The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) will launch new 2020 Guidelines on Child Online Protection (COP), a comprehensive set of concrete recommendations for children, parents and educators, industry and policy-makers on how to contribute to the development of a safe and empowering online environment for children and young people.
The COP Guidelines serve as a blueprint that can be adapted to national or local customs and laws.
The new guidelines were re-designed from the ground up to reflect the significant shifts in the digital landscape in which children find themselves, such as the Internet of Things, connected toys, online gaming, robotics, machine learning and artificial intelligence.
In addition, this new edition addresses an important lacuna: the situation faced by children with disabilities, for whom the online world offers a particularly crucial lifeline to full and fulfilling social participation. Consideration of the special needs of migrant children and other vulnerable groups has also been included.
Today one in three children use the Internet. In developing countries, children and young people are leading Internet usage, and it is estimated that over the next five years, this population will more than double.
In addition, the COVID-19 global pandemic saw a surge in the number of children joining the online world for the first time, to support their studies and maintain social interaction. Due to the pandemic, many younger children began interacting online much earlier than their parents might have planned.
At the same time, the need to juggle work commitments left many parents unable to supervise their children, leaving them at risk of accessing inappropriate content or being targeted by criminals in the production of child sexual abuse material.
With this context in mind, it is clear that more than at any time before, keeping children safe online requires a collaborative and coordinated international response, demanding the active involvement and support of a broad number of stakeholders – from industry stakeholders including private-sector platforms, service providers and network operators, to governments and civil society.
Accordingly, in developing these new guidelines, ITU and its partners sought to create a highly usable, flexible and adaptable framework firmly based on international standards and shared goals – particularly the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
The Guidelines also aim at supporting children and their entourage by informing and engaging children, raising awareness on interned safety related issues, and supporting the development of digital skills and digital literacy.
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