Young Scots reveal challenges to their rights online

Date: 13th June 2017
Category: Civil Rights and Freedoms

A new report presented to the Scottish Government finds that more than half (59%) of young people have experienced or know someone who has been effected by bullying online. Two in five (41%) young people have admitted they don't know if their rights are being observed in the digital world.

The report was developed and delivered by a group of young people called the Young Scot 5Rights Youth Commission who visited the Scottish Parliament today. The commission gave first-hand insight on how young people's rights can be realised in an increasingly digital society to the Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop and Minister for Childcare and Early Years, Mark McDonald.

The report asks the Scottish Government to engage with young people in all decision-making processes about the digital world. It emphasises the need for the rights of young people to be promoted across the tech world and to be made a top priority in the design, provision and consumption of digital technology.

The commissioners made several recommendations to the Scottish Government on behalf of all young people. They include:

  • Greater internet access in rural areas and more Wi-Fi in public areas;
  • Limitations to the unnecessary collection of young people's data online;
  • Integration of digital literacy into all areas of education;
  • Encourage girls into technical professions;
  • Creation of a centralised point for young people to review and manage their digital footprints.

5Rights is an UK initiative aimed at enabling children and young people to access the digital world creatively, knowledgably and fearlessly. It aims to promote the five fundamental digital rights of children and young people - the right to remove, the right to know, the right to safety and support, right to informed and conscious use and the right to digital literacy.

The 5Rights Youth Commission was launched in February 2016 by Aileen Campbell MSP on behalf of the Scottish Government - in partnership with Young Scot and 5Rights - to gather insights, ideas and recommendations from all across Scotland, on 'how Scotland can become a nation which realises the rights of children and young people in the digital world'.

Young Scot, the strategic lead of the 5Rights campaign in Scotland, has supported and guided the 5Rights Youth Commission in its work. This has included conducting a national peer survey, attending seminars and working alongside policy-makers. Their work has already been used to shape the Scottish Government's 'Realising Scotland's full potential in a digital world: A Digital Strategy for Scotland' and the 'National Action Plan on Internet Safety for Children and Young People.'

A peer survey of 1,675 young people aged 18 or under in Scotland, conducted by the commission, shows that young people are very concerned about online issues. Over two thirds (69%) believe that some technology products and services have been designed to be addictive and 59% of young people said their parents or carers had tried to limit the amount of time they spend on the Internet - the website most likely to be banned by parents and carers is Facebook (54%).

The result showed that young people, 'digital natives' who have grown-up using the internet, actually regard their online and off-line lives as one and the same. As such, there is a pressing need to ensure that young people's rights are fully incorporated into and enforceable in relation to online activities.

Emma McFarlane, from the 5Rights Youth Commission, said:

"For society to move forward in realising the rights of young people, it is no longer appropriate to view online and offline as two exclusive and separate entities. Often we hear a distinction between the 'real world' and the 'virtual world'. In reality, they are intertwined. As young people's lives, careers and education continue to become more and more digitalised, it is important that the government continues to prioritise the 5Rights and embed them in our society."

Baroness Kidron, Founder of 5Rights said:

"This is an exceptional project from an exceptional group of young people who have articulated the need of ALL young people to be treated with respect in the digital environment. Embracing technology is necessary and desirable, but now we understand the potential of the digital world, we must work with young people who are saying, quite clearly, that they want support and opportunities that are not currently provided".

Mark McDonald, Minister for Childcare and Early Years said:

"The launch of the 5Rights report marks an exciting new chapter. I want to thank Young Scot for its role in leading the coalition's work in Scotland to champion young people's digital rights and all the young people who contributed their time, views and experience to this vital piece of work.‪‬‬‬

"The internet has positively transformed the lives of children and young people, bringing vast opportunities for learning, empowerment, communication and support. We want children and young people to be protected, safe and supported in the online world and for them to be able to enjoy the internet, show resilience and take advantage of the opportunities it has to offer. We will do all we can to invest in their digital resilience of our children and young people to enable them to exercise their digital rights fully.

"We have published an action plan on internet safety ensuring that they have access to appropriate training, support and information."

Louise Macdonald, Chief Executive of Young Scot, said:

"We are very proud to see the culmination of the commission's year of hard work. Growing up in a truly digital world, these young people offer poignant, first-hand insight into how rights can be respected both on and offline. They have produced a powerful report, which we hope will be important in influencing policy."