The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear that digital technologies have the potential to empower children and young people to find information, communicate, socialise, learn and play – often to a greater extent than in their non-digital lives. Yet, it has also revealed that online tools and services are often not designed with the best interests of children and young people in mind, a fact which rings especially true for those with diverse disabilities. Safer Internet Forum (SIF) 2020 will therefore offer an exploration into how young internet users with disabilities both benefit from the use of digital technologies and are impacted by online harms.
SIF is a key annual international conference in Europe where policy makers, researchers, law enforcement bodies, youth, parents and carers, teachers, NGOs, industry representatives, experts and other relevant actors come together to discuss the latest trends, risks and solutions related to child online safety.
With a theme of “Digital (dis)advantage: creating an inclusive world for children and young people online”, SIF will take place online, with the main sessions being held on Wednesday, 25 and Thursday, 26 November 2020 – with a range of additional sessions throughout the week.
In the keynote session “Digital dividends and digital disadvantage: children with disabilities’ views and experiences of the digital environment” on Wednesday, 25 November 2020, Laura Lundy, Professor of Education Law and Children’s Rights at the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work at Queen’s University, Belfast, will discuss the challenges and opportunities that children with diverse disabilities encounter when participating in the online world. During this session, participants will also have the opportunity to hear from several young people with disabilities, who will share their perspectives and experiences of the digital environment, as well as the actions they would like to see taken by different stakeholders to ensure that children with disabilities can access and engage with the online world in the same conditions as other children do.
The topics of inclusion and accessibility online will be further explored in a number of deep dive sessions, with a focus on innovative technological and educational solutions emanating from a range of different stakeholders.
- The session “Public and private solutions” will look at how industry and non-profit organisations are responding to demands for increased accessibility and designing platforms with all users in mind.
- The session “Online safety resource creation” will consider some of the existing content and resources created for vulnerable groups by European Safer Internet Centres (SICs).
- Lastly, the session “Inclusive education” will consider some best practices in using digital technologies in schools to support children and young people with disabilities.
In a range of additional events throughout the week (on Tuesday, 24 and Friday, 27 November 2020), there will also be the opportunity to discuss other ongoing projects aiming to promote children and young people’s safety and wellbeing online, such as youth participation activities, the EU strategy for a more effective fight against child sexual abuse, as well as the latest findings of the Better Internet for Kids Policy Map, which monitors the implementation of the European strategy for a better internet for children in EU member states.