Health & time – can technology help?

By | Debrief | 1,286 Comments

rerights_impact-blogs_7In previous posts, we looked at your opinions around your rights to be informed, to privacy, to socialise and to be protected from violence. But digital technology impacts your rights in many other ways.

When Agents told us which rights they felt are impacted in the digital age, only one person selected the right to health. Interestingly though, when we invited you to tell us about the positive and negative impacts of digital technology on your rights in Mission Opposites, you mentioned the right to health a number of times, and always as a right that is challenged in the digital age.

From the effects of staring at a screen on eyesight to not spending enough time outside, being less active or even to concerns around addiction, the idea that digital technology might not be so good for your health came up several times.

“When we get addicted to our digital devices, we tend to stay up all night playing a game, watching movies, chatting with friends or simply listening to music, and that is really bad for our health.” Malaysia, 14

Surprisingly, the idea that digital technology might support better health is rarely mentioned. Yet, technology now plays a big role in health research, treatments delivery and outcomes. With apps to support mental health or monitor chronic conditions, and an avalanche of devices to track fitness, we’re wondering: could a negative be turned into a positive? Does digital technology support the community’s overall health and wellbeing, or not? Is digital technology mostly good or bad for your health? Tell us what you think by posting a comment.

You explored the tension between positive and negative impacts of technology in other areas too. One Agent in Malaysia highlighted how technology is both a great tool to save time, but also interferes with daily life by wasting time!

I have many things to do in a day and having digital technology such as laptop and printer really do help me to save times by printing and typing my assignments instead of writing it on my exercise book and etc.
I used too much time with my digital technology [so] that it disturbs my life. I don’t have enough time to do my other responsibilities due to my time wasted by playing with the digital technology such as my smartphone.
Malaysia, 17

Technology saves time on things that used to take longer and allows time for activities that perhaps did not happen before, so why do we feel that we waste time by doing them? We cannot create more time, so how do we fit more in the time we have? Should some activities be left out? Or should we split our time between all the things we feel we should be doing? How do you decide what deserves more or less time, or what is ‘a good use of time’ versus ‘wasted time’? We would love to hear more on this topic – leave a comment and share your experience.

Now that you have considered the impact of digital technology on your rights, what does it mean for the Convention that was written before the explosion of internet? Should it be updated?
This is what
Mission Evolve is about. We have received some interesting insights from Agents already. So, if you haven’t already, join in and share your ideas. We’ll be looking at the results very soon – stay tuned!


Protection from all forms of violence

By | Debrief | 1,313 Comments

rerights_impact-blogs_6What’s digital technology got to do with your rights?
Well, quite a lot, from what Agents are saying in Missions
Impact and Opposites. As we saw in previous posts, digital technology helps to implement some rights – like access to information or freedom of expression – but can interfere with other rights, like privacy. For many of you, digital technology has also had a significant impact on what’s commonly called ‘protection rights’.

Protection rights form a large part of the Convention. They aim to protect children from any activity that could harm their welfare and development (Article 36). Article 19 says that children have the right to be protected from all forms of violence, abuse and neglect – and some of you felt that digital technology interferes with this right. The main reason you gave was that the online world might increase some forms of harm or even create new ones, and cyberbullying was the most commonly reported example.

“We do not have protection from various forms of violence in the virtual Internet network especially when we talk about cyberbullying” Brazil, 14

“Because bullying spreads outside the school yard through cyberbullying.” France, 16

Alongside behaviours that only happen online, other, offline forms of harm or violence can be made easier with technology, either through easier tracking of information or because of greater anonymity. These things may not increase your risk of harm, but they might make it harder to protect yourself. Some of you mentioned that Article 11 – on protection from parental kidnapping – and Article 35 – on protection from abduction, sale and trafficking – are harder to enact in the digital age. The same can be said for other forms of violence or exploitation, such as sexual exploitation (Article 34).

“It’s pretty rare, but it happens nonetheless that children are kidnapped because of information disclosed for example on the internet (place, time, location …).” France, 14

“We still have many children who surf the internet without supervision of a responsible adult, and we never know who is on the other side of the screen communicating with us. Today in Brazil we see many crimes against children mainly from the use of the internet.” Brazil, 14

Agents seemed to recognise that risk exposure and harmful events might occur in different ways in the digital age, but the right to protection remains the same and is as important now as it was 27 years ago, when the Convention was adopted.

Do you agree? What else can you tell us about digital technology and your right to be protected from all forms of violence? If you haven’t already, accept your next Mission in Operation Uncool and tell us more about the issue of stuff happening online that is simply not cool.

Out next: our final blog post about the impact of technology on your rights. We’ll look at your answers around digital technology, health and time management.


Is there a right to socialise?

By | Debrief | 6 Comments

rerights_impact-blogs_5As we all know, digital technology ー and social media in particular ー has hugely changed the ways we communicate and who we interact with. Technology makes it easier to connect with our interests, or the groups we identify with.

Some of you recognised – in social media, online communities, forums or chatrooms – an example of how Article 15 of the Convention, on freedom of association, can be better enacted in the digital age: “digital technology helps [the] right to meet, make friends with, and form groups with other people” (Malaysia, 17). This includes connecting with minority groups, which is why some Agents also felt that technology helps implement Article 30 – which is about your right to preserve your own culture, language and religion as a minority.

But again, there were contradictions: Agents also viewed the internet as both a result of and factor in globalisation; and globalisation can present a threat to minority cultures, languages and traditions.

“With help from social media they can have easier contact with others of their group and because of internet they can gather information about the group.” Belgium, 17

“[Technology interferes with] the right to learn and use languages and customs of their family (…) as children will be obsessed with the new trends and they would not follow the family tradition.” Malaysia, 16

The right “to socialise with other people online”, “to make friends through social media” or even “to talk to people who are far away” are just a few examples of how you considered social interaction as being an important right in the digital age. However, while you were clear about the positive impact of technology on ‘freedom of association’ and the right to stay in touch with specific groups, many of you ー often the same Agents who expressed these positive aspects ー also mentioned how technology interferes with social and family relationships.

“[Technology interferes with] social skills as in talking to one another… [because] the more we chat and stay behind this wall called social media the harder it is to connect in the real world, face to face with people. So, the more we connect, the more we disconnect.” Malaysia, 14

“[Technology interferes with] my family relationships… [because] since we all have our own digital technology right now, we don’t talk much as much as we do before.” Malaysia, 17

It’s true that the Convention emphasises the importance of social and family relationships, but is more focused on inclusion and awareness ー the right to know who your parents are, to be raised by family if possible, and to know your culture ー than on socialising.

Your answers made us think: should ‘socialising’ actually be a right? Should more emphasis be put on the importance of social interaction ー both online and offline ー and on learning social skills? And if there is tension between offline and online interaction, does the right to socialise offline need to be protected also? Tell us what you think by posting a comment.

Talking of ‘protection’: does digital technology make it easier or harder to protect children? Find out in our next post about protection from all forms of violence.


Private or not private… is that the question?

By | Debrief | 4 Comments

rerights_impact-blogs_4In Mission DigiRights, many Agents mentioned privacy as one of the three most important rights in the digital age. Privacy is also the right that you most commonly reported as being negatively impacted by digital technology, in Mission Opposites. Here’s what you told us.

In recent times, digital technology has turned many more online interactions into customised user experiences, asking us to provide personal details, create multiple accounts or link accounts from different platforms. While digital interactions that are tailored to our interests can be great, this trend also highlights the commercial value of our personal digital data: “Many sites sell personal information.” (France, 16).

The media talks a lot about the risks associated with losing control of your personal information. And the practice of computer hacking gives rise to ‘cyber-concerns’ around financial fraud or identity theft. It can be hard to tell to what extent these are in fact more common, easier to commit, harder to track, or simply more publicised.

“The right of privacy would be breached as there are a lot of hackers online who may steal information from the children.” Malaysia, 16

The fear of cyber-criminals was mentioned several times, but your opinions and sensitivity around ownership of your data strongly came through in your answers. What happens to the information we provide – often willingly – online? The media has focused increasingly on the large scale collection of personal information and ‘Big Brother’-style surveillance, inflaming debates about the divisions between public and private and asking to what extent individuals should have control of their information. Some of you expressed opinions around the use or misuse of your personal data by big companies and institutions, ranging from feelings of mild irritation or unfairness to frustration or distrust.

“[The] internet collects private data that can expose people’s personal information that they want to keep private.” Serbia, 16

“Some of the websites that [ask for] my name and identity card numbers don’t really make sure that my info is secured.” Malaysia, 17

[What rights are important in the digital age?] “To be protected against intensive collection of private data (taken by businesses and GOVERNMENT!).” France, 16

Technology makes it much easier to search for information about anyone: gone are the days when only a few people were famous enough to have anything published about them. Today, information is available about almost anyone: things we post about ourselves or that other people or institutions publish. It’s getting harder to enjoy the benefits of today’s information and communication tools without leaving a digital footprint – which in turn becomes a growing and easily searchable source of information. Have you ‘googled someone’ by way of a first introduction? Have you ever ‘googled’ yourself and been surprised by the search results?

Article 16 of the Convention states: “No child shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family, or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his or her honour and reputation”. In your responses to these topics, you told us that young people are well aware of the issues at stake, and that protecting your privacy really matters to you.

But even when we all agree that privacy should be protected, how do we decide what privacy is and how to protect it?

“Some children display their entire life on the internet, not finding any barriers between public and private life and sometimes revealing intimate and personal information.” France, 14

Digital technology might create new risks, but it also provides new ways to manage how public and private intersect. If you haven’t already, head to Operation Privacy, where you will find some interesting Missions to take the conversation further.

Next, we’ll look at socialising… Does technology help or interfere with social interaction? Is social interaction a right? Check in soon to find out more!


Thriving with digital technology

By | Debrief | One Comment

rerights_impact-blogs_3In Mission Opposites you considered the reasons why digital technology might positively or negatively impact your rights.

The Convention is not just a list of rights, it also says that Governments should do everything they can to support children and allow them to thrive as they journey towards adulthood. Many of the Agents who completed Mission Opposites felt that digital technology provides opportunities to flourish and grow as individuals, “because with technology we can develop our interests” (Indonesia, 16). Some of you pointed out that digital technology helps your right to freedom of thought “because internet gives the access to children to explore new things” (Malaysia, 17).

Growing and developing into adults is your number one job every day. But growing up isn’t always easy, and sometimes you need a little support and direction. Article 5 of the Convention recognises your right to parental guidance, and puts responsibility on Governments to “assist families in fulfilling their role as nurturers of children”. Many of you felt that digital technology impacts on this right for parental guidance but, interestingly, some of you see this as a positive impact, while others saw the negative side.

“With technology it’s easier to guide children.” Indonesia, 16

“It’s harder for parents to guide their children because they can do things on the internet without the awareness of the parents.” Belgium, 17

“Some children might not notify their parents on the sites they surf on.” Malaysia, 15

You have told us that technology can help young people to thrive. So, shouldn’t technology also support parents in helping children to thrive? What kind of guidance do you think young people need? And what do parents need in order to better guide young people in the digital age? How can parents use technology to support young people and better enact article 5?

Still on the topic of young people’s development, another theme in your answers is agency: in other words, the capacity to make choices, to form opinions and to act upon them. Most of you highlighted how technology provides new ways for people ー especially young people ー to express themselves. This points to a recent change in how we think of technology, and the internet in particular: from a tool to access, receive or consume information to a way for people to create and, more importantly, participate as citizens and community members. And you are keen to join the conversation!

“Many blogs or sites ask for people’s stands and opinion on all sorts of matter and there are ways to raise awareness about some things and create movements and target groups.” Serbia, 16

“Nowadays it is possible to express oneself on the internet and social media… Our words can reach much further, sometimes worldwide.” France, 14

What better way to start start building your agency as a young person than by raising awareness about your rights? Article 42 of the Convention says that children have the right to know their rights and that adults should help children learn about them. From what you are saying, it seems that technology can help do just that! And if you feel inspired to share your knowledge, check out Special Op 002!

“Because of the internet children can now look up what their rights are.” Belgium, 17

“From the digital technology children and young people can form an organization eg UNICEF to discuss of our rights as children.” Malaysia, 17

“I didn’t know about all of these rights, even if some were obvious to me, before I went on to RErights which I have discovered thanks to social media and therefore thanks to new technologies.” France, 14

Thriving is also about building resilience and making the right decision when you are faced with challenges. What challenges does digital technology throw at you?

Coming up next: your right to privacy.


About your right to access information

By | Debrief | No Comments

rerights_impact-blogs_2In Mission Opposites, Agents highlighted three rights they thought were positively impacted by digital technology, and three rights they thought were negatively impacted. The right most commonly reported as being positively impacted by digital technology was the right to access information.

“Information is easily found on the internet.” Belgium, 17

The internet is an incredible source of information. As one Agent said: “[the] internet has nearly all the answers” (France, 13). Digital technology has made getting information quick and easy, and many of you rely on it ー to complete school projects, for example.

In fact, many of you said that digital technology helps to implement your right to education because of the way it facilitates access to information. One Agent from Malaysia pointed out that translation programs such as Google Translate “helps me to understand other languages to expand my knowledge” (Malaysia, 17), while another said that “Internet is a good platform to use in order to expand an individual’s mind capacity and vocab.” (Malaysia, 15).

But having so much information brings other challenges, one problem some of you mentioned was the accuracy of information. For some Agents, digital technology makes it easier to access correct information. But for others, it makes it harder to tell the difference between true and untrue information.

“On the internet and with new technologies in general one can find all sorts of information and not all are true.” France, 14

“Without the Internet, we only get our new information with the newspapers, news on TV and magazines. So with the Internet, it gives me quicker updates and more valid facts.” Malaysia, 17

What do you think? Does easier access mean you get better information? Does too much information make it harder to find what’s correct? In Operation News there is a quick survey about online and offline news information. Fill it in to tell us more!

Let’s get back to your rights. Article 17 of the Convention says that children have the right to get information that is important to their health and wellbeing and that they can understand. This includes information in languages spoken by minority and indigenous children. Article 17 also says that mass media should not promote materials that could harm children.

So there are clearly two sides to this article: the right to access information and the right to be protected from some information. This is where it gets tricky as both aspects can be contradictory, isn’t that right? How can we have better access to information but still be protected from some kinds of information? Having one doesn’t necessarily mean letting go of the other and, in the end, we need both these rights. When asked how the Convention might need updating for the digital age, one Agent said “According to article 17, children have the right to get reliable information from the radio, TV and newspaper. This right could be further improved if the radio stations or televisions reduce their broadcasting of explicit videos with sexual content and vulgar words.” (Malaysia, 17). It seems that how to get the right balance is an interesting question that adults and young people may need to think about more.

So, does digital technology support or contradict article 17? The internet has taken access to information to a whole new level: it is a champion at supporting your right to information in a way that no one imagined when article 17 was written. But today there are regular media debates about children accessing ‘inappropriate’ content online. As we found out in the first phase of RErights, young people themselves are concerned about seeing disturbing content or learning the harsh realities of the world at a young age” on news sites (USA, 16). At the same time, parental control software or restrictions designed to protect children from accessing inappropriate content ー which some might say is a good way to follow Article 17 ー were also denounced as a breach of your right to access information.

Some better questions might be: Is blocking access the best way to protect children? Are there other ways? When it comes to information, what do you want access to, and protection from? How would you implement article 17? Tell us what you think by posting a comment below.

In the next post, read about how digital technology helps you thrive and become tomorrow’s adults.


Does digital technology impact your rights?

By | Debrief | 1,305 Comments

rerights_impact-blogs_1True, wondering how technology affects your rights might not be your first thought when you pick up a phone or switch on a computer, but this is a question we asked you, RErights Agents, to think about in
Mission Impact… Here is what you’ve told us so far.

In Mission Impact, you had to select the rights you thought were impacted by digital technology, in either a good or a bad way. And one thing was clear: yes, you do believe that digital technology impacts on your rights. In fact, it seems to have a significant impact. In a list of 28 rights based on the 42 articles of the Convention nearly all were selected by at least one person. Most of you chose ten rights or more from the list, with some selecting over twenty.

In your own words, rights are “the fundamental normative rules about what is allowed of people or owed to people” (India, 16) and although the concept of rights can seem a bit abstract, most of you said in different ways that rights are also directly related to everyday life: rights define what we can and cannot do” (France, 13). With digital technology increasingly a part of our daily lives, it’s no surprise, then, to find that it does impact your rights.

So, which of your rights did you say were most impacted by digital technology? So far the five top-ranked rights are:

  • freedom of expression
  • the right to express your views in matters that concern you
  • the right to access information
  • the right to privacy
  • the right for your rights to be known, protected and implemented.

But that’s not all. The majority of Agents also said that digital technology impacts on awareness, protection and implementation of rights, on freedom of thought and religion, and on your rights to an identity, education, leisure, play and culture. To a slightly lesser extent, ‘protection rights’ ー such as protection from exploitation and all forms of violence, protection from kidnapping, child labour or drug abuse ー were also among the rights that you think are impacted by digital technology.

In the end, only two of the 28 rights listed in our condensed version of the Convention were not selected. None of you really felt that digital technology has an impact on your right to live with, and be raised by family, and on your right to a juvenile justice system.

So, what sort of impact are we talking about? Is it good or bad? Let’s look at the detail behind the ranking. It was clear from your responses that digital technology provides amazing opportunities to improve some rights, but could also challenge others rights. In Mission Opposites, Agents highlighted three rights they thought were positively impacted by digital technology, and three rights they thought were negatively impacted. You also explained the reasons for your choices. It was interesting to see that sometimes Agents chose the same rights but for different reasons. In fact, we can’t fit all the findings into a single post, so we’re going to report back to you in a short series of regular blogs about the themes and rights you selected.

Come back in a couple of days to read more about digital technology and your right to access information in our next post.


Technology use by Agents

By | Debrief | 1,340 Comments

We asked you about how you use technology – what devices you use, when you use them, and how often you go online.

Your answers showed us that most of you use technology in the afternoon or evening after you get home from school or work and that you spend on average about 5-7 hours online a day. Smart-phones are the most popular device, followed by televisions, and tied for third place are tablets and laptops. Most of you do something online about 20-50 times a day, and some agents go online even more often! This is not surprising, given how easy smartphones make it to check your social media, search google or instant message. According to one agent, “It’s a thing, checking messages doesn’t have a set time, it’s literally whenever”. But of course we realise that this might not represent all of our agents and there will be differences around the globe – tell us in a comment if technology use looks different where you are.




Location Location

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Where you are plays a big role in who you are. Moreover, how you feel about the place you live in says a lot about you, and we have received fantastic insights into our team of Agents. From the list of things that you like about where you live, we especially noticed three key things: the community, the infrastructure, and the environment, in that order.05_ReRights_Location

The feeling we get from a location relies heavily on the people who live there and how well we can interact with them. Many of you speak about the ‘great community’, the ‘warm’ and ‘friendly people around’ and the network of support provided by a close-knit community as the main reason why you enjoy living where you are. Sometimes the diversity of the population and cultures is what makes a place more attractive. For others, it is the inner circle of friends and family that is also a strong factor. You like where you live because it is your home, and it is home because it is where family and friends are, where you grew up, where you have many memories.

And, if some of you don’t like the lack of community spirit where you live, this is also one of the first things you would improve if you were able to change anything.

“I like it here because all the people who matter to me are close by.” Belgium

“We somehow all share this bond of community life where we regard everyone, even strangers as friends and relatives.” Malaysia

Having access to infrastructure matters a lot to most of our Agents, whether it be schools, public transport, sporting facilities, shops, or easy access to other cities. Being close to areas of interest and the ease of access to those are very much valued. Access to a variety of activities and events, ‘having things to do’ is important for you, but also access to information, to education and employment opportunities.

Your answers also overwhelmingly show to what extent you care about the environment and how sensitive you are to the way your surroundings look. From the beautiful sceneries of the countryside to the beach, the city skyline or scenic views, many of you take pride in the beauty of your area. You are telling us that protecting this environment is a key issue for the future; you place a lot of value on wildlife, unpolluted air, and green spaces. If you could change anything, you would like more trees and parks, less traffic, and less litter. Finally, to live in a safe and peaceful environment is a chance that many Agents recognise and appreciate; you’re telling us this is essential for you to thrive and develop.

And last but not least, we have also found that our team of Agents is a gourmet bunch with a sophisticated palate! Many of you mentioned food as being one of the three things they really like about where they live. Whether it is enjoying the culinary specialities of your own culture, or being able to taste foods from different cultures, having a choice of restaurants to go to, or just lots of yummy and affordable food, your tastebuds certainly enjoy the experience.

On a more serious note, it is very clear from the things you would like to change that you have plenty of great ideas on how to improve the area you live in. You would like to see more community events and youth focused activities or organisations, you want a cleaner greener environment: “plant more trees” (Malaysia), “less pollution” (Brunei).

“I would add more fun inexpensive things for youth to do and I would make sure that all the libraries are open.” South Africa

Not afraid to think big, some Agents added goals such as tackling poverty, promoting open-mindedness, and ending racial discrimination. You want to improve education, change the rules, reform policies, change the mayor… It seems to us that you just can’t wait to be in charge, or at least to be involved in the decision making process. This eagerness to take responsibility is amazing to hear.

“I’d like to change the city plan as a whole. I think the recent town planning failed to preserve city’s history and green space.” Turkey

So, do you recognise yourself in this picture? Or perhaps you don’t and you would like to say something different about where you live, what you like and what you would like to change there. Either way, join in and complete Operation 1 if you haven’t yet done so, and please comment on this post!