The European Commission (EC) has set out a plan to give children the digital skills and tools they need to benefit fully and safely from the digital world.
The new strategy is to build up the market for interactive, creative and educational content online, in a partnership between the European Commission and Member States, mobile phone operators, handset manufacturers and providers of social networking services.
Although the Internet was not created for children, 75% of children use the internet, a third of them on mobiles, whereas varying national approaches mean that children across the European Union (EU) have different levels of empowerment and protection online.
To overcome these hurdles, the EC has outlined a range of measures, which will be implemented by different means including industry self-regulation, which should lead to flexible and fast solutions in this field. Actions are grouped around four main goals:
- To stimulate the production of creative and educational online content for children and develop platforms which give access to age-appropriate content;
- To scale up awareness raising and teaching of online safety in all EU schools to develop children's digital and media literacy and self-responsibility online;
- Creating a safe environment for children where parents and children are given the tools necessary for ensuring their protection online - such as easy-to-use mechanisms to report harmful content and conduct online, transparent default age-appropriate privacy settings or user-friendly parental controls;
- Combating child sexual abuse material online by promoting research into, and use of, innovative technical solutions by police investigations.
Keeping children safe online is a key commitment of the Digital Agenda for Europe and the measures outlined in the strategy build on ongoing EU actions in this field.