As underlined in the EU Agenda for the Rights of the Child, the long-term effects of not investing enough in policies affecting children may have a profound impact on our societies. Whereas the Digital Agenda for Europe aims to have every European digital, children have particular needs and vulnerabilities on the Internet, which must be addressed specifically so that the Internet becomes a place of opportunities for children to access knowledge, to communicate, to develop their skills and to improve their job perspectives and employability.
Children are increasingly exposed to the Internet, through a growing range of devices and at a younger age. It is therefore necessary to develop now a proper strategy to encapsulate their needs. New and higher quality content and services, dedicated to children, have to be developed. Online safety for children has to be guaranteed. In turn, analyses show that a better and wider use of the Internet by children is opening the door for intensive business development in innovative online content and services. Capitalising on the size of the internal market, European companies can be well placed to seize these opportunities for growth and jobs.
As highlighted in the Council Conclusions on the Protection of Children in the Digital World of 28 November 2011, a combination of policies is required to deliver a Better Internet for Children. Actions are being developed at the national, European or sectoral level. They need to be included in an EU-wide strategy, which develops baseline requirements and avoids fragmentation. Regulation remains an option, but, where appropriate, it should preferably be avoided, in favour of more adaptable self-regulatory tools, and of education and empowerment.
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