Surfing the web is becoming a habit for our children, who need stronger protection, say MEPs in a resolution voted on Tuesday. EU member states should step up their efforts, through law, cooperation, or sharing good practice, to combat illegal or harmful content and ensure that online resources can be used with less risk, they add.
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 (S&D, IT) in Monday evening's plenary debate.
Education in new digital media
All young Europeans aged 9 to 16 use a computer to play or do their homework, and half of those between 11 and 16 say they find it easier to express themselves on line than in real life, according to a survey done in the member states. Children run the risk of violence, fraud, solicitations that diminish the perception of offence to their own or others' dignity (cyber bullying and grooming), pornography and harassment - sometimes extended into real life - of which their parents are most often unaware.
The text proposes that education in new digital media for children, but equally for parents and teachers - be included in formal and informal education programmes.
Combating illegal and harmful content
MEPs recommend that institutional players and internet service suppliers step up EU-wide coordination of hotlines and other contact points (e.g. for children who have disappeared or been abused), so as to make it easier to report illegal content or abuse and cooperate with police and juvenile justice systems. They also stress the need to step up cooperation with third countries so that harmful content hosted on their territory can be removed quickly.
Parliament also backs recourse to technologies designed to prevent children from accessing content inappropriate to their age, such as parental control tools or age verification systems.
The resolution was adopted by a show of hands.
Procedure: Non-legislative resolution