The 21st century has been characterized by tremendous changes in mass-media systems. The rapid growth of the Internet, inspired by the progress of communication technologies and digitalization, has resulted in the rise of new interactive media. Developments contributing to the scope and speed of media production and distribution have drawn particular attention to the information security of audiences – in particular, to protecting children from content that might be harmful and not appropriate for their age. Unlike adults, who are accustomed to living in an information-rich society, children cannot understand and filter content. Digital media, with their profound effects on a young audience, definitely affect children’s psychology and emotions.
Recognizing this development, the most economically advanced countries have elaborated specific media policies to ensure that children receive the advantages of new media and simultaneously are kept safe from harmful content. These policies, aimed at traditional media (press and analogue broadcasting), have been based on legal approaches, but in digital reality laws do not always produce the same desired effects because the law-making process often does not keep up with technological change. Governments, therefore, have to share their responsibilities with the nongovernmental – private business and civil– sectors. Even countries with strong government influence over public life, such as Singapore, are working toward a co-regulated and self-regulated mass-media industry. Many foreign countries, including those in Western Europe, North America, and Asia, already have experience with these policies.
The article reviews practices in the field of media aimed at guaranteeing children’s information security and at opposing harmful content. It points to key aspects of the regulation of market-driven media content in different countries.
Keywords: mass media, children’s information security, children and the mass media, self-regulation of the mass media, Internet regulation