Redefining Attainment of the Best Interests of the Child in the Digital World

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In the offline world, education for children does not aim to solely equip them with information. It endeavors to develop in them an ability to interact with the world wisely and critically, while building resilience and a will to participate with effective contribution. They are taught to be agents of their own lives and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) confers on them the rights which enable this process of development. However, the UNCRC was adopted as early as 1989, and the children of today are growing up in an increasingly digital environment. This brings to light the need for the recognition of rights online as well as offline, in order to allow children to not merely be users but responsible citizens of the virtual world. This essentially means that the Articles of the Convention require an extension in their scope, and expansive interpretation in national policies, to fulfill the requirement of the ‘best interests of the child’ being the primary consideration guiding action. Article 3 of the UNCRC sets out the principle of the best interests of the child, which requires relevant authorities to (i) assess and represent rights and interests in nexus with actions and decisions which affect their well being, (ii)consider the views and take account of the evolving capacities of the child and (iii)promote measures to train and support those responsible for the well-being of the child. In doing so, the UNCRC echoes the ‘paramount consideration’ threshold in the enacting of laws, as laid down by the Declaration on the Rights of the Child, 1959. Legal instruments specific to children...