To celebrate Finland’s 100 years of independence, Save the Children and Telia are campaigning to promote children’s rights in digital environments. The campaign is called Digiboom, and it aims to discuss the possibilities and challenges of the internet with children, young people and their parents. Digiboom takes concrete actions to make the internet a better place for children. During the campaign, we have been travelling around, joining children and young people’s events and starting discussions online.
Well, I have never thought about my rights on the internet.
“Well, I have never thought about my rights on the internet” is a common answer when we bring up the topic with kids and young people. We hope to change that, because these rights get violated on the internet every day. Parents have an important task in making sure that the rights are respected and that children know their rights. We challenge all parents to discuss at least the following with their children:
1. The child has a right to privacy
Make sure your child understands that revealing everything about oneself online is not necessary – or even recommended. Starting when the child is young, bring up in discussion that some things should not be shared on the internet. Good examples are contact information, passwords and personal family matters. Consider whether communication on the internet is private or public. For example, can you ever be sure that a WhatsApp group really is secret and private?
2. The child has a right to participation and knowledge
Talk about the information that is being shared online. Who has produced the information? How to recognize a reliable information source? Follow the on-going discussion about false news together and ask what your child thinks about the reliability of internet as an information source. Discuss what kind of information your child shares online and how to join societal debates online. Encourage your child to express themselves – for example by publishing videos online.
3. The child has a right to play and free time
Discuss together how one could improve their own health and well-being even if they play games and use the mobile phone often and a lot. Avoid demonising the child’s media usage. For example, instead of worrying about addiction, concentrate on what kind of content the child is interacting with. Discuss why the child enjoys for example playing games and what kind of digital skills he or she gains while playing online. Strengthen your child’s skills to notice when media usage starts to make them feel bad or sad. Give extra attention to sleep – media usage should never disturb the child’s sleep. Find out together how to make apps silent for the night.
4. The child has a right to be protected
Everyone has the right to set their own limits online. No one should ever cross those limits. Explain that some people are up to no good and that’s why it’s always good to remain critical online. Remember that all kinds of harassment, luring to sexual activity, bullying, threatening and name-calling are absolutely forbidden online. Equip your child to know what to do if they encounter something unpleasant online. By getting to know your child’s media world and by frequently discussing it together in everyday situations without negativity, you create a bond with your child. This bond will help your child trust you even when something unfortunate is going on.
You can read more from our parent guide (in Finnish) and get to know the campaign on our social media channels. We use the hashtag #digiboom.