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Digital Child Rights


Course Description

In 1989, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) was adopted and has over the years been endorsed by almost every country in the world – only the United States is not yet a party to this treaty. Since then a lot of water has gone under the bridge and the treaty has quickly gained significance in many ways. Even though, unfortunately, too many children still live underprivileged or deplorable lives, child rights are recognized now more than ever and children are increasingly given a voice in articulating their rights and freedoms. However, the Treaty is also criticized for a number of reasons, including the fact that the world has changed considerably since the date of its adoption. Despite its relatively abstract wording that arguably stands the test of time, demands for modernization of the Convention can be heard and a need for re-interpretation of rights in light of novel developments rises. One of such domains in which the CRC, including one of the Optional Protocols addressing children’s sexual exploitation and abuse, as yet has been deliberated only minimally is in the area of emerging digital technologies.

In Western societies, children’s offline and online worlds are nowadays completely merged and all across the world the relevance of digital technologies in children’s lives is growing exponentially. Digital technologies provide children with ample opportunities for fun, hanging out, social interaction, personal and cognitive development, et cetera; they can, however, also pose risks to them and harm, particularly, vulnerable children. Child rights are specifically important in navigating between three distinctive paradigms put forward by the CRC, i.e. protection, empowerment and emancipation of children, in order to adequately address opportunities, risks, and harm. When it comes to evolving digital technologies there is a tendency towards moral panic and a culture of fear, e.g. in cases of cyberbullying and online sexual abuse, which can result in overly restricting children’s freedoms. At the same time, the CRC’s Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography requires governments to take legal action in order to adequately protect children online. Moreover, ethical issues of online consumerism and online privacy come up that require an academic and societal debate in light of child rights. More generally, it is important to determine how child rights play out in relation to digital technologies.

This course will take a regulatory perspective on the impact of digital technologies on the lives of children, focusing on different modalities of regulation, including the law, in addressing social challenges for children and child rights in relation to digital technologies. The course will also draw from other disciplines, most notably developmental psychology and communications science, to understand the changes technologies bring to children’s lives and how children deal with these changes, as well as to reflect on how these changes impact on their fundamental rights as laid down in the CRC. The course will provide students with an introduction into the CRC and a more in-depth analysis of child rights in light of digital technologies. It will critically reflect on the role of various child rights, such as the right to privacy and personal data protection, the right to protection against violence and abuse, the right to information and freedom of expression, the right to education and the right to personal development and play, in both protecting and empowering children.

Course Requirement

Master Degree


The timetable of this course will be available for students in Brightspace


More information on this course is offered in Brightspace


Attendance of at least 80% of the scheduled course lectures is required to pass the course

Assessment Method


Contact information

Programme Coordinator
Ms Patricia Garcia Fernandez
Telephone number: 0031- 71 527 4228

Disclaimer: This course has been updated to the best of our knowledge at the current time of publishing. Due to the Covid 19 pandemic and the fluctuating changes in lock down regulations all information contained within this course description are subject to change up to 1 September 2020.
Due to the uncertainty of the Covid 19 virus after 1 September 2020, changes to the course description can only be made in the event of strict necessity and only in the circumstances where the interests of the students are not impinged. Should there be a need for any change during the duration of the course, this will be informed to all students on a timely basis and will not be to the prejudice of students. Modifications after 1 September 2020 may only be done with the approval and consent of the Faculty Board”