"The Safer Internet Forum was a space for fruitful debates on topics such as harassment and hate speech, data manipulation, moderation policies and co-creation, with people from different sectors, with different experiences, interests and opinions," said Joana Martins, representing Portugal at the event.
On October 27, Safer Internet Forum (SIF) 2022 was held under the theme "A Digital Decade for children and young people: BIK+ to protect, empower and respect!". The annual conference was held in Brussels and brought together European Safer Internet Centres, policy makers, researchers, teachers, parents, young people, NGOs and other experts to discuss the latest trends, risks and solutions related to keeping children safe online in order to make the internet a better place.
This year's edition provided an opportunity to discuss the new BIK+ strategy in detail and identify its main objectives and actions. With a focus on youth participation and empowerment, and on the occasion of the European Year of Youth, the event was led by young people who played an active role in the planning and preparation of the forum.
We agreed that we need to make a concerted effort and invest in different aspects: in education through dedicated initiatives; in the action of legislators and companies in setting restrictions, permissions and safeguards that allow a balance between security, accessibility and profit; in the involvement of young people as enthusiastic users who have a unique perspective on problems and solutions and as future administrators in these processes of education, redefinition and design of content and platforms
explained the digital leader Joana.
The Portuguese students representing the country in Brussels said that the panel of young people at the forum "is a very important example of the interest and involvement of the younger generation in issues that increasingly concern us." Teresa Sério, who along with Joana and Guilherme made up the Portuguese team at the Forum, stressed that companies are increasingly interested in young people's opinions due to their strong presence on digital platforms.
For Joana, this was a very enriching experience, "for the knowledge I gained, for the contact with extremely well-informed people with such refreshing opinions and suggestions, for the city and for the culture - for the cultures that came together there." The message "Once on the internet, forever on the internet" prevails for Teresa as one of the most important to pass on, because every time she learns more about Internet safety, she proves that this phrase sums up and reflects many of the lessons learned.
Joana Martins concluded by saying: "At this SIF, I heard and felt heard, and that to me is what makes an event successful". The Safer Internet Forum will be succeeded by Safer Internet Day, which will take place on February 7, 2023, and which promises to also be a space for debates about the internet, where young people will have a prominent place and get involved.
Find out more about the work of the Portuguese Safer Internet Centre, including its awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services – or find similar information for Safer Internet Centres throughout Europe.