidelines for children are available in a child-friendly format and they consist of three resources:

  • a story book for children under nine
  • a workbook for children aged 9 to 11
  • a social media campaign and microsite for children and young people aged 12 to 18

The guidelines for parents and educators serve as a practical tool to help them to effectively support children and young people’s interaction with the online world, to sensitize families to the potential risks and threats and help cultivate a healthy and empowering online environment at home and in the classroom.

The guidelines for industry aim at supporting industry players in the development of their internal COP policies. Hence, they highlight key areas, such as integrating child rights into all appropriate corporate policies and creating a safer and age-appropriate online environment. The policies also encompass education of young people, carers and educators about children’s safety and the responsible use of ICTs, and promotion of digital technology as a mode for increasing civic engagement.

The guidelines for policymakers serve as a solid foundation on which to develop inclusive, multi-stakeholder national strategies. This can be achieved through open consultations and dialogues with children, to develop better-targeted and more efficient actions.

ITU Regional Office for CIS

On August 14, 2020 the Guidelines have become available in Russian language. ITU Regional Office for CIS has updated the “Distance learning course on the safe use of Internet resources”. More information can be found at the Russian version of this news.

Download 2020 Guidelines on Child Online Protection (COP) in all official languages of the UN.