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A Global Research Agenda for Children’s Rights in the Digital Age

A Global Research Agenda for Children’s Rights in the Digital Age

The discussion will include responses from representatives of Pew Internet, FOSI, UNICEF, and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society.

Worldwide, children’s digital access and literacy is growing apace. Yet many of the creative, informative, interactive and participatory features of the digital environment remain substantially underused, and this is a particular challenge in lower-income countries and among socially excluded children. On the other hand, the internet is compounding offline risks and negative experiences such as unwanted sexual solicitation, bullying and harassment, and exposure to pornography and other potentially harmful materials. Drawing on the framework of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, this discussion will critically examine the state of play regarding children’s rights in the digital age in order to identify the research and policy priorities. Sonia Livingstone will argue that the time has come to conduct robust, cross-nationally comparative research to guide policy and practice in maximizing the opportunities and minimizing the harms associated with ICT for children around the world. 

The forum will take place as part of the launch of a special report for UNICEF's Office of Research, "A Global Agenda for Children's Rights in the Digital Age: Recommendations for Developing UNICEF's Research Strategy," co-authored by Sonia Livingstone and Monica Bulger.



berkmanSonia Livingstone is a professor in the Department of Media and Communications at LSE, and author or editor of seventeen books. She is currently a visiting researcher at Microsoft Social Research, and a faculty fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. She directs a 33-country network, EU Kids Online, funded by the EC's Safer Internet Programme, and serves on the Executive Board of the UK's Council for Child Internet Safety, for which she is the Evidence Champion.

Taking a comparative, critical and contextualised approach, Sonia's research examines the opportunities and risks afforded by digital and online technologies in a range of contexts, including children and young people’s experience of digital media at home and school, developments in media and digital literacies, and the implications of the changing media environment. More broadly, she is interested in how citizen values (public sphere, rights-based, equity-focused, diversity-promoting) can be better embedded in information and communication infrastructures in institutions, regulators and the lifeworld. About Sonia Livingstone.



Stephen Balkam: For the past 30 years, Stephen Balkam has had a wide range of leadership roles in the nonprofit sector in the both the US and UK.  He is currently the Founder and CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI), an international, nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington, DC.  FOSI’s mission is to make the online world safer for kids and their families.  FOSI convenes the top thinkers and practitioners in government, industry and the nonprofit sectors to collaborate and innovate and to create a “culture of responsibility” in the online world. Prior to FOSI, Stephen was the Founder and CEO of the Internet Content Rating Association (ICRA) and lead a team which developed the world’s leading content labeling system on the web.  While with ICRA, Stephen served on the US Child Online Protection Commission (COPA) in 2000 and was named one of the Top 50 UK Movers and Shakers, Internet Magazine, 2001.


Urs Gasser is the Executive Director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and a Professor of Practice at Harvard Law School. He is a visiting professor at the University of St. Gallen (Switzerland) and at KEIO University (Japan), and he teaches at Fudan University School of Management (China). Urs Gasser serves as a trustee on the board of the NEXA Center for Internet & Society at the University of Torino and on the board of the Research Center for Information Law at the University of St. Gallen, and is a member of the International Advisory Board of the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society in Berlin. He is a Fellow at the Gruter Institute for Law and Behavioral Research.


Amanda Lenhart is the senior researcher, director of youth and technology research at the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. She is an expert on how adolescents and families use and think about networked technology. She is the lead researcher on Pew Internet projects focusing on youth and is the author of numerous project reports on the topic, including the project’s work on youth and smartphones, online civility, and privacy. Lenhart graduated magna cum laude from Amherst College with a double major in English and Anthropology and earned her master’s with distinction from Georgetown University in Communication, Culture and Technology. She taught at American University, is an affiliate of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and serves as an advisor to the EU Kids Online Project,  a massive 33-country research project based at the London School of Economics. She also regularly speaks about her work to policy makers, at conferences and hearings and to the full range of print, broadcast and digital news media outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post, The NewsHour and NPR’s All Things Considered and Morning Edition, among many others.


In April 2013, Paloma Escudero was appointed as Director of Communications of UNICEF. Bringing her extensive experience and expertise in the areas of communications, fund raising, advocacy and brand management, she oversees UNICEF's global public outreach and communications as its senior communication official. Prior to the appointment, Ms. Escudero had already been well known among the UNICEF family as Executive Director of the Spanish National Committee. Under her management between 2007 and 2013, the Committee was transformed into a highly efficient organization, increasing its contribution to UNICEF's programmes in more than 150 developing countries and contributing significantly to emergencies such as the Haiti earthquake.

Download media from this event here.

Past Event
Oct 7, 2013
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM