Children need special protection online and they need to be educated about how to steer clear of danger and how to get maximum benefit from their use of the Internet. To achieve this, children need to become digital citizens. The Internet exposes children to a wealth of opportunities, but also risks that may have a detrimental impact on their human rights. Some of these risks include cyber-bullying, data protection issues, online grooming, cybercrime and child pornography. With the right education and concerted efforts on behalf of member states, Internet service providers and educators, children can learn to successfully avoid these risks and to take advantage of the Internet’s many opportunities.

The new Council of Europe strategy includes a focus on children’s rights on the Internet. The Council of Europe protects the human rights of children on the Internet by mainstreaming children’s rights into all aspects of its work in the area of data protection, media and Internet governance. In addition to mainstreaming, the Children’s Rights Division is currently creating a new smartphone and tablet application to teach children about Internet safety. A participatory project on disabled children in the digital age is also being developed. The objective is to help children become digital citizens.

Fundamental freedoms fully apply offline and online, as is emphasised in the Guide to human rights for Internet users. The guide informs Internet users about how human rights apply online and makes the protection of children one of its seven main pillars.

In order to help children understand the Internet and acquire the necessary skills to become digital citizens, the Council of Europe has developed an educational online game: The Wild Web Woods.