Digital technology and children’s rights
Digital technology has already changed our world – and as more and more children go online, it is also impacting their experience of childhood. More than 9 out of 10 children in the UK aged 5–15 go online, and this increases with age, ranging from 52% of 3–4 year olds to 99% of 12–15 year olds. Children in the UK are also among the youngest in Europe to go online – at an average age of 8.
With digital technologies playing such a central role in children’s lives, it is so important to listen to the views of children and young people about how best government, businesses, and civil society organisations protect, respect, and support children’s rights online.
Participatory workshop with children, young people and UNICEF
In August 2019, GenerationR Liverpool Young Person’s Advisory Group (YPAG) and CYP MedTech hosted a workshop delivered by UNICEF to inform the drafting of a new General Comment by the UN Committee on the Right of the Child on ‘Children’s Rights and the Digital Environment’. 15 young people (aged 11 to 19) from GenerationR Liverpool YPAG, Alder Hey Children and Young Person’s Forum, University of Liverpool YPAG and Liverpool Schools Parliament took part.
The workshop outputs highlight the complexities and diversity of the participants’ experiences of the digital environment. Throughout group discussions about the positive and negative impacts of the digital technology on the lives of children and young people, there was a clear message about the:
- lack of accessible information and guidance on navigating the digital environment;
- a general mistrust in media, technology companies and governments in ensuring that children and young people have positive experiences with technology.
Many participants expressed a keen interest in learning more about online safety and how to understand and control how their data is being used. It was apparent throughout the workshops that, as digital technology has an increasing impact on childhood experiences, there is a clear need for accessible tools and information to support these experiences to be safe, positive and healthy.
Widening participation and involvement of children and young people in NIHR CYPMedTech activities
This workshop was an opportunity for children and young people to have a say on and have the opportunity to discuss and share their experiences and views of digital technology.
CYPMedTech believe that listening to and acting upon the views of children, young people and families is fundamental to the successful development and delivery of technologies for child health. We need to listen to the concerns highlighted by children and young people and the production of accessible information co-produced by children and young people is an excellent starting point for the CYPMedTech team to consider.