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Palkovics warns against IT sector influencing minors’ internet habits

It is "extremely important" that "the online content consumption and everyday routine of minors" should not be "exclusively shaped by the profits of the technology sector", the minister of innovation and technology told a conference held in Budapest under the auspices of the Hungarian presidency of the ministerial committee of the Council of Europe on Thursday.

Laszlo Palkovics, speaking at the conference dubbed Children’s rights, opportunities, and well-being in the digital age, said that “for the first time in history we must face challenges of how children can use smart devices and the internet in productive, creative, and ethical ways”. It is “obvious”, he said, that the IT sector, which is “the largest recipient of financial and data-related benefits” should be more transparent and proactive to minimise risks for children.

“At stake is what the homo digitalis, the man of tomorrow and its world will look like, and how they can carry on our heritage,” he said, adding that providing digital protection to families and children was crucial. He noted that the Hungarian government had adopted a digital child protection strategy in 2016, but added that it now called for upgrading.

Palkovics highlighted the “unprecedented cooperation” built during the coronavirus pandemic between schools, businesses, and civil groups, adding that lockdown measures led to “irreversible” digitalisation in education. He cited a Hungarian survey, which showed that education was one of the five most important areas in which digital technologies proved crucial in re-organising life under lockdown.

The Hungarian government took similar measures to those of the most developed countries to mitigate the impact of the pandemic and to support needy students, Palkovics said, adding that the government had made provisions for digital technology and content, as well as special assistance to the most vulnerable families.

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