Concept Note for a General Comment on Children’s Rights in Relation to the Digital Environment

YACSA believes that young people are the experts in their own lives and are best placed to engage with government about the issues that affect them and their communities. Young people have a range of experiences, thoughts, ideas and perspectives that can enrich decision-making processes and lead to more relevant and whole of community decisions, projects, policies, programs, use of resources and outcomes. YACSA strongly endorses the importance of ensuring that equitable measures are put in place so that political and decision-making processes are accessible to all young people.

The digital environment is an area in which young people have a great deal of experience and knowledge as many of them have spent their entire lives using the internet. Young people are surrounded by and use computers, video games, smart phones, and social media regularly, so the digital environment is second nature to them. Digital environments are also an increasingly important mechanism for education, leisure and social connections, and a vital way in which young people connect, debate, mobilise, campaign and influence the political decisions that impact upon them.

By comparison, parents, caregivers, teachers and politicians have varying degrees of interest in, knowledge of, and competency using digital technologies. As such, it is vital that young people are regularly consulted and engaged in decision-making in relation to the use of technology and the digital environment.

YACSA believes that young people should be continuously involved in the structure and decision making processes of government. This engagement can be undertaken using a variety of mechanisms and can be informal or formal. However, to be effective, engagement should be continuous, representative and meaningful. Engaging with young people in relation to their use of digital environments means that the policy decisions of governments will be appropriate, relevant, supported and responsive to the needs of young people.