MEMBERS OF THE European Parliament are calling for greater protection for children on the internet, saying member states should step up their efforts to combat illegal or harmful content.
In a resolution voted on yesterday, MEPs said that a combination of law and cooperation could ensure that online resources can be used by children and young people with less risk.
“We sought to weigh up the fundamental rights of minors in the digital world – the rights to access, instruction and protection – and to protect their right, as ‘digital citizens’, under a new form of governance, to develop their interests as persons and European citizens”, said rapporteur Silvia Costa of Italy’s Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats.
The MEPs cited a survey which showed that the majority of Europeans aged 9 to 16 use a computer to play or do their homework, and half of those aged between 11 and 16 say they find it easier to ‘express themselves’ online than in real life.
However, they also note that children using the internet can become victims of violence, fraud, solicitations (eg cyber bullying and grooming), pornography and harassment.
The text, adopted by a show of hands, proposes that education in new digital media for children, but equally for parents and teachers be included in formal and informal education programmes.
As well as supporting technologies like parental control tools or age verification systems, the EU Parliament recommended that internet service providers work to set up EU-wide coordination of hotlines and other contact points – for children who have disappeared or been abused for example – so as to make it easier to report illegal content or abuse and cooperate with police and juvenile justice systems.
They also stressed the need to increase cooperation other countries so harmful content hosted on their territory can be removed quickly.