The International Telecommunication Union has designed a new set of recommendations for the protection of children and young people online.
The 2020 Guidelines on Child Online Protection, according to ITU will assist children, parents and educators, industry and policymakers to contribute to the development of a safe online environment for children.
ITU said the Internet and related digital technologies had opened new ways for children to communicate, learn and play, enjoy music, and engage in a vast array of cultural, educational and skill-enhancing activities.
The union noted that the Internet had also exposed them to a range of content, contact and harmful conduct online.
“The question of how to ensure children’s online safety in the age of COVID-19 is now more pressing than ever before,” ITU Secretary-General, Houlin Zhao, said.
He added, “ITU’s new Guidelines on Child Online Protection are a very timely tool to safeguard the wellbeing, integrity, and safety of our children, our most precious gift.”
ITU said the new guidelines were redesigned from the scratch to reflect the significant shifts in the digital landscape such as the Internet of Things, connected toys, online gaming, robotics, machine learning and artificial intelligence.
It said the new guidelines addressed the situation faced by children with disabilities, the special needs of migrant children and other vulnerable groups.
United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence Against Children, Dr Najat Maalla M’jid, said the behaviour of offenders and criminal networks is constantly evolving.
He said, “It is therefore imperative that child protection systems evolve as fast or even faster.
“A worldwide and cross-border problem requires a multi-stakeholder, multi-sectoral and child-rights centered approach that brings all key actors, including children, together to ensure a stronger and proactive child protection online.”
The new COP Guidelines are designed to serve as a blueprint that can be adapted and used by different countries and stakeholders in a way that is consistent with national and local customs and laws, the Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau, Doreen Bogdan-Martin, said.
Bogdan-Martin said, “They can be considered as an initial step in engaging all relevant stakeholders – governments, the private sector, parents and teachers’ associations, and children themselves – in discussions around targeted measures and actions to create a safer online environment.”
It said resources in the form of story books, workbooks, social media campaign and microsites