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Column: Rights of Children in the Digital Age


“…warnings from the American Academy of Pediatrics and American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry are being ignored”

by Frederick Sinclair

The Broadband International Legal Action Network and Americans for Responsible Technology (ART) have joined with an international team of  medical, scientific, and legal professionals from around the world in crafting The International Declaration on the Human Rights of Children in the Digital Age. ART submitted the Declaration to the Secretary General of the United Nations, on World  Children’s Day,  November 20, 2023. Throughout 2024, as the list of signatories continues to grow, updated copies will be provided to several other world organizations.

Three fundamental rights of children are the focus of the Declaration. These legal rights establish that during the deployment and use of telecommunications technology, children have the right to be free from:

  • intentionally addictive devices, platforms and apps.
  •  excessive exposure to wireless radiation.
  •  commercial exploitation.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child currently 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. The Declaration proposes additional and other children’s rights, that are recognized in several other international appeals, and states: ” 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.” The Declaration also goes on to outline in detail associated impacts to children from screen time addiction, addictive algorithms, effects of excess screen time, industry failure to warn of harm, and how warnings from the American Academy of Pediatrics and American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry are being ignored. The full Declaration can be found at

The December 19th issue of The Atlantic posted an article titled “It Sure Looks like Phones Are Making Students Dumber” The author was an admitted skeptic until recent data from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) report

showed  alarming worldwide test scores in decline. PISA is conducted by The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in almost 80 countries every three years, testing 15 year olds in math, reading and science. It is the world’s most famous measure of student ability. According to the Atlantic article, researchers Haidt and Twenge have shown that “various measures of student well-being began a sharp decline around 2012 throughout the West, just as smartphones and social media emerged as the attentional centerpiece of teenage life. Some have even suggested that smart phone usage is so corrosive, it’s systematically reducing student achievement.”

“PISA finds that students who spend less than one hour of ‘leisure’ time on digital devices at school scored about 50 points higher in math than students whose eyes are glued to their screens more than five hours a day. This gap held even after adjusting for socioeconomic factors. For comparison, a 50 point decline in math scores is about four times larger than America’s pandemic-era learning loss in that subject.” Andreas Schleicher, director of the PISA survey, wrote “students who reported feeling distracted by their classmates’ digital habits scored lower in math. Nearly half of students across the OECD said they felt ‘nervous or anxious’ when they didn’t have their digital devices near them.” Authors of the PISA report indicated an unprecedented drop in performance globally that is “nearly three-times as large as any prior change.” The ART webpage  provides a link to the TechSafeSchools project; , and contains the latest information on the science, mitigation, solutions and resources for protecting our children from harmful electromagnetic radiation. Take the time, make the effort to become aware, do what you can to protect the rights and well being of our children. The dramatic drain on intellectual achievement, mental and emotional stability and health of children being captured by addictive devices will be the subject of future articles. 

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