Children have rights. They have been enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child since 1989. These include, for example, the right to health and the right to play and leisure. But a lot has changed since then. Children grow up differently than they did 20 or 30 years ago. Digital media now play a significant role from the earliest ages. In terms of dealing with media in the family, this means for you to inform yourself about your child’s media use, to seek discussion, to be a trustworthy contact person and to make decisions again and again, which you should coordinate with your child depending on his or her age. In general, all children’s rights also apply in the digital space. However, there are some rights that play a special role on the Internet:
Every child has the right to unrestricted and equal access to the digital world. However, this does not mean that children should use media without restriction. Depending on the age and developmental stage of your child, you can agree on rules together with your child about how long and which media may be used.
Just like an adult, every child has the right to express his or her opinion freely and to obtain information. The Internet offers children the opportunity to obtain age-appropriate information in a variety of ways and to express and disseminate their own opinions. Make sure your child only accesses websites that are safe and suitable for children.
Every child has the right to privacy. As parents, you should therefore be aware and considerate of your children’s privacy rights on the Internet. Avoid disclosing personal information such as your children’s name or address. Ask your child for permission before posting photos of them online or sending them via Messenger. Respecting your child’s privacy also means not checking your child’s smartphone out of curiosity. If you are concerned about your child, seek a trusting conversation with him or her.
Every child is entitled to equal access to education. In the digitalized world, it is important for families, daycare centers and schools to provide support so that children learn to deal safely and responsibly with the opportunities and risks in the media world. Today, the right to access the media is always also a right to access educational media offerings.
Children’s rights focus on the best interests of the child. Children must be protected from all forms of violence, abuse and bad treatment (such as cyberbullying, cybergrooming, hate speech) in all areas of life, including the digital space. Special parental control programs help you protect your child from risks. However, it is even more important to talk to your child about safety risks and problematic content online, thus empowering them to protect themselves.
Incidentally, the importance of parents for the development and well-being of the child is also explicitly mentioned in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Our tip: Talk to your children about what children’s rights are. Find out more at www.kindersache.de/bereiche/kinderrechte/kinderrechte, among other places.