Children’s Commissioner calls for ‘digital citizenship’ classes

A new report from the Children’s Commissioner for England says that children need to have more control over their digital lives. She calls for a digital ombudsman and for classes in school that would teach children to be ‘smart digital citizens’.

Children are being left to roam the digital world without proper guidance or supervision according to a new report from the Children’s Commissioner for England.

The Growing Up Digital report follows a year-long investigation into children’s digital privacy and shines a light on the unfathomable social media terms and conditions which children are routinely signing up to, but not understanding. As part of the project the Children’s Commissioner turned Instagram’s 17 pages of legal jargon into one plain-English page, upon reading which children were surprised to learn that their private data and content could be accessed and sold for profit.

As well as highlighting the need for social media giants to make their Ts&Cs more child-friendly and transparent, Anne Longfield is calling for the establishment of a digital ombudsman to provide much-needed recourse for children who want harmful content removed from the internet. The Children’s Commissioner also needs to be granted powers to take oversight of the complaints children make on social media.

Internet ‘force for good with inherent risks’

There is also a pressing need to provide children with structured classes on becoming smart digital citizens. The internet is an incredible force for good, providing amazing opportunities to learn, explore and engage with others, but we need to take important steps to ensure that children and young people are well equipped to overcome its inherent risks.

The report has been endorsed by a number of independent children’s advocates including the NSPCC, Childnet and Barnardo’s.

Read the full report, Growing Up Digital here

Author: Adrian Voce

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