September has been Positive Online Content Awareness Month: a fitting way of kicking off the new school year and a great opportunity to discuss how we can make the internet a better place for children. Claire Bury, Deputy Director-General, explains what happened over the last four weeks.

Being online is an essential part of the lives of today’s children and young people.  By nature they are curious, and whether they are surfing the internet, gaming or using their favourite apps, they want to have fun, explore, be inspired and inspire others.

The European Strategy for a Better Internet for Children aims to help young people explore the vast array of online opportunities on offer more safely – whether for social interaction, education or participation in public discussion. One of them is the #SaferInternet4EU campaign, which has reached 30 million Europeans through the EU co-funded network of Safer Internet Centres. These centres have created more than 1800 new resources covering topics such as fake news, cyberbullying and connected toys. Each year, we mark Safer Internet Day. This year’s edition had more than 150 countries participating worldwide, a new record.

Positive online content: for a better digital childhood

Now the time has come to shine the spotlight on the youngest web users: children under 12. The Positive Online Content Awareness Month  promotes positive experiences for children discovering the digital world for the first time. A wide range of activities has been organised to foster a discussion between young people, parents, teachers and the internet industry about the importance of providing high quality, age-appropriate, informative and entertaining content for children.

The hub of the campaign is a dedicated mini-site with practical resources to help in the creation and identification of positive online content, and video testimonials by BIK Youth Ambassadors. It includes checklists for parents and teachers looking for ways to find online content for children that is empowering, engaging, stimulating and, above all, safe. These resources also target content providers, encouraging them to ensure not only that websites and apps comply with relevant legislation but also that they are easy for children to navigate and are creative, interactive and educational.

This year we celebrate 30 years of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Today, online rights are fundamental for all children, and we need to work to protect them from online harm. This is a shared responsibility, and the European Commission is committed to ensuring that the children of today and the young adults of tomorrow are competent and responsible participants in the digital economy and society. Let’s act together to help them thrive in the digital age!