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 cyberbullying, data protection issues, online grooming, cybercrime and child sexual abuse material. 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 Council of Europe Strategy for the Rights of the Child (2022-2027) includes a focus on children’s rights in the digital environment which is reinforced by the Recommendation CM/Rec(2018)7 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on Guidelines to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of the child in the digital environment, which also exists in a child-friendly version. The new Handbook for policy makers on the rights of the child in the digital environment completes these guidelines, by supporting policy makers in dealing concretely with the online rights and protection of children. It assists the formulation of national frameworks and policies, and provides interpretative and practical guidance to ensure the respect of children’s rights online.

The latest Declaration by the Committee of Ministers calls on member states to intensify their efforts to protect children’s privacy in the digital environment and to promote, inter alia, the Guidelines on children’s data protection in an education setting, prepared by the Consultative Committee of Convention 108 in order to address the challenges identified in such settings.

Council of Europe Report on children with disabilities in the digital environment, discussed the importance of policy making and presented how the Handbook can be used to safeguard and support children’s activities online.

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.

The revised Internet Literacy Handbook is a tool for children, parents, teachers and policy makers to be able to make the most of Internet and prepare future generations to use the Internet safely and confidently by being aware of opportunities and risks.