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National communication law and "Digital Co-Existence" campaign benefit from evidence

(28 January 2018) UNICEF Argentina, with the support of the Ipsos MORI agency, carried out a Global Kids Online study which was completed in mid 2016. Findings demonstrated that children become internet users at a young age and many of them experience some form of negative experience online. The survey of 1,106 adolescents aged 13 to 18 years showed that 3 in 4 experience something upsetting, with the most common negative incidents being related to receiving unpleasant and disturbing messages. Data showed the most common reaction to upsetting content was to block the source, and when looking for help, the preferred person to seek support from is a peer, rather than an adult (Ravalli and Paoloni, 2016). Even though children access the internet most often at their home, 68 per cent say that their families know little about their internet activities. Half of the children do not follow the recommendations that their parents or caregivers make and one in ten do not receive any recommendations (Ravalli and Paoloni, 2016).

A group of children and theatre performers in a "Digital Co-Existence" event in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The project aims to raise public awareness on digital citizenship, based on evidence collected with support of the Global Kids Online research partnership.  

 

Based on the findings, UNICEF Argentina developed a digital citizenship and literacy campaign addressing policy-making, educational opportunities, awareness rising, and multi-stakeholder engagement. The office integrated several creative approaches to increase the success of their activities, including using media campaigns with public figures and children’s theatre performances.

According to María José Ravalli, UNICEF Argentina's communication and advocacy specialist, efforts have concentrated on early engagement with stakeholders and ongoing dialogue. At the start of the data gathering and advocacy project UNICEF Argentina initiated a dialogue with key stakeholders from government bodies, the private sector, media, academia and civil society to discuss how best to use the evidence to inform policy and practice related to digital citizenship. Once the data was gathered a series of dialogues on digital citizenship were organized to deepen analysis of the results and to expand its impact on policy and practice. With the release of the results, UNICEF Argentina hosted several roundtable discussions around ICTs and the private sector. This approach generated recommendations and identifedg key challenges for protecting and promoting the rights of children and adolescents in relation to their digital citizenship.

Based on evidence generated in the study, UNICEF was invited to provide input into the government's new Convergent Communications Law which is intended to reform regulation of telecommunications, cable, television and audiovisual services. The Commission working on drafting the proposal issued a document stating the law's key principles which included the promotion of digital and media literacy. Also using evidence from the study UNICEF Argentina launched a Digital Coexistence Program with the General Director of Culture and Education, the Provincial Agency for Children and Adolescents of the Ministry of Social Development and the Ministry of Justice of Buenos Aires. The program aims at the development of digital citizenship among children and their families, within educational services, in child protection and justice services, among youth leaders and the media. As part of the program, a guide and specials materials with information for adults were designed with the aim of raising awareness about the importance of accompanying children in their digital consumption. Workshops were held with educators and practitioners.

Children using the internet to support their school studies in Argentina.

 

As part of the Digital Coexistence Program a curriculum is being designed for teachers and protection officers, parents and children in Buenos Aires, the largest province the country. The programme involves leading government agencies and ministries. The Digital Coexistence campaign team has worked with a range of public figures, consultants, and media partners to reach a wide audience. A  range of formats presented survey evidence and lessons learned in a dynamic and attractive way, using humour, theatre performances, public campaigns and concerts. A participatory children's theatre event involved 10-year-old school children. In addition a ‘Let’s talk about everything’ web platform and chat helpline were established with the National Youth Secretariat.

(The story originally appeared on 14 January 2018 www.globakidsonline.net)