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Regulating Online Child Safety


Admission requirements



This course deals with regulatory issues regarding online risks for children and adolescents. Extensive social-scientific research has shown that the Internet has a profound effect on young people’s lives. New technologies provide them with ample opportunities for online friendships, online entertainment and the creation of all kinds of content (profiles, videos, etc). On the negative side, however, greater Internet use also increases online risks and victimisation of youths in a number of ways, like loss of reputation, abuse of personal data, identity theft, harmful content, fraud, and cyber-harassment. In light of online risks, there are particular concerns concerning children, because they are easily misled and less proficient in seeing through (potentially) awkward and perilous situations. Moreover, particularly during adolescence, risk-taking behaviour increases and so do online risks. Additionally, the impact of online (mis)behaviour is greater, given that the visibility of such actions is potentially global and online content (text, pictures, video, etc.) can be effortlessly copied or searched, however not (easily) removed. This course intends to provide students with insights in the relations between these online risks for youths and regulatory approaches in empowering and protecting them against online risks and harm. The course will focus on the role of law and, more particularly, child rights in balancing freedom for youths to develop themselves online and regulatory control to protect them from online victimisation. Additionally, the course will provide students with insights in theories of the regulation of cyberspace, and particularly, the dynamic interaction of law with other modes or regulation, like technological and private regulation. Moreover, students will become aware of the interdisciplinary character of this regulatory domain, in which a close relation exists between law, policy, communications science, and developmental psychology.

The course will be taught over 5 weeks and consists of 10 sessions of 2 hours each. Each week will focus on another topic, like cyberbullying, grooming, online privacy, online fraud, and harmful or illegal content. The first weekly lecture addresses the theoretical legal background; the second weekly lecture focusses more on applying theory to concrete cases and actively discussing legal and regulatory issues with the students. Students are expected to study the required literature prior to the lectures and to actively participate in discussions.

Course objectives

Objectives of the course
The aim of this course is to inform students on regulatory questions related to online child safety and show them the possibilities but also restrictions of the law in dealing with these issues. Moreover, the course intends to instruct students on the relevance of other disciplines (especially the social sciences) in addressing online child safety and how empirical research in this area allows them to better understand some of the child safety issues that arise on the Internet.

Achievement levels
The following achievement levels apply with regard to the course:

Knowledge and insight:

Students that have successfully completed this course will:

  • have acquired extensive knowledge on the legal regulation of online child safety and, more particularly, on child rights as well as criminal law, private law, and administrative law aspects of online child safety.

  • have acquired meaningful insights in how technology influences societal developments and, thus, challenges the law as well as in the extent to which law can deal with particular social issues

  • have acquired knowledge on theories of cyber-regulation and how law dynamically interacts with others modes of regulation, like technological and private regulation

  • have acquired an understanding of the interdisciplinary character of the online child-safety domain and the roles of the various relevant disciplines in regulating and theorising on online child safety

Application of Knowledge and Insight
Students that have successfully completed this course will be able:

  • to analyse socially and theoretically relevant legal questions concerning online child safety’;

Students that have successfully completed this course will be able:

  • to position online child safety issues in a theoretical legal, regulatory, and, to a certain extent, interdisciplinary context;

  • to make an informed judgement about online child safety issues – including opinions of others on them – taking into account all relevant (legal) aspects.

Students that have successfully completed this course will be able:

  • to systematically, coherently and concisely discuss relevant legal issues, both in writing and orally;

  • to constructively discuss in writing the written work of their fellow students


The timetable of this course can be found in uSis.

Mode of instruction


  • 2 hours per week over 5 weeks

  • Preparation: study the required literature that will made available on Blackboard


  • 2 hours per week over 5 weeks

  • Preparation: study and make the assignments on Blackboard

Attendance of working groups is obligatory

Assessment method

Examination form(s)
The course is graded based on the two following constituent parts:

  1. Written assignment and presentation
    Students are expected to work on a written assignment during the course. They will write either a paper in a small group (2-3 persons) or a blog column individually on a legal topic related to the course. The type of written assignment (paper or blog) will be determined by the co-ordinator prior to the start of the course.

Students will also give a presentation in pecha-kucha style (a presentation methodology in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each). Instructions on how to write a paper or a blog column and how to do a pecha kucha presentation will be provided in class and on Blackboard.

A concept of the paper or blog column of each student is reviewed by two fellow students in an obligatory (both for reviewer and reviewed) peer review procedure. Students will be instructed on how to constructively review the assignments of their fellow students. Based on the reviews, the assignments can be improved before final versions are uploaded to Blackboard and graded by the course coordinator.

The grade for the written assignment (80%) and review reports (20%) will in total provide 50% of the final grade.

  1. Written exam

The course is completed with a written examination on the required literature and the topics discussed in the lectures. The grade for the written examination will provide 50% of the final grade.

Areas to be tested within the exam
The examination syllabus consists of the required reading (literature) for the course, the course information guide and the subjects taught in the lectures, the seminars and all other instructions which are part of the course.


More information on this course is offered in Blackboard.

Reading list

Required and recommended literature will be made available on Blackboard and will consist of international (English-language) academic journal articles; European and international policy documents; legal texts (laws and case law).


Students have to register for courses and exams through uSis.

Contact information


  • Institution/division: Metajuridica, Department: eLaw@Leiden

  • Room number secretary: B3.30

  • Opening hours: by appointment

  • Telephone number secretary: 071 527 8838

  • Email:


Belangstellenden die deze cursus in het kader van contractonderwijs willen volgen (met tentamen), kunnen meer informatie vinden over kosten, inschrijving, voorwaarden, etc. op de website van Juridisch PAO.