Protecting children is a priority for all of us. We are all aware of the risks that kids face online; we all want to avoid them; and we all want to do that without losing the many benefits of an open, innovative online world – benefits for the young and old.
Did you know, the average EU 9 to 16-year-old spends about an hour and a half each day online? Often they’re doing that from a computer in their bedroom, or from their mobile. And using devices, services, and content from all over the world. All in all, that’s a big change, and a big challenge; but also a big opportunity. Because there’s a chance to build a better Internet for kids.
Here are three ways I want to do that, ambitiously and effectively.
First, we should never forget that some people use the online world to promote horrible, horrible crimes. Our declaration is a step forward in tackling child pornography, and the criminals who lie behind it.
Second, building a better internet for kids is about more than just stopping terrible things from happening. The Internet should be somewhere kids can go to find great, positive content; somewhere they can learn, play and explore; and they should have the skills and awareness to make the most of that.
After all, kids face risks in the “real world” too – like on the roads. We don’t ban them from going outside: rather, we equip them with the awareness and the tools to stay safe. We should do the same online too. So yesterday, we and the US underlined the importance of raising awareness, and helping parents and children make informed online choices.
This needs help from the private sector, too. After all, kids use a huge range of devices, services, and content online: the vast majority comes from the private sector.
It’s time people saw those big ICT companies as part of the solution for child safety, not part of the problem. There’s a huge benefit to internet companies in doing that – not just for their reputations, but to unlock a huge, beneficial market in quality content, for education or fun.
It’s time those companies, wherever they sit in the value chain, started “thinking safety”, and applying the right measures to build trust.
It’s time we had devices, content and services that are “child-safe”, so that adults can trust them, and leave their kids to explore and enjoy safely.
I’m delighted that many companies are taking this seriously, and stepping up to this opportunity. For example, here’s statements from Facebook, Telefonica and Microsoft about work they’re doing:
But these are just three of the 31 major internet companies involved in our “CEO coalition”. That Coalition is looking at areas like reporting harmful content, age-appropriate privacy settings, content classification, parental controls and takedown of child sex abuse material. I hope these great companies can raise the bar and establish new industry standards so that, together, we can build a better Internet for kids.
[Edit 20 November: Telefonica video also embedded; 22 November, Microsoft video added]