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The moderator, Ambassador Corina Calugaru, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Moldova to the Council of Europe, welcomed everyone to the event which focused on the launch of the Literacy Handbook for Children, before introducing the panel.
Ms Janice Richardson, Senior Advisor, European Schoolnet, explained that the handbook aims to provide information and tools on the issues related to the Internet, and digital-media related activities, in an accessible manner. The handbook seeks to cover a wide range of actions available to parents and educators, to ensure the safe use of the Internet by children.
Calugaru then pointed out that with the increasing amount of multistakeholder actors and forums in Internet governance issues, it is increasingly important for children’s rights and ethical issues be included in the process. She also pointed out that in the case of children, there is a need for clarity and transparency.
Dr Elizabeth Milovidov, Independent Expert, Council of Europe; Digital Parenting and eSafety Consultant, outlined that children are the future generation and as such, it is important that they can navigate the Internet and digital environments with the necessary tools, especially in the context of constantly evolving technological landscape.
Mr Martin Schmalzried, Senior Policy/Advocacy Officer at Families Europe, outlined how the handbook also aims explain the different aspects of the Internet, by progressively building on existing knowledge in varying parts. Despite this, the handbook includes ethical issues, while simultaneously maintaining a wide focus and something for everyone. Richardson explained that education needs to focus on four objectives: learning to learn, learning to do, learning to be, and learning to be with each other. These are overlapping and inter-twined ideas across the book.
Milovidov highlighted that it is important for parents to be aware of their children’s reputation and actions both on and offline, as these are becoming more and more intertwined. She described how the book seeks to address various cybersecurity issues concerning children’s rights online, especially in the context sextortion. For example, the Council of Europe aims to teach to children that their bodies belong to them and that some activities are not to be tolerated.
Schmalzried explained that virtual environments are becoming really specific and appealing, which can increase the possibility of children withdrawing from social life and interactions. The handbook also includes a chapter on future issues such as artificial intelligence and robotics, as they introduce both great possibilities, but also ethical and social problems. The authors also added more technological fact-sheets and parts to the handbook, as it is essential to understand technical issues for behaving responsibility and safely in a digital environment.
The moderaror concluded that the Council of Europe, as is evident from the handbook, is trying to promote literacy and human rights. This is done while seeking to provide instructions to parents, children and educators on how children can maintain responsible behaviour online.
By Arto Väisänen