The effects of media on children and youth – declaration from the 9th International Media Conference

  • Awareness
  • 12/01/2018
  • Hungarian Safer Internet Centre

The 9th International Media Conference took place in Hungary from 27-29 September 2017, focusing on the effects of media on children and youth. Here follows a short report from the event, which resulted in speakers and participants adopting a joint declaration on their goals for the future of the internet.


Due to technological developments, both access to media devices and the way in which media is used has changed in an unprecedented way among children and young adults in recent years. Both research and focus points of previous editions of this conference have recorded this historically significant transformation of media usage with special attention. Research has analysed the trends of change and has explored the critical points of usage and its effects, which have become useful references for those with a responsibility for child protection and/or positive and comprehensive media usage. Therefore, the focus of this year's conference was on retrospection and trend analysis of the results from the previous 20 years, especially since the very first research, and the formation of a concept for this conference, started back in 1997.   

Similar to earlier traditions, the intention of this conference was to focus on different aspects of the relationship between media and the young population namely content, users and institutions. At the end of the conference, speakers and participants adopted a joint statement to provide guidance to the legislators, professionals and users about future goals and developments to be achieved. This statement is reproduced below in full.

The participants of the conference conclude the following:

  1. During digital transformation, the flow of information accelerates.
  2. Only children and young people can keep up with this acceleration. Adults and, in many cases, even the media service providers themselves are lagging behind.
  3. Children use digital devices increasingly and at a younger and younger age (even in kindergarten). This process makes younger and younger and more and more vulnerable age groups the target audience of marketing communications.
  4. Teachers have a key role in bridging this ever-growing gap which has appeared between children and adults regarding the amount and mode of internet use.
  5. Young people have been increasingly using platforms such as YouTube. However, the legal regulation of the exploitation of its commercial potential still has not been performed.
  6. The internet does not only unite but also disunite. Communication within closed groups and personalised news consumption are becoming increasingly important on social media platforms.
  7. Fake news poses an increasing risk even to children. The following provide the most effective protection against fake news:
    - getting information from multiple sources;
    - general literacy;
    - live personal relationships.
  8. At the same time, privacy has become more vulnerable than ever. With the internet, nowadays, an extensive spectrum of observation and data-gathering techniques can be accessed, which could previously be used only by the authorised bodies of the state.
  9. Over the last twenty years, the media consumption of young people has undergone changes never seen before. The fundamental research conducted by the International Children's Safety Service for 20 years are unique documents of this era. These researches have shown that the complex application of traditional and new methodological tools is best suited to explore the area as deeply as possible.

In view of the above, the conference participants:

a) consider it important for the state to continue to comply with its regulatory responsibilities for the protection of children and young people in legislation and law enforcement; consider it important that the service providers be involved in it in a responsible manner according to the laws;

b) consider it important that the parents be able to fulfil their responsible role as educators with the proper amount of knowledge, and apply appropriate forms of mediation in their children's relationship with digital devices;

c) call on the state and market players to support parents and educators to keep pace with children in the world of the internet;

d) have been consistently emphasising the importance of education with their statements for the past twenty years; consider it extremely important that knowledge about media usage be emphasised at all levels of teacher education;

e) find it necessary that teaching digital user knowledge be integrated into the Hungarian education system at a high level so that user knowledge can be considered as part of general literacy;

f) find it essential that digital devices be used as widely as possible in the Hungarian education system in the course of teaching non-IT subjects thus making learning more efficient and easier for children;

g) recognise the extraordinary importance of pedagogical work; call on the state and the school maintainers to provide all possible assistance for them to connect the different generations of the internet society successfully;

h) find that the state should pay special attention to the education and training in the field of IT and internet security for children and young people educated in public care; 

i) call on advertising and marketing industry players to comply with their responsibilities towards society and provide adequate professional self-regulation to protect children and young people in commercial communications, because under no circumstances should a child be regarded as merely a consumer;

j) call on the media and platform operators to strive to provide content and context raising the level of general literacy, since media literacy is far beyond the ability to apply technical skills and knowledge;

k) consider it important to pay particular attention to the transfer of knowledge for recognising fake news;  

l) continue to emphasise the importance of research into the impact of internet and digitisation on children and young people; find that consideration should be given to create a permanent workshop which systematically collects, analyses and makes available research results, curricula, problem-solving techniques related to the internet.

Balatonalmádi, 29 September 2017

Presentations from the conference can be viewed on the Hungarian International Children's Safety Service YouTube channel.

Find out more about the work of the Hungarian Safer Internet Centre (SIC), including its awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services.

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