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Identification of Good Practice in Youth Media Protection: an International Comparison

Identification of Good Practice in Youth Media Protection: an International Comparison

Youth Protection meets a variety of new challenges due to new provider and supply structures, new technologies and services, as well as current developments in media equipment and the media use of minors. For a modern legal system, it is important to be prepared for these developments beforehand or to adequately respond to them. The study, which was conducted on behalf of the Swiss Federal Government in 2013 and 2014, provides an overview of the current systems that are in place for protecting minors in an international comparison based on fourteen selected countries. It identifies approaches of good regulatory practice ("Good Practice"), examines these on their transferability to Switzerland on basis of expert interviews and gives recommendations for a modern Swiss system to protect children against harmful media.

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Project Description

In the context of the Swiss programme “Young People and the Media” (see also “Trends in Development and Media Use in the Area of Digital Media and Challenges for Youth Media Protection”), the Institute has carried out a study in cooperation with colleagues from the University of Fribourg (Switzerland) and the University Chur.
The project envisaged a comparative study of regulatory models for youth protection in various European and non-European countries. The study analyses the strengths and weaknesses of the various approaches in 14 countries, including their respective legal foundations, an extended description and analysis of the interaction of state and private actors in youth media protection, as well as complementary measures in areas of preventive and pedagogical measures and current political discussions. Subsequently, examples for Good Practice are identified and tested in order to see if they appear sensible and practicable for Switzerland. The country’s current system was included in the comparative exposition.
Two of the most important results of the international comparison are that youth protection in all of the 14 analysed countries is a politically relevant issue. However, there was no country in which the protection of minors follows a systematic, strategic and forwardly-open approach. All examined systems showed situations that grew primarily traditionally, resulting in more or less fragmented “patchworks” that respond to new developments in individual areas spontaneously, for example, in case of particularly sensational cyberbullying events. Regarding online risks, few countries have specific youth protection frameworks that go beyond general criminal law.
Nevertheless, a variety of detailed good practice approaches can be identified when looking at single regulatory patterns. Such approaches can also be considered for a modern youth protection framework in Switzerland.
The study discusses these approaches with experts from the relevant stakeholder groups, ranging from the administration at the federal and cantonal level, industry representatives, to the field of science. On this basis, the study presents ten final recommendations. Two basic insights of the study regarding their implementation: Firstly, a modern structure of governance for youth protection is only possible with an early systematic and institutionalised involvement of content and infrastructure providers in the regulatory discourse; secondly, a promising boost for the establishment of such platforms, as well as the momentum for the participation of companies that are already committed to youth protection and those that are not yet active, has to originate from the state.
The project had a duration of 13 months. It was completed in July 2014 and published in 2015.  

Project Information


Duration: 2013-2014

Research programme:
RP3 - Knowledge for the Media Society

Cooperation Partner

Prof. Dr. Manuel Puppis (Universität Fribourg)
Prof. Dr. Matthias Künzler (FU Berlin)

Contact person

Dr. Stephan Dreyer
Senior Researcher Media Law & Media Governance

Dr. Stephan Dreyer

Leibniz-Institut für Medienforschung │ Hans-Bredow-Institut (HBI)
Rothenbaumchaussee 36
20148 Hamburg

Tel. +49 (0)40 45 02 17 - 33
Fax +49 (0)40 45 02 17 - 77

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