Protecting and empowering minors online requires continuous, multidisciplinary and transnational approaches. The Better Internet for Kids initiative lays the foundations for building a global cyber-culture, in which children become responsible digital citizens.
Again this year was rich of activities and challenges for the EC and the Insafe and INHOPE networks: a new Alliance to better protect minors online gathering more than 20 key industry players, NGOs and UNICEF was launched; a wide range of stakeholders were mobilised through large-scale events such as Safer Internet Day and the campaign on Positive Online Content; Safer Internet Centres kept up with the latest developments and engaged in exchange of best practices and knowledge on pressing issues such as fake news and data protection; the helplines offered support for emerging phenomena such as the Blue Whale Challenge; and the hotlines contributed to a faster take down of child sexual abuse material.
Providing a better digital environment for young users will remain a priority in the EC’s agenda and we will continue to enable cooperation at European level and beyond, provide financial support, and contribute to a regulatory framework fit for purpose.
Deputy Director-General of DG CONNECT at the European Commission
Building on a succession of Safer Internet programmes, Better Internet for Kids (BIK) is the latest European Commission-funded initiative aimed at creating a better internet for Europe’s children and youth. The BIK initiative is now in its second cycle under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) funding instrument. This report provides an insight into some of the key achievements and areas of focus during the first year of the second phase of BIK, covering the timeframe from approximately October 2016 to September 2017.
BIK is managed on behalf of the European Commission by European Schoolnet (EUN), which coordinates the Insafe network of awareness centres, helplines and youth panels, in partnership with INHOPE (the International Association of Internet Hotlines), dedicated to the removal of illegal online content. These combined strands are commonly referred to as Safer Internet Centres (SICs), operating in 30 European countries in the drive to keep children and young people safe online.
Jointly, European Schoolnet and INHOPE support SICs in responding to the latest online issues, helping to promote the many opportunities the online world offers, while also addressing the challenges. And while Europe’s children and youth are the main benefactors of this work, BIK also reaches out to, and collaborates with, a range of other stakeholders - parents and carers, teachers and educators, researchers, industry, civil society, decision makers and law enforcement – so reflecting the fact that we all have a role to play in creating a better internet. Increasingly, BIK reaches beyond Europe and impacts upon better internet approaches right across the globe.
Through BIK, European Schoolnet and INHOPE work together to support a network of Safer Internet Centres (SICs) across Europe. Typically delivering services via an awareness centre, helpline, hotline and youth panel, SICs provide a focal point in each country for a range of activities aimed at creating a better internet for children and young people.
Although the structure and formation of a SIC will vary slightly country to country, all SICs deliver services directly to those stakeholders that most need them – that is, children and young people, and those that care for them, such as parents, carers, teachers, educators and other professionals in the children’s workforce.
In delivering these “frontline” services, SICs also collaborate with a range of other stakeholders – namely, the research community, industry, policy makers and civil society, to ensure a coherent national approach to online safety.
The BIK initiative then provides the pan-European dimension on top of this by providing an environment where national SICs can collaborate to share experience, expertise and resources, and develop collective responses to emerging issues. The promotion of the BIK agenda in international meetings and dialogues provides a further global dimension, increasingly positioning Europe as a leader in the field through its actions and initiatives.
Through the BIK model, SICs are supported in developing capacity to respond to new and emerging issues, and can better tailor services to the needs of their various stakeholders. To give some examples, regular training meetings for both the Insafe and INHOPE networks bring SIC colleagues together, face to face, to discuss issues and challenges, learn from experts in the field, and develop common approaches based on evidence and good practice. A secure online community allows SIC colleagues to discuss issues in online forums, or participate in online training. Network-wide events and campaigns allow SICs to share a common message, with the combined effect having a greater “voice” than each country standing alone.
The benefits of the BIK model also play out into collaborations with other stakeholders. Through the helpline strand, for example, relationships have been developed with key industry players providing regular opportunities for two-way exchange of information to help make products and services safer by design. By learning from the experiences of helplines - and the end users they represent - industry can better respond to any issues identified on their platforms, allowing for better online experiences and outcomes for all users, but especially children and young people.
Insafe awareness centres deliver a range of awareness-ranging actions, including developing resources, hosting trainings and events, and working with young people through youth panels and similar.
In 2016, Insafe SICs created approximately 2,500 new resources covering a range of eSafety topics such as cyberbullying and media literacy.
In 2016, Insafe SICs reached approximately 3 million people through events and trainings.
In 2016, Insafe SICs reported that more than 5,000 young people directly participated in activities, with many more reached indirectly through online actions and campaigns.
Insafe helplines provide support services for young people (and their parents, carers, teachers and other adults) via telephone, email and online chat services.
In 2016, Insafe helplines received more than
36,000 contacts with cyberbullying being the most common issue, closely followed by
love, relationships and sexuality.
INHOPE hotlines deal with illegal content online and are committed to stamping out child sexual abuse material (CSAM) from the internet. In 2016, INHOPE hotlines received more than 9 million reports via its global network of hotlines of which more than
210,000 were processed 1.
1 These figures represent all INHOPE member hotlines, not just those which are EC funded
30 Safer Internet Centres (SICs) in Europe.
Approximately 100 additional Safer Internet Day Committees and Supporters across the globe support BIK aims through the landmark annual campaign.
A growing number of stakeholders across research, industry and civil society support the BIK agenda locally, nationally and internationally.
Click on the map to find out more about support and services by country.
It seems that barely a day goes by without the latest online challenge or craze hitting the headlines. While media coverage can sometimes be useful in raising public awareness of online safety risks, it can also present further challenges in terms of raising public concerns unnecessarily, presenting a “half picture”, or intensifying awareness of a potential issue without offering possible solutions or support mechanisms. It is in such instances that the network of Safer Internet Centres as supported under BIK can come into its own, drawing on the knowledge and expertise within the network to fully consider the issues, comparing experiences across the European landscape, preparing strategic responses based on evidence from helpline contacts and working directly with youth, developing resources and support materials, and generally providing help and advice through its various service strands. Here, we consider a few recent issues to exemplify the benefits of the BIK model…
Fake news has become a real hot topic over the last year or so. Predominantly emerging into public consciousness following the US presidential elections towards the end of last year when fake news was claimed to impact both candidates and possibly influence US voters’ decision-making processes, it has also been linked to the European political landscape in instances such as the French presidential elections and the UK’s Brexit vote. Since then, the concept of fake news has been linked to all aspects of society – whether termed as attention-grabbing headlines, clickbait or hoaxes – with a key concern being how fast fake news proliferates and spreads online, quickly going viral.
Put simply, fake news is any information that is designed to misinform, mislead or manipulate readers. Reasons for it are many and varied, ranging from political to financial gain, to mere satire. Linked with this, we are seeing an increase in “filter bubbles” and “echo chambers” – that is, restricting the view of what readers might see online, or only presenting information which matches their existing ideas or beliefs, as a result of personalised searches based on complex search algorithms. A response to this, in its simplest form, is to help children develop media literacy skills from the earliest of ages. In brief, media literacy is the ability to access, analyse, evaluate and create media, empowering users to critically evaluate what they see and hear on the internet, television, radio, billboards, video games and other forms of media. Empowering children and young people with media literacy skills is an approach which underpins much of the BIK agenda, and is a key feature of the work of all Safer Internet Centres.
Recognising the importance of discussing challenges relating to fake news and associated issues at a network level, this became the focus topic for an Insafe network Training meeting in May 2017. Expert in the field, Martina Chapman, addressed attendees on this highly-topical issue in the context of digital media consumption and creation, considering the potential role that some social norms and human behaviours play. Subsequent to this, Martina also provided an extensive editorial article for the June 2017 edition of the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) bulletin on the role that critical media literacy, supported by cross-sector collaboration and coordination, may have in countering these issues. The article built on the network-wide discussions at the Training meeting, while several Safer Internet Centres also contributed with articles detailing their localised experiences, actions and resources. In line with the BIK strategy of reflecting “the voice of youth” wherever possible, four Insafe youth ambassadors gave their viewpoints too, focusing on the importance of critical thinking skills for the younger generation.
In response to the fake news phenomenon, several Safer Internet Centres have created resources on this topic, for a variety of stakeholders…
The Austrian Safer Internet Centre is addressing the fake news challenge with a bingo card, parental video guide and educational material for teachers. Find out more on the BIK portal.
The UK Safer Internet Centre promotes four quick checks for fake news which anyone can draw upon: Who posted it?; When was it posted?; Why was it created?; What is it saying? Find out more on the BIK portal.
Over the course of the year, the media has regularly reported on the Blue Whale Challenge (BWC): a new and disturbing “online game of death”. While there is no concrete information on the existence of such a game, the speculation and buzz which has been created by it is worrying.
Children and young people have always been interested in taking up challenges, competing against others and doing dares, and the internet and social media has certainly given wider publicity to this type of activity. Things like the ice-bucket challenge and the cinnamon challenge are two such examples which gained popularity thanks to the internet. Early in 2017, reports started to emerge about the BWC – a “suicide game” which had apparently originated in Russia. Widely reported in the international press, the story tells of a game in which young people are given a series of challenges over 50 consecutive days eventually culminating in suicide.
In April 2017, representatives of the European network of Safer Internet Centres (SICs) and other key stakeholders attended a webinar on the issue resulting in the publication of an article on the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) portal. Insafe helplines, in particular, acknowledged that although the Blue Whale Challenge may have initially been a hoax or fake news, it was becoming increasingly problematic as seen through various helpline reports. There were concerns that some young people (as well as adults) were exploiting the fear around it to encourage others to self-harm and carry out various dares and post the results online stating that it was part of the Blue Whale Challenge.
Following ongoing media attention, a session at the Insafe Training meeting in May 2017 was again dedicated to the topic, with SIC staff sharing their experiences in terms of national press reactions and tips on how to address the issues which had been created through public misinformation about the phenomena.
In Bulgaria, issues surrounding the Blue Whale Challenge peaked in mid-February 2017, with the first reports being received through the Bulgarian Safer Internet Centre’s Facebook page. In order to better inform themselves, the Bulgarian SIC team undertook some investigations into previous reporting on the BWC from 2015 to date, identifying some articles by investigative journalists as part of the process. The SIC established that, over the years, social media sites have been integral in sharing “news” on the Blue Whale Challenge, typically pointing to clickbait websites where it is difficult to respond, find contacts, and so on in order to ascertain the veracity of such stories.
The main approach adopted by the Bulgarian SIC team was to counter the sharing of fake news on the BWC by commenting on social media posts and pointing readers to a story on its own website, laying out the facts and presenting a balanced viewpoint.
The Polish Safer Internet Centre first had an issue with the Blue Whale Challenge in March 2017 when they received several calls from children saying that they had been playing the game. The Polish media had published an article at the end of February which raised awareness; the peak of media hype was mid-March with reporting focusing on danger, harm and suicide. The key peak of media activity was the weekend of 19 March 2017; following this, the helpline received lots of calls from parents who were very anxious – some reported removing routers from the home and similar extreme measures.
While the media messages were strong they were also unclear, leaving parents confused and worried about how much of a risk it presented; schools panicked as they didn’t know what they could say to parents; and the Ministry issued a document saying how dangerous the BWC was (also focusing on gaming in general, including research results on online gaming). The Ministry document had misinformed people and caused panic, and the recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) for media on how to report on suicide were not being observed. Meanwhile, children were reporting that it was fun to find a mentor and play the game, and there were also reports of young people self-harming by cutting the Blue Whale symbol on their arms – the image had been shown in the media reporting.
In response, the Polish SIC quickly published some guidance for teachers and parents on how to talk to children about online risks and concerns in general. Later, it published some guidance specifically on the Blue Whale Challenge and the fact that this was, in essence, fake news.
While the hype regarding the Blue Whale Challenge had since faded, the network has continued to follow the story closely, regularly sharing information through closed community tools to help increase capacity to respond to ongoing issues and similar situations in the future.
As with fake news, the key to addressing such issues lies in equipping children and young people with media literacy skills so that can make informed decisions about the content they encounter online, and how to react to it. Indeed, as a colleague from the Bulgarian Safer Internet Centre so eloquently stated:
“While the Blue Whale Challenge has taught us a very valuable lesson, it won’t be the last time we are faced by such a challenge. We must therefore draw on our strengths: the Insafe network as a whole, our expertise (both individually and collectively), and our reach to youth, parents, teachers and institutions in delivering media literacy messages.”
The Positive Online Content Campaign (POCC) is a new activity being delivered under the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) line of work within the current phase. Coordinated by European Schoolnet with the support of members of the Insafe network and the former POSCON (Positive Online Content and Services for Children in Europe) thematic network, the campaign aims to put positive content and the importance of better online experiences for young children back in the spotlight (building also on previous initiatives, such as the European Award for Best Content for Kids).
In particular, it aims to raise awareness about the importance of ensuring that young children (of up to 12 years of age) have access to the best possible online content available.
As part of the campaign, a new minisite was launched in September 2017 at www.betterinternetforkids.eu/positive-content . At the core of the site is a directory of examples of positive online content, contributed by SICs based on localised knowledge, and filtered for the needs of each stakeholder: children and young people, parents and caretakers, teachers and educators, and content providers and producers. Alongside these examples, the minisite promotes a comprehensive checklist of criteria (updated from the former POSCON work) explaining what to look for when designing digital content or when choosing online content for children.
As part of the campaign, an Awareness Week took place 25-29 September 2017, with each day dedicated to raising awareness of positive content concepts with a different stakeholder group. A highlight report focusing on the successes of the campaign will be published in late 2017.
From May 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will take effect in the EU. The GDPR aims to strengthen, simplify and harmonise data protection regimes across Europe, giving individuals control over how their data are processed. It also explicitly acknowledges that children merit specific protection.
Yet, from a children’s rights perspective, Article 8 – which contains requirements regarding parental consent for the processing of personal data of children under 16 (or 15, 14 or 13, if Member States so legislate) – has sparked a great deal of controversy and confusion. In addition, provisions regarding profiling and their application to children are the subject of diverging views.
Against this background, a roundtable was organised in Brussels, Belgium in June 2017 in collaboration with Ghent University and KU Leuven. The event brought together a diverse group of around 100 legislators, data protection authorities (DPAs), industry, education stakeholders and civil society organisations to gather additional insight and develop a better understanding of different perspectives and possible implementation challenges.
The GDPR has also been a topic of discussion at both Insafe and INHOPE Training meetings across the course of the year, as SIC staff consider the implementation challenges with hotline staff, in particular, considering the additional legal challenges presented by the Data Protection Directive for those working in the criminal justice sector.
Work is now continuing on mapping Member State’s responses to Article 8 of the GDPR and regularly disseminating findings through the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) portal.
Digital crimes against children take place across a wide array of sectors and industries. This requires INHOPE to partner with many types of organisations to address online child sexual abuse. Engaging actors from across the spectrum enables INHOPE to share resources more widely, exchange active intelligence, maintain a more diverse set of best practices, and maintain open channels of communication with all stakeholders.
In 2016, INHOPE fully launched the ICCAM platform, a ground-breaking system to make inter-hotline reporting faster, more accurate and to provide improved data. The platform delivers unique, nearly real-time global data on web-based child sexual abuse material (CSAM).
ICCAM was designed with the aim of enabling INHOPE member hotlines to “finger-print” reported CSAM (pictures and videos), which in turn helps reduce duplication of reports and steers resources in a more efficient manner. The ICCAM system identifies and matches previously seen CSAM, which in turn allows for faster escalation of new CSAM to law enforcement where attempts can be made to identify new victims of abuse.
INTERPOL was a major partner in the creation of ICCAM, and continues to be involved in its ongoing development and use. Due to its specialised nature, the aspects of this system that involve content assessment and categorisation training can only be dealt with inside of a law enforcement environment.
Recognised as experts in the field of child sexual abuse material, INHOPE is regularly invited to speak and share knowledge at events around the world. As a reference point for all, INHOPE aids in developing policy and advance awareness of CSAM and the role that internet hotlines play in its removal. As a convening entity that works with industry, law enforcement, charities, academia and governments, its work impacts upon global approaches and practices in fighting online abuse and exploitation.
Industry has long worked with both the European Commission and Safer Internet Centres (SICs) across Europe to ensure that products and services are safer by design, and that appropriate measures and responses can be given to any issues identified. Helpline personnel, for example, regularly meet with representatives of the main social media service providers in online meetings to discuss new service features, the challenges these can potentially bring for children and young people, and how to alleviate them.
One particular industry collaboration of note in the last year or so is the formation of the Alliance to better protect minors online. Launched on Safer Internet Day 2017 through a multi-stakeholder event including the European Commission, industry, NGOs, Safer Internet Centres and youth ambassadors, the Alliance is an open self-regulatory initiative to address harmful content, conduct and contact online.
Facilitated by the European Commission in line with the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) strategy, the Alliance sees tech and telecoms companies, broadcasters, NGOs, UNICEF and industry associations working together to create a safe digital environment. Following the issue of a Statement of Purpose upon launch, Alliance members submitted their individual company commitments relating to promoting user empowerment, sharing of best practices, scaling up of awareness-raising efforts, and increasing access to positive, educational, diversified content online.
In June 2017, the involved companies announced their goals and action plans, with a key focus on enhancing cooperation with other relevant stakeholders including the joint Insafe-INHOPE network. It is anticipated that various activities will be rolled out under this initiative in the coming months, and it will be assessed through an independent and transparent review after 18 months from its launch.
Various tools and services are provided under the BIK umbrella to disseminate information and resources on better internet issues, often providing both pan-European and localised perspectives.
The Better Internet for Kids (BIK) portal plays an important role in raising public awareness of how Europe is creating a safer and better internet, signposting users to support and resources in their own country. The portal offers a regularly-refreshed selection of blog articles from a wide range of stakeholders, along with updates on new resources, guidelines and latest research in the field. Over the years, Safer Internet Centres have developed hundreds of resources aimed at helping teachers, parents, carers, children and young people to discover the online world safely. The BIK portal provides a single location where all these resources are freely available for consultation and download, with the number of resources available growing significantly over the last year:
Gallery of educational resources: this resource, searchable by language and target age, includes almost 700 handbooks, guides, tip sheets, lesson plans, educational games and quizzes.
Video gallery: this resource, searchable by language, brings together more than 250 of the best awareness-raising videos from the European network of SICs and beyond.
Guide to online services: this browseable resource provides key information about more than 100 popular apps, social networking sites and other platforms that are commonly being used by children, young people and adults today.
Visit the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) portal at www.betterinternetforkids.eu.
Those with an interest in safer and better internet issues can also subscribe to the quarterly electronic Better Internet for Kids (BIK) bulletin. Mailed directly to subscribers and archived on the BIK portal, each bulletin provides a topical focus article looking at the latest trends in online life along with news and features from youth, industry and the research community.
The most recent edition in September 2017 focused on positive online content to support the recent Positive Online Content Campaign, along with promoting the 2017 edition of the Safer Internet Forum (SIF), the theme and key messages for Safer Internet Day 2018, and refocusing on some topics which readers may have missed over the summer months, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Prior to that, the June 2017 edition primarily focused on fake news with an independent specialist in media literacy providing an extensive editorial article on the role that critical media literacy, supported by cross-sector collaboration and coordination, may have in countering these issues. The article built on network-wide discussions at an Insafe Training meeting, while several Safer Internet Centres also contributed with articles detailing their localised actions and resources. In line with the strategy of reflecting “the voice of youth” wherever possible, four Insafe youth ambassadors gave their viewpoints too, focusing on the importance of critical thinking skills for the younger generation.
The March 2017 edition focused on cyberbullying, looking back at the developments made in recent years in approaches to tackling bullying online, considering some of the emerging challenges and definitions, and highlighting some of the latest resources including tools and campaigns from Safer Internet Centres (SICs) across Europe.
The December 2016 edition of the BIK bulletin focused on online advertising and the commercialisation of children and young people. It included several expert opinion pieces from the likes of COFACE Families Europe on how online business models are broken, while researchers from Ghent University commented on educational approaches to advertising literacy. The edition also included the perspectives of youth themselves with a video blog from a young Latvian YouTuber on how to build a successful career online, and contributions from youth panellists from Greece and Sweden on how online advertising affects them.
Read past editions of the BIK bulletin and subscribe to receive future editions direct at www.betterinternetforkids.eu/bikbulletin.
A number of events are organised within the framework of BIK, with Safer Internet Day and the Safer Internet Forum being two notable annual events. These events provide an opportunity to bring multiple stakeholders together to discuss better internet issues, and generally promote better internet messages more widely.
Safer Internet Day
Over the years, Safer Internet Day (SID) has become a landmark event in the online safety calendar. Organised by the joint Insafe-INHOPE network on behalf of the EC in February of each year, SID aims to promote safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile phones, especially among children and young people, right across the globe. The 14th edition of Safer Internet Day was celebrated on Tuesday, 7 February 2017. With a theme of “Be the change: Unite for a better internet”, the day called upon all stakeholders to join together to make the internet a safer and better place for all, and especially for children and young people.
The day was a huge success with a massive reach to stakeholders across the globe on social media, the participation of many influential organisations and individuals, and some great industry collaborations.
The day also marked the unveiling of a new self-regulatory initiative between the European Commission, tech and telecoms companies, broadcasters, NGOs and UNICEF to address harmful content, conduct and contact online in the form of the Alliance to better protect minors online.
Read more about Safer Internet Day 2017 at www.saferinternetday.org.
Safer Internet Forum
Building on the European Strategy for a Better Internet for Children, the Safer Internet Forum (SIF) is an annual international conference delivered under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) and organised by Insafe and INHOPE on behalf of the EC. Taking place on 24 November 2016 in Luxembourg, the overall aim of the 13th annual Safer Internet Forum was to take a multistakeholder approach to “being the change” for a better and safer internet for children and young people across Europe. More than 200 participants from approximately 40 countries attended the one-day event including parents, policymakers, researchers, industry and the European Commission (EC). Insafe youth representatives from across Europe also contributed their views about how the internet and new technologies were influencing their lives.
The Forum included sessions on a wide variety of subjects but three key themes emerged, reflecting much of the current work under BIK activity lines:
The respective roles of media literacy and regulation in today’s online world.
The impact of emerging technologies on privacy, data security and online behaviour.
Changes in the production, distribution and combating of child sexual abuse material (CSAM).
Read more about Safer Internet Forum 2016 at www.betterinternetforkids.eu/sif .
Although BIK is a European initiative, the internet is of course global and without boundaries; part of Insafe and INHOPE’s remit is therefore to represent the BIK agenda to multiple stakeholders on the global scale. As such, the two networks regularly engage with global research, industry, civil society and law enforcement partners to share knowledge and expertise, and represent the best interests of children and young people online. Some highlights from the last year include:
Insafe attended the 11th International Conference “Keeping Children and Young People Safe Online” in Warsaw, Poland, as jointly organsised by the Polish and German Safer Internet Centres.
An Insafe delegation attended EuroDIG in Estonia. In the same month, Insafe participated in a UNICEF Working Group on Children’s Rights and Online Privacy and also attended a “Global Kids Online: knowledge exchange and impact” session, while INHOPE attended a meeting titled “From discovery to recovery: Online sexual abuse of children” hosted by the Marie Collins Foundation.
INHOPE attended the Europol “Combating the Sexual Exploitation of Children on the Internet (COSEC)” meeting in The Hague, Netherlands in May 2017, and subsequently attended a follow-up meeting in Germany in September 2017.
Insafe-INHOPE jointly attended the Facebook & Google 2017 Safety Summit in Dublin, Ireland.
Insafe attended the FOSI Annual Conference in Washington DC, USA, contributing to a panel plenary session titled “Online Safety: Think Globally, Act Locally”. A joint Insafe-INHOPE delegation attended the annual Internet Governance Forum in Mexico.
INHOPE participated in the ECPAT Sweden Nordic Forum against Child Sexual Exploitation Online in Stockholm, Sweden.
Insafe attended the eTwinning Annual Conference in Athens, Greece, where it was able to promote BIK messages to the educator community with a particular focus on digital citizenship.
The current iteration of the Better Internet for Kids initiative runs from October 2016 until April 2019. While this document primarily reports on the first twelve months of the project (October 2016 - September 2017), a number of activity lines are already in progress which will come to fruition in the coming months. We outline just a few of these below.
The BIK Policy Map aims to give an overview of safer/better internet policies and practices across EU Member States. EUN is currently building upon the outcomes of a previous BIK Policy Map exercise in order to provide and continuously update an overview of policies and practices across the EU Member States, working with Safer Internet Centres across Europe to assimilate data via designated contact points. A minisite will be launched on the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) public portal in early 2018 to provide access to the resulting data via an interactive European map.
In line with a BIK youth participation strategy, youth participation activities will be stepped up in the second part of this project phase, with a “BIK Youth corner” launching as a minisite of the BIK portal in autumn 2017. This new area will curate youth-targeted information from across all BIK platforms and disseminate it via a dedicated youth channel.
Furthermore, in order to facilitate the development of fresh content by young people, a BIK Youth Programme will be implemented. Designed using the expertise of SIC youth participation coordinators, the highlight of this programme will be the process of co-creation of content to populate the Youth corner. To this end, youth panellists attending the European Youth Panel (YEP) in November 2017 will participate in a series of webinars to provide them with the necessary information on their involvement and to prepare them for the co-creation process taking place at YEP and beyond.
Over the last decade, a range of organisations and consortia across the world have replicated (or been inspired by) the European Safer Internet Centre (SIC) model, covering awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation functions as part of a comprehensive national effort to create a better internet for children. While several of these initiatives have already been acknowledged as Safer Internet Day (SID) Committees, a new SIC+ programme will seek to give visibility to the impact of the EC Better Internet for Kids strategy beyond Europe by:
Fostering knowledge sharing and capacity building on successful initiatives on online safety for children and young people, at regional and/or global level.
Promoting the development and implementation of innovative actions to increase the participation of third-country organisations in online safety initiatives and best practices, in particular education programmes and awareness-raising campaigns, as well as helpline and hotline services, while identifying possible areas for exchange and mutual learning.
Addressing common challenges in the field of online safety for children and young people by promoting cooperation with the current Insafe-INHOPE network, aiming for a closer integration of these initiatives in global actions.
In the initial piloting phase, the SIC+ programme will take the form of a bursary scheme, with a planned launch date of February 2018 to coincide with Safer Internet Day celebrations.
As we continue on with this second phase of BIK, we are already in the process of preparing several events and activities to ensure that BIK’s aims remain high on the European and global policy agendas.
In November 2017, the annual Safer Internet Forum (SIF) will be held in Brussels, Belgium. With a theme of “From children’s tech to resilient youth – how to foster wellbeing online?”, the SIF agenda will include sessions on children and robotic toys, building resilience with vulnerable groups, whether we should verify age online, and the scale of the challenge being faced in tackling child sexual abuse material (CSAM) online. The EC-facilitated self-regulatory Alliance to better protect minors online will host a session on how the various Alliance commitments are now being actioned, while youth representatives will report on their views in response to the Alliance initiative, also sharing the results of ongoing, youth-led co-creation processes.
As in previous years, a joint Insafe-INHOPE delegation will participate in the annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF), this time taking place in Geneva, Switzerland in December 2017. Insafe will organise a pre-event workshop session titled “Generation Z: Are children conditioned to accept terms and conditions?”, while Insafe and INHOPE will together host a booth in the IGF village promoting, among other things, Safer Internet Day 2018.
The 2018 edition of Safer Internet Day will take place on Tuesday, 6 February with a theme of “Create, connect and share respect: A better internet starts with you”. This edition’s theme is a call to action for every stakeholder to play their part in creating a better internet for everyone and, in particular, the youngest users out there. More than that, it is an invitation for everyone to join in and engage with others in a respectful way in order to ensure a better digital experience.
We look forward to delivering on these actions and more, in partnership with others, to continue our mission of creating a safer and better internet for children and young people.