31 May 2011

Top EU policymaker on trusting our online kids | NetFamilyNews.org

It's amazing to hear a policymaker say this: "We cannot, and should not, put our children and youngsters in a digital glass cage, hoping they will never encounter any harmful or illegal content online. This will simply not work." That was Neelie Kroes, European Commission vice president and the EU's top legislator for digital issues, in a speech marking International Missing Children's Day (May 25). But then it gets really interesting: Acknowledging that "prevention, protection, prosecution must be strengthened, at the European and international level," Commissioner Kroes said "we must also remember that building safety also means building trust: trust in our children and youngsters that they have the intelligence, capacity, and maturity to use these wonderful instruments in a positive and empowering way. It is our responsibility to guide them in their growth towards this objective." That trust – and the encouragement of adults to exercise it – is what has been missing in much of the messaging around youth online safety over the past 15 years. The commissioner's message is right in sync with efforts in various parts of the world to support youth agency, resilience, and citizenship both online and offline.