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International Declaration on the Human Rights of Children in the Digital Age

 

Supplementing the 1959 U.N. Declaration on the Rights of the Child

 

Addressed to: the Secretary General of the U.N., Member States of the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, UNICEF, UNESCO, the European Council, WHO, and all others responsible for the protection, safety, and wellbeing of children.
 

Recognizing:

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child guarantees nondiscrimination, devotion to the best interests of the child, the right to life, survival and development, and respect for the views of the child. Other international appeals recognize additional or supplemental rights of children, such as the European Union Action on the Rights of the Child, and the Reykjavik Appeal on Wireless Technology in Schools.
 

The existence of the legal rights of children is well recognized, but not adequately or uniformly enforced, especially when those rights conflict with powerful commercial interests. In this document we set out three fundamental legal rights of children regarding the deployment and use of technology: their right to be free from intentionally addictive devices, platforms and apps; their right to be free from excessive exposure to radiation; and their right to be free from commercial exploitation.
 

The legal duty to protect children and enforce these rights on their behalf is the obligation of all adults, particularly parents, legal guardians and others in positions of authority. This protection of children is a basic legal principle that we believe will increasingly be recognized as a part of international customary law critical to our collective survival.

 

Screen Time Addiction
 

  • Social media platforms are intentionally designed with algorithms to encourage addiction of young people and children.

  • The harmful effects of excess screen time are well documented in the scientific literature, including mental health disorders, addiction, depression, anxiety, memory loss, increasing rates of suicide, loss of sleep, learning disorders, irritability, anger, and other behavioral changes, cyberbullying and harassment.

  • The duty of care of corporate social media platform owners and operators is clear; the harms are foreseeable; the causal link between screen time addiction and consequent harms is recognized even by the social media platform owners and operators themselves who provide devices to monitor this exposure; there are few if any warnings to parents and children of the dangers; millions of children are being harmed, and their families disrupted.

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued warnings regarding safe screen time for children under 3 years of age, and also for teenagers. These warnings are repeated by the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. They are being ignored.

Involuntary Exposure to Non-Ionizing Radiation
 

  • A large and growing body of independent, peer-reviewed scientific studies demonstrates that man-made polarized non-ionizing radiation (NIR), or more commonly referred to as EMF/RF is a primary source of bioactivity in all living things.

  • There is an urgent need to understand better the correlation of exposure to NIR with biological effects, including acute effects such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, insomnia, lack of concentration, and brain fog, as well as chronic effects including DNA damage and cancer; these physical effects are negatively synergistic with screen time addiction.

  • The growing number of NIR-emitting wireless devices (e.g. Wi-Fi) in homes, schools, daycare centers, and workplaces, together with supporting infrastructure, is increasing children’s continuous and cumulative radiation exposure from: cell phones, laptops, tablets, computers, routers, gaming consoles, wearables, internet of things, smart meters, robots, small cell and macro towers, satellite base stations.

  • Government agencies have set maximum recommended NIR exposure limits based on decades- old assumptions (e.g. only thermal heating of cells is bioactive, and that maximum exposure levels to adults also apply to children) that do not protect children.

  • Neither NIR exposure levels nor their related health impacts on children are being monitored, thus leaving parents, healthcare practitioners, and governments uninformed about the current dangers to health as well as impact on future generations..

  • Misleading claims of safe exposure levels made by governmental regulatory bodies and advisory bodies such as ICNIRP are amplified by the media and the purveyors of these wireless devices and services.
     

Commercial Exploitation
 

  • Confidential and private personal information concerning children is being monetized by data harvesters, in most countries without the informed consent of parents, guardians, and other responsible persons in direct violation of national and international policies, laws, and regulations that protect the privacy of children.

  • The accelerating development and ubiquitous deployment of Artificial Intelligence (AI) raises profound ethical questions that need to be urgently examined concerning the potential risks to children.

  • In most countries, many parents lack up-to-date and accurate information about the potential exploitation of their children resulting from exposure to digital devices and are thus unable to take effective action to protect their children from these risks.

    Recognizing Further:

  • The urgent need to investigate, control, and embargo imports of electronic components and products containing minerals extracted by enforced child labor under dehumanizing conditions.

  • The importance of adopting the Precautionary Principle as an operative and applicable guideline for providing safe learning environments for children.

  • The importance of promoting goals such as ALARA (As Low As Reasonably Achievable) when it comes to exposing children to NIR environments.

Now Therefore, the undersigned endorse and strongly advocate that the following principles and actions be immediately adopted by national and local governments and legislators, and by administrators in public and private schools around the world as constituting wise and best practices:

  • We recognize that children have a fundamental human right to be free from intentionally addictive devices, platforms, and apps, the right to be free from excessive exposure to radiation, and the right to be free from commercial exploitation.

  • We urge the immediate adoption and implementation of international standards regarding children's exposure to, and use of, social media platforms that encourage addiction.

  • We call upon school administrators and government officials to establish safe learning environments that are free from or involve minimal exposure to NIR, utilizing best available monitoring technologies pursuant to the ALARA principle (As Low As Reasonable Achievable).

  • We strongly recommend broad public education on the unique health risks of continued exposure of children to addictive and harmful platforms and potentially dangerous levels of radiation, and the legal fiduciary obligations of administrators to discharge these responsibilities.

  • We urgently appeal to physicians and other health care providers to inform themselves and receive professional training in behavioral and physical problems related to screen time, and the new medical discipline of clinical electromagnetics.

  • We seek financial support and compensation for families that cannot afford professional medical care for children evidencing serious Electromagnetic Sensitivity (EMS), and that these relief programs be paid for by wireless telecom purveyors, pursuant to the 1972 OECD “Polluter Pays Principle.”

  • We support collaborative innovation among technology providers that creates incentives for them to compete on safety, particularly protective of children.

  • We strongly encourage innovative ways to finance this fundamental and evolutionary shift in public conscience and awareness.

  • We call on people of good will everywhere to express their urgent appeals for the protection of children and future generations by signing this Declaration and supporting legal and other protective actions embodying its spirit.

     

To add your name to the list of signatories, please email your affiliations and credentials to daw@grassrootsinfo.org
 

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