Education and outreach

What is it?

  • Regular messaging through accessible channels that are appropriate to age, gender, race, disability, culture and nationality / language.

Why is it important?

  • Methods to restrict content (see capability 19) will likely not 100% safeguard children from inappropriate content and exposure to potential contact with strangers. Children and other internet users need to be made aware of national laws, guidelines and the potential implications of sharing sexual content of themselves or others.
  • Children, parents and caregivers, and the public in general need education on safe and responsible digital use so that they are aware of the risks, know what is expected of them and can respond appropriately to negative situations or harmful or inappropriate content (see capability 17).
  • The skills and competencies that users need to be able to participate as responsible digital citizens are not acquired automatically and need to be learned and practised; education in this area is vital.[1]

How can it be implemented?

  • Research on the risks and use of digital products and services, and how children uphold their rights and responsibilities online, can inform outreach and education services (see capability 23). Vulnerability assessments, with intersectional analysis, can also be carried out to understand the vulnerability of different groups of children to online sexual abuse and exploitation. With an understanding of the risks and vulnerabilities, educational content and information outreach can be developed in a way that is appropriate, understandable, relevant, participatory and inclusive for the population groups being targeted.
  • Some core areas to cover in education content include: (i) competent and positive engagement with digital technologies, e.g. digital literacy (inclusion, access, creating, learning, working, communicating, playing), (ii) active and responsible participation in global online communities (rights, responsibilities, ethics, health, values, attitudes, intercultural engagement, community engagement, e-presence, ways of communicating) and (iii) balancing digital and offline worlds (safety and risks, wellbeing, privacy, informal vs formal settings, consumer awareness, evaluating content).[2]Social and emotional learning concepts should also be included in online safety education in order to support children in developing their social and emotional skills to engage in respectful online relationships and strengthen resilience.
  • Core educational and outreach messages targeting different audiences should be aligned and based on evidence. A range of channels can be used to disseminate the education and outreach messages (online and offline formal / in a classroom, online and offline informal) material to target audiences. Children, parents and caregivers, teachers and the general public should be primary targets for the educational content.

Further resources:

[1] Informed by: Council of Europe, Digital Citizenship and Digital Citizenship Education.

[2] Informed by: Council of Europe, Digital Citizenship and Digital Citizenship Education.