New European plan proposed for safer internet for children and teenagers

The European Commission presented a new strategy to give children the digital skills and tools they need to benefit fully and safely from the digital world. According to Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice President, this initiative brings every type of player together so that children get more of the quality content, services and protection they need to enjoy a positive experience online.

The European Commission set out a plan for safer internet and better internet content for children and teenagers. In particular, the new strategy is to build up the market for interactive, creative and educational content online, in a partnership between the European Commission and Member States, mobile phone operators, handset manufacturers and providers of social networking services. The EU celebrated the Safer Internet Day 2012 on 7th of February 2012.

The Commission has therefore outlined a range of measures, which will be implemented by different means including industry self-regulation, which should lead to flexible and fast solutions in this field. The strategy has as concrete goals to stimulate the production of creative and educational online content for children and develop platforms which give access to age-appropriate content; to scale up awareness raising and teaching of online safety in all EU schools to develop children's digital and media literacy and self-responsibility online; to create a safe environment for children where parents and children are given the tools necessary for ensuring their protection online; and combating child sexual abuse material online by promoting research into, and use of, innovative technical solutions by police investigations.

Today 75% of children use the internet, a third of them on mobiles, according to the Commission. Also, 4 in 10 children report having encountered risks online such as cyber-bullying, being exposed to user-generated content promoting anorexia or self-harm or misuse of their personal data. While by 2015 it is expected that 90% of jobs across all sectors will require technology skills, only 25% of young people across the EU say they have "high" levels of basic Internet skills (such as using the Internet to make phone calls, create a web page, or use peer-to-peer file sharing).