Digital culture development

What is it?

  • A demand for online child safety to be prioritised, whilst maintaining the right of children to privacy. Safety should be seen on a equal footing with privacy and security considerations.  This should be built into technology and evolve with the online environment as they change. Increased public/citizen understanding of their rights and accountability of governments and companies of how they are upholding their responsibility and duty of care to children.

Why is it important?

  • Digital culture outlines how humans interact online and how humans behave, think and communicate in an online society. Digital culture also reflects how humans understand and interact with persuasive technology (e.g. sharing, liking, profiling), misinformation and open online access and exploration (see capability 14).
  • The rights and responsibilities of all actors and individuals must be respected online as they are offline; this is particularly important for children as childhood itself, and the various cognitive stages, has inherent vulnerabilities.
  • It is also important for global citizens to understand the duty of care and associated responsibilities that technology businesses have towards them and to be able to hold technology to account when products or services are deemed harmful or unsafe for children.
  • Due to the particular nature of the online environment it is possible for children (and adults) to remain anonymous or have fake profiles and that children may not always know who they are engaging with, even on a child-focused product or service. It is also possible for children, and adults, to keep their behaviour and communication and the services or products that they access and use private. When online children may have access to products and services with adult content, this is less common offline.
  • All actors, organisations and individuals in society who engage with the online environment should understand children’s online safety dynamics and need to be able to identify concerns, promote and support reasonable child safety features and act in a protective manner online where necessary.
  • It is important therefore to develop and teach all individuals, and particularly children, their responsibilities and how to utilise digital environments in a responsible and safe manner.

How can it be implemented?

  • Create a targeted, coordinated and widespread government campaign on what responsible digital engagement is (and is not), why responsible digital engagement is important, what individuals’ responsibilities are in ensuring safe, pleasant and healthy digital engagement and how individuals can help to create a safe, pleasant and healthy digital engagement.
  • The campaign should target different users, aiming to reach children of all ages, parents, adult digital users, technology industry and government representatives. Content, communication channels and key messages will need to be appropriate and relevant to specific audiences, representative user participation and intersectional analysis will be important to ensuring the campaign is relevant, inclusive and reaches diverse audiences.
  • The campaign should aim to build moral responsibility, accountability and online social capital amongst all individuals and actors: how to be a good digital citizen. Information on the importance of reporting abuse or concerns of abuse should also be included in an aim to increase proactive reporting and responsible online communities.
  • Include in the campaign a clear explanation that there are consequences based on online action and behaviour and, where possible or necessary, put in place disciplinary procedures (potentially offline) for bad behaviour.

Further resources:

Young Minds, Mental Health Support.