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Children are active users of Telia Company’s services and we consider them to be important stakeholders. We have adopted the UN’s Children’s Rights and Business Principles as guidance to integrate children’s rights and perspectives into our operations and offerings. Ongoing climate change and the unsustainable use of natural resources have a big impact on children’s safety, health and well-being, and are increasing concerns about their future, as voiced by today’s changemaker generation itself. The pandemic and economic crisis are taking a toll on young people’s mental health.
Mobile Driving Licence
In 2022, Telia Company carried out a Child Rights Impact Assessment in light of societal changes impacting children. For this assessment, we used UNICEF’s Child Rights Impact Self-Assessment Tool for Mobile Operators and engaged with two children’s rights organisations to reflect on the findings. The assessment deepened our understanding of child rights issues across our business and supports our efforts to protect and empower children and respect children’s rights across our organisation.
Child safety in the digital environment
One of the important areas highlighted by the assessment is child safety in the digital environment. We address this by giving children a voice through participation, building digital skills, and providing technical child safeguarding tools as well as joining the fight against child sexual abuse materials online.
Also on the Forum Network: Lifting the Veil of Deceit: Fighting cybercrimes against children by Matti Näsi, University Lecturer, Institute of Criminology and Legal Policy, University of Helsinki
How can we ensure children's safety within the online environment?
Children embrace opportunities online, but many have experienced challenges
In order to give children a voice in their online lives and to let their views continuously shape our work and advocacy efforts, we have organised Telia Children’s Advisory Panels, where together with child rights organisations, and in collaboration with schools, we listen to young Internet users about their online experiences. So far around 12,000 children and young people, 10-18 years old, have participated to describe and discuss the opportunities, benefits, and challenges of life online. We can see that children who joined the panel embrace the opportunities of their life online, but many have faced challenges, such as unwanted messages or contacts by unknown adults. Through Telia Children’s Advisory Panel, young people have shown us for example that:
- initiatives to equip children with the right digital skills are urgently needed;
- more attention should be paid to privacy and safeguarding;
- good connectivity is a major enabler of social inclusion;
- there are opportunities in finding technological solutions for inclusion, mental health and empowerment of young people.
Only one out of five children believed their online skills to be above average, and the majority of these children were boys.
The urgency to equip children with the right digital skills
It is worrying that children in the Telia panels felt like they do not have sufficient skills to address the online risks. For example, only half stated that they had learned in school how to verify information online, and even fewer believed they had learned this skill sufficiently. Only one out of five children believed their online skills to be above average, and the majority of these children were boys.
Telia is addressing this through our digital inclusion agenda, by engaging with children and families through various digital skills programs in our markets. For example, Telia Sweden developed a mobile driving licence for children, together with the child rights organisation Friends, to provide a safe and secure start for youngsters wanting to explore digital life. Telia Finland's collaboration with Save the Children resulted in the launch of a digital parenting package. In Estonia and Lithuania, Telia in collaboration with IT consultancy CGI launched Spoofy, an educational cyber security game.
Technology can help protect children online
Building children’s digital skills and supporting parents in guiding children in their digital lives can be done through the use of child-safeguarding technologies. For example, as part of Telia’s family offering, we provide software that enables parents and guardians to set limits on children’s screen time and block harmful content. Our TV service is equipped with a PIN code functionality that enables parents to restrict access to specific programs or movie rental services. When it comes to technical safeguarding solutions, it is important to clarify that this protection can never replace talking with children about life online.
Supporting the fight against child sexual abuse materials (CSAM) online
Reports of Child Sexual Abuse Materials online have increased over recent years. Research concludes that watching such materials increases the likelihood of abuse offline. Telia actively participates in the fight against CSAM online through blocking measures and cooperation with industry peers, law enforcement agencies and NGOs, such as ECPAT and the World Childhood Foundation. We block websites identified by law enforcement as illegal for hosting CSAM. While we stand for and promote an open Internet, this is the only area where we have taken an active stand to voluntarily block content. Within Telia’s own IT systems, we apply a technical solution that provides alerts if CSAM are detected on the hardware used by our employees or contractual workers. If such material is detected, a police report is filed for a criminal investigation to be carried out.
Integrating children’s rights into business
Telia impact assessment also recognised the integration of child rights aspects across relevant processes within the organisation and in the supply chain. Respecting children’s rights in material business processes such as sourcing, communication, marketing, and product development is vital. The company has governance structures and policies in place and has extensive engagement with both children directly through Children’s Advisory Panels and with child rights organisations, which guide and support this integration.
We have also conducted targeted impact assessments for certain products directed to children, on smartwatches for children. Child privacy perspective is an important part of the data protection impact assessment process.
Telia is using the insights from Children’s Advisory Panels in the product development process. We have also conducted targeted impact assessments for certain products directed to children, on smartwatches for children. Child privacy perspective is an important part of the data protection impact assessment process.
When it comes to marketing, Telia has developed children's rights and responsible marketing guidelines in collaboration with Save the Children’s Centre for Child Rights and Business. The guidelines are available for all marketing teams in the company and external partners to ensure diverse, inclusive, and safe models in marketing and advertising.
The important issues of child labour and decent work for parents and caregivers are addressed in our supplier code of conduct and throughout our responsible sourcing processes.
Better connected living for children and families
As we in Telia continue working toward our purpose to reinvent better connected living, the Child Rights Impact Assessment proved useful to identify Telia’s potential child rights risks, opportunities and impacts across our operations. We will utilise its findings to improve our efforts to protect and empower children and respect children’s rights across our organisation. We will continue to conduct human rights impact assessments on topics and areas identified in our continuous due diligence process.
To learn more, visit the OECD Digital Security website