One out of three internet users is a child. They go online at an ever younger age, using a diverse range of devices. They spend more time on the internet and social media, play more online games and use mobile apps, frequently without supervision by adults. New technologies such as artificial intelligence, increased connectivity, augmented and virtual reality will cause an important shift in the way children engage and interact in society.
While the internet offers many opportunities for learning, communication, creativity and entertainment, it also opens up certain risks to vulnerable users such as children.
Online, children can be exposed to harmful content and behaviour such as cyberbullying, sexual harassment, pornography, violence, or self-harm. Efficient responses are needed to prevent negative consequences for their cognitive, social and emotional development.
The European Strategy for a Better Internet for Children provides a set of complementary measures, ranging from funding, coordination and self-regulation.
The Commission co-funds Safer Internet Centres in Member States (coordinated by Insafe), with the Better Internet for Kids portal as a single entry point for resources and sharing best practices across Europe. Their main task is to raise awareness and foster digital literacy among minors, parents and teachers. They also fight against online child sexual abuse material through its network of hotlines (INHOPE).
The Commission is facilitating the "Alliance to better protect minors online", a self-regulatory initiative with leading ICT and media companies, civil society and industry associations tackling harmful online content and behaviour.
Awareness-raising is an essential element of online safety: every year, we celebrate Safer Internet Day - a worldwide event including over 140 countries in all continents, reaching millions of people across the globe through events and various activities.
For more information:
- An overview of the Safer Internet Programme activities
- Connecting Europe Facility, the instrument for co-funding the digital service infrastructure for Safer Internet Centres and core platform for horizontal services.
- Insafe: European network of Awareness Centres promoting safe, responsible use of the internet and mobile devices to young people.