UNICEF/Viet Hung

Better Business

Children’s Rights in the

Digital Environment

The rights of every child must be respected, protected and fulfilled in the digital environment

  • UN Committee on the rights of the child, general comment no. 25 (2021) on children’s rights in relation to the digital environment.

Digital technologies and children’s rights

Digital technologies have the potential to support children’s rights in a wide variety of ways – they provide access to information, educational opportunities, play experiences, and much more. But children also face risks and harms when navigating the digital environment. These risks can be hard for children and caregivers to navigate.

UNICEF is collaborating with companies, governments, and civil society to promote children’s rights related to the Internet and associated technologies. Together with key partners, UNICEF is working on issues such as ending online child sexual exploitation and abuse and good governance of children’s data. UNICEF is also working with corporate partners to harness digital technologies to provide opportunities for children to be engaged digital citizens and use digital platforms to learn, share, and communicate. Beyond the need for safeguarding and protection, we know there is powerful potential in the digital environment to support children’s well-being and help them reach their full potential.


Nordic Business Roundtable on Children’s Rights in the Digital Environment

Together with the LEGO Group, UNICEF Denmark kicked off a series of business dialogues focusing on opportunitiesand challenges for fostering children’s rights and enhancing children’s well-being. The first dialogue discussedchildren’s rights in the digital environment and focused on data governance, marketing practices, and design.


“A product that is good for children will be good for everyone ‘; Nordic companies suggest a comprehensive approach to keeping children safe and enhancing their wellbeing online.

We don’t go online, we live online. According to a report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy in 2021, 80 per cent of children living in developed Western countries have a digital footprint before they are 2 years old. Digital technology has changed the world, and as more and more children, parents, and caregivers spend their time online, childhoods are changing.

Digital technologies can support children’s rights in a wide variety of ways – from providing access to information, educational opportunities, play experiences, and much more. But children also face risks and harms when navigating the digital environment.

At UNICEF Denmark, we know that there is much that companies can do in keeping children safe and enhance their well-being online. For businesses across industries, the foundation for an impactful and responsible strategy is laid by robust child rights due diligence, including a child rights impact assessment of digital practices. However, when it comes to implementing concrete measures, evidence on ‘what works’ is critical.

To discuss and share challenges and opportunities around integrating children’s rights across digital business practices, UNICEF Denmark and the LEGO Group brought together 17 influential companies from the Nordic region. With UNICEF presenting on key issues and progress over the last decade, the LEGO Group shared its journey of implementing the 10 Children’s Rights and Business Principles – and in particular their work to integrate children’s rights, safety, and well-being into digital products and engagements. With this as an example, participants discussed challenges, risks and knowledge gaps, as well as opportunities in data governance, digital design, and marketing practices.

Prioritizing Child Well-Being in a Digital Age: A Call to Action for Companies

The LEGO Group and UNICEF have joined forces to form the Responsible Innovation in Technology for Children (RITEC) project, funded by the LEGO Foundation, to explore how businesses and policymakers can create a digital world that prioritizes the well-being of children. As digital technology plays an increasingly important role in children’s development, the RITEC project aims to create practical tools for businesses and governments that will empower them to put the well-being of children at the centre of digital design.

The discussion reflected perspectives from industries including retail, telco, and online gaming. Three cross-cutting themes emerged:


It starts with commitment: Companies suggest focussing on the long-term business case.Businesses should embrace a longer-term perspective when committing to children’s rights rather than a focus on short-term costs. This shift in perspective can be supported by evidence on how today’s investments in prioritising children’s rights not only support children but also might help companies in the future – both in mitigating risks but also in creating better products in the long run. As one participant put it, “A product that is good for children will be good for everyone.

Plan with a child lens in mind: Informed and meaningful child engagement is key.Across the topics of data governance, digital design and online marketing, the need to include a child rights lens into the development process for products, standards, and policies became evident. Companies strongly voiced the importance of including children and adolescents’ perspectives into the development process. They also acknowledged the unique challenges involved in this and highlighted the lack of best practices and guidance. The need emerged to better understand participatory approaches that empower and include children.

Implementing a child lens is a cross-company effort, not an individual team challenge.Participants determined that standards like committing to children’s rights must be implemented on a strategic level with a structural approach—despite discussing challenges of generating momentum. When individuals see the children’s rights connection to their role, organisational alignment can thrive in the future.

Additionally, the following challenges and ideas were raised in relation to more specific topics:

  • Responsible Data Governance: The discussion around data brought up the challenge of meeting varying standards and legislation in different locations and countries. Participants raised the question about the trade-off between complying with the respective minimum national standard versus adapting the highest standard and hence raising the bar throughout.
  • Digital Products and Design: Including a child lens can be an opportunity to design something better rather than being a limitation. The conversation brought up the guideline of “less of the bad – more of the good – meaning a clear distinction between the non-negotiables, like safety, and product improvement, like evaluating design choices for positive outcomes.
  • Digital Marketing: The discussion on digital marketing took its departure from one participant sharing that their company’s dedicated efforts on responsible marketing had evolved as a main focus area from their human rights impact assessment. In terms of implementation, the group discussed challenges experienced by advertisers relating to keeping control of over where and to whom digital advertising is served.


The Nordic business roundtable underlined the need for companies to expand their sustainability focus and conduct robust human rights due diligence, with an explicit and comprehensive child rights focus, within the framework of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Thorough due diligence should extend beyond operations and include both upstream activities (suppliers and contractors) and downstream activities (intended and unintended consumers and audiences). This is the foundation for delivering real positive impact for children. To support this call, we heard the clear ask from company participants for further evidence on the business case for incorporating a child rights lens.

We remain optimistic while acknowledging the long road ahead to ensure broad respect for children’s rights by all businesses in the digital environment. A growing toolbox, including evidence and actionable guidance for businesses, is supporting practitioners and decision makers to incorporate children’s rights in their digital practices. The Nordic Business Roundtable on Children’s Rights in the Digital Environment sparked confidence and participants and organisers left the conversation feeling inspired. The road ahead won’t be travelled fast, but having joined forces, it will be travelled far.

A set of tools and guidelines around CRB in the Digital Environment has been developed over the last decade that will serve as enablers:

Children and Digital Marketing: Industry Toolkit This toolkit aims to provide detailed advice for companies committed to considering the experiences of children along the digital marketing value chain.

Child Online Safety Assessment Tool (COSA) The Child Online Safety Assessment Tool is designed to support ICT companies in assessing how children’s rights can be more effectively integrated into their operations and aims to empower companies to strengthen their child protection policies, codes of conduct and due diligence processes. COSA Excel Tool.

Children’s Online Privacy & Freedom of Expression: Industry Toolkit The Guidelines for Industry on Child Online Protection explore the corporate responsibility to respect children’s rights in a digital world. This document also offers a checklist for businesses to initiate a standalone review of policies and practices, or to integrate child rights considerations into existing and regular assessments.

Guidelines for industry on Child Online Protection This document offers guidance for ICT industry stakeholders to build their own child online protection (COP) resources. The guidelines focus on protecting children in all areas and against all risks of the digital world and, as such, highlight good practice of industry stakeholders that can be considered in the process of drafting, developing and managing company COP policies.

The Case for Better Governance of Children’s Data: A Manifesto This Manifesto includes key action points and a call for a governance model purposefully designed to deliver on the needs and rights of children.

FOR MOBILE OPERATORS MO-CRIA: Child Rights Impact Self-Assessment Tool for Mobile Operators The Mobile Operator Child Rights Self-Impact Assessment Tool (MO-CRIA) is designed to strengthen business practices, policies, and processes, with the purpose of making it possible for children worldwide to safely explore and enjoy the best of what the information and communication technology industry has to offer. You will find a guide, and an Excel-based questionnaire.

FOR ONLINE GAMING COMPANIES Recommendations_for_Online_Gaming_Industry.pdf This document offers recommendations for online gaming companies of all kinds – game developers, publishers, distributors, platforms, esports companies and streaming services – to assess their current practices and identify areas where they can improve or make a difference in relation to the rights of children.

CASE STUDIES LEGO_supplier_training.pdf LEGO collaborated with a key supplier in India to develop and implement training on child rights, offered through the creation of the LEGO Academy.

MILLICOM_casestudy.pdf Millicom carried out a mobile operator child rights impact self-assessment using the Children’s Rights and Business Principles to gain insight into where they could improve their responsibility to respect and support children’s rights.

Case_study_Safaricom.pdf Safaricom has built upon the Children’s Rights in Business Principles through developing their own Children’s Rights and Business Policy.

Find more resources on: Children’s rights & Internet.