This school event consisted of a talk (a lecture), debate and a workshop on youth/children’s digital rights.
Professor Andy Phippen’s lecture reviewed recent policy and educational approaches to online safety and contrasted that with his own research with young people on how they use digital technology. He raised concerns around whether the rights of children are being ignored in the drive to ensure they are 'safe' online.
The talk was followed by a facilitated debate/discussion and closed with an activity in which pupils were asked to create their own rights charter. The charters were then judged and the best charter was awarded with a prize.
The importance of the awareness of the digital rights
This specific event/topic was highly relevant nowadays as for young people life without information and communications technology seems as unfathomable and quaint as an era before sliced bread (Rallings, 2015). They undoubtedly will receive some form of online safety education in their schools, and many will have their social lives impacted by filtering, monitoring or surveillance applied by adults in their lives justified by the need to keep them safe.
It is sometimes difficult for older generations to properly appreciate just how quickly the environment young people are growing up in today is being changed by technology. Technology, internet and digital world is building, creating and connecting local and international communities and not only influencing our daily social life, it is also shaping and changing (affecting) our working environment. The rapid uptake of digital media globally presents a range of new risks of harms to children (Third, 2016). Nonetheless, amidst the concerns about children’s online safety, new research is beginning to demonstrate and document a broad range of benefits associated with children’s online participation. The research shows that digital engagement can have benefits for children’s formal and informal learning; health and wellbeing; literacy; civic and/or political participation; play and recreation; identity; belonging; peer, family and intergenerational relationships; individual and community resilience; and consumer practices (Swist et al., 2015).
Children’s rights in the digital age are presently undermined by a mix of innocence, ignorance and media pressure. It is for the benefits of economy, society and the whole World to wake and inform the young generation of the positive/negative impact ‘the digital’ environment causes without developing a dysopian view of safeguarding which closes off many of the opportunities afforded by the digital world. Children’s wellbeing and their digital rights and awareness are interlinked and inseparable features.