September 29, 2006

NEWS: Council of Europe empowers children to deal with both positive and negative sides of the Internet and other new technologies

Council of Europe empowers children to deal with both positive and negative sides of the Internet and other new technologies

Strasbourg, 29.09.2006 - The Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers has called on member states to make information technology an integral part of school education from an early age, to help children maximise benefits and avoid pitfalls of the Internet and other new technologies.

The 46-member Council of Europe is taking a positive approach to deal with harmful content on the Web, partly in response to the dangers posed by the Internet.

Measures approved in a new Committee of Ministers? Recommendation  include giving children the skills to create, produce and distribute content in new technologies, respecting the rights and freedoms of others while also promoting their own right to freedom of expression.

The recommendation calls for member states to ensure that these skills enable children to better understand and deal with questionable content, including violence, pornography, discrimination and racism.

In addition, the forthcoming Council of Europe Pan-European Forum in Yerevan, Armenia, on 5 and 6 October 2006 will bring together representatives of Council of Europe member states, civil society, the private sector, academia and the media, and other interested organisations.

"Empowering children to use the Internet is the best filter," said Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, Council of Europe Deputy Secretary General, several days ahead of the forum.

The forum will stress that filtering and labelling Internet content is not enough to ensure that children and young people can surf the web safely - in the exercise of their rights and freedoms, including the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas.

Children and young people need to be, and to feel, empowered when using the Internet, so they can competently use its tools and services and critically analyse Internet content and communications. By equipping them and their educators with appropriate skills and knowledge, they will be able to exercise their rights and freedoms fully and responsibly, to improve their development and well-being online.

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A political organisation set up in 1949, the Council of Europe works to promote democracy and human rights continent-wide. It also develops common responses to social, cultural and legal challenges in its 46 member states.

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