Children are increasingly exposed to online content, through a growing range of mobile devices, and at ever younger ages. At the same time, they have specific needs and vulnerabilities which need to be addressed.
Ways to limit and prohibit the spread of illicit and harmful media content in relation to young people have been debated for many years. Striking a balance between the rights and interests of young viewers on the one hand and the freedom of expression of content providers (and adults in general) on the other, requires a carefully designed regulatory scheme.
In recent years, traditional (State) regulation has come under increased scrutiny. Gradually, less intrusive mechanisms, such as self- and co-regulation, have started replacing State regulation in a move towards user-empowerment.
This type of logic has governed the implementation of binding rules at EU level via the Audiovisual Media Services Directive. For online content and video games, the Commission supports a number of self-regulatory initiatives such as the Coalition to Make the Internet a Better Place for Kids and the Pan European Game Information System.
The European Parliament, however, considers that this type of initiative cannot replace legally binding instruments, and that only a combination of legal, technical and educational measures, including prevention, can adequately address the dangers faced by children online.