SIC+ countries meet to discuss awareness raising and youth participation

Global participants in the SIC+ programme recently took part in a webinar to share experiences and good practices relating to awareness raising and youth participation in online safety issues. The Insafe and INHOPE networks launched the SIC+ initiative with the aim of extending and replicating the successful Safer Internet Centre (SIC) model beyond Europe.

Date 2020-07-14 Author BIK Team Section awareness, youth

As reported in a previous BIK portal article, colleagues from Armenia, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Serbia and Ukraine are participating in a pilot phase of the programme which seeks to build capacity through the sharing of knowledge, experiences and expertise. The second in a planned series of four webinars recently took place, focusing on providing insight to the awareness raising and youth participation strands of the SIC model.

Staying aware with "klicksafe": Awareness activities and best practices from the German Safer Internet Centres

Joachim Kind from the German Safer Internet Centre was first up, explaining that all guidelines and tasks of the SIC are laid down in the European Strategy for a Better Internet for Children as published by the European Commission (EC) in 2012. He noted that this is now under review under the Digital Europe Programme which will run from 2021-2027. The existing strategy is however still current, and there are three major tasks which the SIC needs to deliver under the awareness centre strand, facilitated by in Germany:

  • • Create content.
  • • Promote content – for example by campaigning/marketing, reaching out to target audiences by all types of media.
  • • Network – creating a network of all sorts of different partners (government, science, academia, industry, tech companies, civil society, NGOs, and so on).

Joachim went on to outline some of the governance structures in place to help direct the SIC's work, such as the formation of a cross-discipline Advisory Board, with membership drawn from tech companies, government and universities. Alongside the Advisory Board, the awareness centre works with almost 100 other partners from a variety of institutions and bodies.

The awareness centre's content work focuses on multiple subject areas, responding to topical issues such as cyberbullying, hate speech, fake news, influencer topics, online conspiracy theories, and so on. Campaigning and promotion takes place across multiple channels, and the youth panel is integral to much of this work – youth are closer to the issues being discussed, and so can give good insights. Key events, such as the annual Safer Internet Day (SID) campaign, also provide an excellent opportunity for awareness-raising work.

Joachim concluded by sharing a couple of success stories from the SIC's awareness-raising work. The first relates directly to the youth panel, which created a cyberbullying first aid app. Several boys (aged 16-17) were involved in programming, and so from this they developed an app which provided a tool to combat cyberbullying. The resource includes videoclips with information on the legal framework as it relates to cyberbullying, tutorials, and information on accessing helplines services. The resource has been recognised across Europe and has been awarded grants to translate it into different languages; it is currently available in English, German, French, Luxembourgish, Lithuanian and Slovenian. Find out more in the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) resource gallery.

The second success story is the video clip "Wo ist Klaus?" (Where is Klaus?). Despite now being 15 years old, the clip is a classic in terms of awareness raising: it has been used right across the globe, and has now been translated into 22 languages including Arabic, Armenian, Spanish and Ukrainian. View the clip in the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) video gallery. More recently, it has provided inspiration for the "Keep it real online" resources in New Zealand, with similar style video clips covering online bullying, online grooming and pornography.

The importance of youth participation: Experience and food for thought from a BIK Youth Ambassador

Lorcan Tuohy Donnelly, a 19-year-old student from Ireland, then took to the floor to share his experiences as a youth panellist. Lorcan was badly bullied when he started secondary school, and online bullying was a significant part of that. As a result of his experiences, he wanted to try to help to make a difference for other young people. He also noticed that a lot of parents and teachers saw the internet as a negative thing because of the potential for bullying and exploitation online and hence he wanted to try to help highlight the positive potential of the internet also.

Lorcan initially volunteered to be a Safer Internet Day (SID) Ambassador at his school; an initiative organised by (the awareness-raising strand of the Irish Safer Internet Centre (SIC)). From that, he became a member of the youth panel which is a representative group of young people who play an active role in developing the national campaigns and in representing the voice of young people in online safety issues. His work with Webwise subsequently led to him representing Ireland in the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) youth panel formed from young people from across Europe, and ultimately becoming a BIK Youth Ambassador representing the voice of youth at key events throughout Europe.

Lorcan talked in depth about a number of projects and activities which he's been able to participate in, ranging from helping to create awareness-raising campaigns, to developing explainer resources for young people and their parents, participating in brainstorming and recording sessions, and contributing to industry discussions to share the concerns of young people around different apps and social media platforms. Some of the youth panellists, including Lorcan, have received awards from the Gardaí, the national police service, for their work.

Following the two presentations, there was a short discussion allowing the webinar participants to probe the European experiences further, which is such a fundamental aspect of this pilot programme. The next webinar in the series, scheduled to take place in September 2020, will allow for a similar exploration of helpline and hotline services.

We'll continue to bring you news on this initiative as it progresses throughout the course of the year, along with further insights into the work of the programme participants.

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