The internet is providing children with vast opportunities to learn, share, and communicate. However, when accessing the internet and building their online presence, children may face risks including violations of their privacy and exposure to inappropriate and potentially harmful content. Due to this threat, protecting children online should not be the sole responsibility of their parents — businesses also have a share in this responsibility.
The first step to safeguarding your online presence is conducting self-assessment. Defining your needs and the needs of your users is essential, especially when dealing with a younger user base. Fortunately, there is a tool that will enable you to assess your part in keeping children safe online:
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Child Online Safety Assessment Tool is designed to support ICT (information and communication technology) companies in assessing how children’s rights can be more effectively integrated into their operations. It aims to empower companies to strengthen their child protection policies, codes of conduct and due diligence processes.
The Excel tool has been built with inputs from a wide range of stakeholders, which include ICT companies across a variety of sectors (internet service providers, online gaming, search engines, social media and others), industry associations, independent human rights consultants, non-governmental organizations specializing in child rights for the ICT sector, academics, and media experts.
The three main objectives of the tool are to:
1. Ensure companies understand the core issues and impacts to consider when assessing their
management of child rights and the internet.
2. Offer an easy-to-use and comprehensive self-assessment of a company’s management of children’s rights online and its impact.
3. Reveal strengths and weaknesses in managing child rights policies and practices, and build corrective plans where needed to adjust management practices.
The tool features worksheets for six self-assessment areas:
1. Legal – Ensuring corporate policies and management processes comply with applicable legislation
2. Human Rights and Corporate Responsibility – Integrating child rights considerations into all appropriate corporate responsibility policies and management processes
3. Human Resources – Working to make sure that all employees are aware of child rights and exhibit appropriate behaviors
4. Procurement – Working with suppliers to align values, expectations, and performance
5. Product Development – Creating safer and age-appropriate online environments through product development, in use, and through interaction with customers and users
6. Commercial – Ensuring marketing and sales, products and services promote online child safety