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Debates
Wednesday, 12 February 2020 - Strasbourg Provisional edition

Better internet for children (debate)
MPphoto
 

  Yana Toom, on behalf of the Renew Group. – Madam President, when this debate was announced, I immediately expressed my interest in taking part in it. During the previous legislation, I was the rapporteur on education in the digital era and also shadow on the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD). So I went to do my homework. I was disappointed when I found out that the last time the Commission addressed the issue was in 2011, and since then we have just forgotten the approach which was agreed.

Let me give you an example. Ten years ago, we were against the fragmentation of the market, but, two years ago, we adopted the AVMS with the famous moral development of children to be defined by Member States. The good news is that, in 2019, the Commission announced the creation of a new Expert Group on Safer Internet for Children. So we took only eight years to take the first coordinated steps.

Since then, the group has had three meetings, but we’re still far from a solution. Why? I believe we have to take into account at least two important things. First, children grow fast and we have to act accordingly. Ten years for a political decision means one generation at school. Second, we cannot solve systematic problems by projects, but this is exactly what we are doing. We have of course adopted some good directives, which we have already mentioned: combating sexual abuse, xenophobia, hate speech, GDPR, and so on, but this is not enough.

What we need is a comprehensive European approach to the digital education of children, not on a project basis but in each and every school, compulsory, with good teachers, a clear curriculum, an agreed set of criteria and assessment system. But what do we have in practice? Some Member States where 60% of schools do not have an internet connection. What digital education can we speak about? I strongly believe that we have to act, but act quickly and invest proper funds, not just in the meetings or working groups, but in the schools. Otherwise eight years later, it will be the same.

 
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