Parents to talk to children about internet risks and opportunities

On Safer Internet Day, celebrated worldwide on 9 February, UNICEF is calling for parents, schools, media, academia, NGOs and the government to work together to raise media-literate citizens and build a safer and more inclusive digital environment

UNICEF Montenegro
A mom and a boy using lap top
UNICEF Montenegro / Duško Miljanić / 2016
09 February 2021

PODGORICA, 9 February 2021 – On the occasion of Safer Internet Day, celebrated worldwide on 9 February, UNICEF is reminding people that, according to the 2016 Global Kids Online research, in Montenegro one in every two children (45 percent) does not feel safe online and one in three children (38 percent) had an upsetting experience online during the last year. These experiences are more common among boys and their number significantly increases with age. Many children do not know what to do when unpleasant things happen online.

Being a parent in the digital age means having an additional responsibility of supporting children to become aware of the opportunities and risks that the digital environment provides them with.

Juan Santander, UNICEF Montenegro Representative

Parents need support to perform this duty. For this reason, through the national media literacy campaign #LetsChooseWhatWeWatch, led by UNICEF’s young reporters, UNICEF is calling for parents, schools, media, academia, NGOs and the government to work together to raise media-literate citizens and build a safer and more inclusive digital environment. Since this campaign started, two years ago, the number of parents talking to their children about what they do online more than doubled from 21 percent to 47 percent. Also, the majority of parents now limit the screen time of their children and the media content that they follow online.

Media literacy visual
UNICEF Crna Gora / Duško Miljanić / 2018

The coronavirus crisis has made it clear how important media and digital literacy is for realizing the right to health and safety, as children and adults have been exposed to a large amount of disinformation that sometimes can be life-threatening. According to Ipsos research that was conducted with UNICEF’s support in May 2020, seven out of 10 citizens of Montenegro recognize media literacy as a long-term response to this phenomenon. They believe that greater media literacy among citizens would enable them to check the accuracy of information themselves, which would reduce the spread of disinformation.

As internet safety is a global concern for children everywhere, a few days ago, on 4 February, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child adopted the General Comment 25 on children’s rights in relation to the digital environment. It calls for governments to identify a body in charge of coordinating policies and programmes related to children’s rights in the digital environment.

In order to promote child rights and protect children in the digital environment, Montenegro needs to develop a national digital and media literacy strategy and to identify an institution that will be in charge of its coordination, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. UNICEF stands ready to support these efforts.

Juan Santander, UNICEF Montenegro Representative

Through the General Comment on children’s rights in the digital environment, the UN Committee on the Child Rights is calling on states to raise awareness on children’s rights in the digital environment, as well as to support children, parents, teachers and others working with children to develop digital literacy and skills in order to know how children can benefit from digital services, how to minimize risks and how to recognize a child victim of online harm and to respond appropriately.