Towards a child-centred digital equality framework

Adapting for the future by adopting a more holistic approach — shifting from digital inclusion to digital equity

Anish, 11, studies at home in Dharewada village, Banaskantha, Gujarat, as schools are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


The digitization of society does not have a universal effect on all children. Even with the same internet access, digital literacy and content, children from different places and backgrounds can still have unequal experiences and outcomes. A child’s individual environment influences the extent to which they can seize digital opportunities and avoid digital risks. Unaddressed injustices and inequities based on sexism, racism, classism and other forms of discrimination, contribute to this, and technological advances reflect and amplify existing social, cultural and economic inequalities.

In order to get the most out of digital technology, underlying inequalities in the lives of children need to be addressed.

This report presents a future-ready, child-centred digital framework that incorporates all aspects of digital inclusion, addresses known gaps, explicitly aims to achieve digital equality, involves a broader range of stakeholders to do this, and responds to emerging technologies and trends.

The framework can be used in several different ways:

  1. as a basis for designing and evaluating digital inclusion policies, whether they cover inclusion broadly or are policies more specific to, for example, improving access or digital learning,
  2. to help gauge how holistic a policy is and how it includes (or not) relevant stakeholders needed for achieving digital equality for children, and
  3. as a tool to assist drafting policies and interventions by government policymakers, international organizations and the private sector.

As the digital landscape is dynamic, the framework is intended to be a living and adaptable document that can be updated according to shifting technologies and social and economic realities.

Learn more: Read A Global Review of Selected Digital Inclusion Policies, which used this framework to review digital inclusion policies from around the world. The report highlights promising practices, identifies policy gaps that need to be addressed to achieve greater digital equality, and outlines key requirements for holistic policy approaches to digital inclusion.

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Ellen Helsper and Steven Vosloo
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