Children and Media: Growing up in a digitalised workd. Ruth Hieronymi MEP and Marie Panayotopoulos-Cassiotou MEP
The Intergroup on Family and Protection of Childhood organised today in the EP in Strasbourg, under the presidency of MEPs Ruth Hieronymi and Maria Panayotopoulos-Cassiotou, met with the Audiovisual Policy Intergroup in order to exchange views on the influence of media on the lives and development of children. The meeting, which focused on the topic 'Children and Media: growing up in a digitalised world', gathered representatives of the European Commission, Parliamentarians, industry, and NGOs.
Bartholomeus Pronk, Advisor to European Commissioner Viviane Reding, indicated that given the multiplication and diversification of the dangers, the Commission has adopted a number of initiatives, such as the Media Directive and the programme Safer Internet Plus, which aims at sensitising parents, educators and children, as well as creating a network of media professionals, in order to identify and eliminate illegal content on the net. The Commission focuses on examining the dangers resulting from the use of mobile phones by children in the framework of a public consultation, which was closed in October 2006. Mr Pronk underlined that e-literacy and e-learning proposals are currently being examined by Commission experts.
Dr J Brautmeier, a representative of the Media Authority of Northrhine-Westphalia (LfM) European Platform of Regulatory Authorities (EPRA), presented the initiative adopted by the region of Northrhine-Westphalia, including the assessment of self-regulation in order to protect children from harmful content. He mentioned the creation of a committee with extended investigational powers, as well as the development of systems of age verification. He also indicated that Germany has created a portal for the use of mobile phones (www.handysektor.de) and an online information portal (www.klicksafe.de) based on the European Safer Internet Programme. He explained that Germany has also adopted legislation enabling the prosecution of foreign broadcasts which violate German legislation.
Eirini Zafeiratou, Director of GSM Europe, recalled that mobile phone operators recognised their role in preventing and eliminating dangers associated with the use of mobile phones by children. However, she underlined that an effective response to the problem requires close cooperation between all interested actors, including parents, educators and civil society. To this end, she presented the initiative, which is placed under the patronage of the European Commission and GSM Europe, relating to the creation of a European framework for safer mobile use by younger teenagers and children. This partnership has adopted a series of recommendations on control mechanisms, raising awareness, classification of content and the fight against illegal material. Mrs Zafeiratou explained that the first assessment of the European framework will take place in 2008 and that national codes of conduct are currently being prepared in several European countries.
As far as the provision of products and technological services adapted to children is concerned, Mrs Anne Clarke from the European Telecommunications Standards Institute, underlined that the technological sector should take an increased interest in the need of young consumers by exchanging good practices and adopting guidelines and strategies in order to minimise the risk. She regrets the absence of data on the nature and frequency of the risk to which children are confronted, which complicated the work of prevention. Finally, Mrs Clarke insisted on the necessity to include courses on the safer use of media in educational programmes.
Tobjorn Ull from the Crime Against Persons unit of Europol, informed the participants of the Europol programmes to prosecute authors of sexual crimes on the internet, including joint initiatives with Member States, as well as procedures to identify providers and networks. He indicated that the major obstacle is the non-application of existing legislation. Finally, he recalled Europol's role in the retransmission of information to national and international agencies.
"Given the evolution of the media environment, it is necessary to sensitise children, parents and educators to a safer use of new technology, which would be respectful of the law. Prevention and increased parental control will always remain the best weapons against the danger of new technologies", stated Mrs Panayotopoulos-Cassiotou and Mrs Hieronymi.
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Marie Panayotopoulos-Cassiotou MEP
Ruth Hieronymi MEP
Notes to Editors:
The EPP-ED Group is the largest political group in the European Parliament with 278 Members from all 27 Member States.