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Defending Young People’s Rights in the Digital World

YoungScot 5Rights Youth Leadership Group

Alex O’Reilly is a member of YoungScot’s 5Rights Youth Leadership Group, who promote the rights of children and young people in Scotland by exploring how they can be protected in the digital world. In this blog, he talks about what the Group’s been doing.

Close to a year ago, the 5Rights Youth Leadership Group came to formation as a follow-up to the initial work by the Young Scot 5Rights Youth Commission on the 5Rights Framework.

5Rights is an initiative that aims to enable young people to access the digital world creatively, knowledgeably, and fearlessly, and its framework contextualises the rights already promised to young people by the UNCRC for the context of the digital world.

The 5Rights are:

  • The right to remove,
  • The right to know,
  • The right to safety and support,
  • The right to informed and conscious use, and
  • The right to digital literacy.

The establishment of the group by Young Scot,the Scottish Government, and the 5Rights Foundation meant that young people’s rights would be explored and protected by developing practices which would be implemented in our ever-growing digital society. The group was launched with the aim of keeping young people empowered and raising awareness of young people’s rights associated with digital platforms.

Logo: 5Rights Youth Leadership Group

Our work, and the 5Rights Summit

Since the launch, the passionate group of youths – including myself – have further divided into subgroups, enabling us to focus on more specific themes that we can individually improve, such as how businesses – and young people in particular –could assist our overall aim in maintaining a sustainable online environment for young people.

As part of the project, last summer I attended a cybersecurity course in order to gain knowledge around the complex online world. I class myself as a beginner in computing science, yet it seemed easy to access others’ details and exert control on their devices. This was an eye-opening experience and highlighted how urgent and relevant the 5Rights project is.

The various issues in the digital world can only be addressed and challenged if we understand them, so the separate subgroups spent many months in the exploration stages gathering evidence on different aspects of our projects and similar successful schemes which have worked well— looking into how we could develop something similar. It was essential we looked at how we can keep our strategy in place for future generations after it’s been developed.

During early October 2018, the biggest event yet in the 5Rights calendar commenced—the 5Rights Summit, where over 100 policymakers, stakeholders and young people from all parts of the British Isles gathered with the 5Rights Youth Leadership Group to discuss young people’s rights in the digital world. This was a brilliant chance for us to share our work and achievements so far whilst gaining feedback which will allow us to progress greatly in our project.


Knowing Our Rights Online

Safe online spaces are available but can certainly be difficult to find. Personally, I would recommend TOSDR (Terms of service; didn’t read), a
platform which summarises terms and conditions into simple, understandable statements. This website is ideal for someone like myself who would like to know what I’m signing myself up to— without reading the endless pages of policies. I would also like to highlight there are many support pages for those experiencing issues and difficulties online like ChildlineChildnet and Mind.

I also can’t stress enough how important it is to avoid posting too much personal information online, know who you are talking to, and to look for
the features which confirm the website you are using is secure: for example, the lock button in the search bar when a website is loading.

The Young Scot 5Rights Youth Leadership Group is now in the stages of turning our plans into reality. Despite challenging barriers, we are
nearing a time in which young people will have full knowledge, understanding and protection whilst using digital platforms.

For more information about the Young Scot 5Rights Youth Leadership Group, please visit or contact