Jointly, European Schoolnet and INHOPE support Safer Internet Centres 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, the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) initiative 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 – reflecting the fact that we all have a role to play in creating a better internet. Additionally, the actions conducted in the framework of Better Internet for Kids frequently reach beyond Europe, impacting upon safer and better internet approaches right across the globe.
While 2021 was undoubtedly a year of continuing uncertainty as the COVID-19 pandemic raged on across the globe, bringing with it new variants and new challenges, Better Internet for Kids actions, and the network of Safer Internet Centres in Europe continued to adapt to this new reality.
The 2021 edition of Safer Internet Day (SID), for example, provided an excellent example of this flexibility of approach. So often a backdrop to a multitude of face-to-face events and training opportunities across Europe and beyond, lockdown restrictions meant that SID stakeholders had to shift to online or hybrid events. Rather than curtailing activities, however, quite the reverse happened – celebrations were many and varied, and allowed for much wider and more diverse audiences to be reached than previously.
Safer Internet Centres continued to produce a range of awareness-raising resources, as is a standard feature of their work. However, in addition to responding to the more typical online safety opportunities and risks, they also covered topics related to well-being, especially in light of young lives mainly lived in the digital space for significant parts of the year. Helplines equally witnessed a shift in trends as the pandemic continued with, for example, fewer calls related to excessive use as parents and carers accepted that their children are spending more time online, particularly during lockdowns, but increased contacts related to love, relationships and sexuality online.
A considerable focus of activity during 2021 was on developing approaches that truly listen to, and act upon, the desires and demands of children and young people in shaping digital spaces. Set firmly within the context of the European Commission's vision and avenues for Europe’s digital transformation by 2030, the #DigitalDecade4YOUth consultation work sought the views of children and young people (and other stakeholders) to ensure that the digital world is fit for the future and can allow everyone to benefit from all the opportunities it offers. While initial findings were presented at the 2021 edition of the Safer Internet Forum (SIF), the outputs from this work will continue to shape work programmes and priorities for many years to come.
BIK Youth were especially active throughout the year, reflecting back on a year of work and collaboration as part of the Youth Pledge for a Better Internet initiative as part of the SID 2021 event, and coming together in autumn to plan for their active intervention in the SIF with a series of videos on diverse topics which concern them.
Discover more by browsing through the full report below:
Alternatively, download a PDF version of the 2021 review of the year.
Additionally, you can browse BIK annual reports from previous years.