In 2020, no less than 48 young people aged 12-18 and coming from Austria, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, the Netherlands and Spain participated in the BIK Youth Panel.
In the weeks leading up to the BIK Youth Panel, the panellists have been participating in regular online meetings with the aim of getting to know each other, and exchanging views and experiences about the current state of safer and better internet issues across Europe. Based on these discussions, the young people identified what they deemed to be the six most important themes in their eyes and formed teams accordingly. Each team them produced an awareness video on their respective themes.
- "Fake or real?” – This theme aimed to look into the topic of misinformation and disinformation on social media – an issue which has become more relevant in 2020 than ever – and to raise awareness of simple ways young people can prevent falling victims to it. Therefore, the youth panellists working on this topic produced an interactive video structured like an educative quiz.
- “Human and ethical” – After noticing the gap in the importance given to human rights in the offline and online worlds, this group decided to work on promoting human rights in the digital environment, calling upon all stakeholders to give greater consideration to the ethical aspects of digital issues, products and policies. You can watch the video they produced on YouTube.
- “Mental health and disabilities” – Taking stock of the sensible rise in mental health issues which has been recently perceived and which might be linked to the lockdown and the downsides of social media, this group aimed to raise awareness of the issue while reinforcing some basic online etiquette messages to ensure all young people have a positive experience of the digital world. You can watch the video they produced on YouTube.
The three “future internet” groups decided to focus on the future of education in the digital age – as one youth panellist from Lithuania put it, “because we are all students, education is a big part of our lives. Improving that for our children, our brothers and sisters is a really important topic for us, because we know how good or bad it could be: we have seen teachers doing an amazing job at teaching online during quarantine, but we have also seen some for whom the transition has been really bad, they really struggled”.
- “Future internet I: education on and off the internet” – This group accurately observed that, although sexual education is of paramount importance to them and their age group, it is very complicated for them to discuss it, especially at school. Consequently, many young people turn to the internet – and most of the time, to pornographic websites – to try to learn what they cannot in their school systems. The aim of this group was therefore to reaffirm the importance of training teachers on this topic, and to explore the wide array of creative and engaging educational resources that exist on the internet for young people. You can watch the video they produced on YouTube.
- “Future internet II: the timeline of technological and communicative advancement” – Reflecting on the fundamental transformations which our means of communications have recently undergone – a transition which was initiated decades ago but which has been most sensible in 2020 as the world went into lockdown – these youth panellists wanted to share the many questions and concerns they have about the numerous implications which the new modes of communications entail, both in their immediate daily lives but also in the near future. You can watch the video they produced on YouTube.
- “Future internet III: teacher education” – According to this group, with the lockdown and the overnight transition to remote learning, young people have – unfortunately – been able to witness first-hand what the consequences of outdated education systems can be, hence the imperative of, as they put it, “teach teachers how to teach”. In particular, this group advocated for the necessity to ensure all education professionals have the required digital skills to make a safe, informed and adequate use of digital tools in their teaching methods. You can watch the video they produced on YouTube.
On Thursday, 19 November 2020, the 48 BIK Youth panellists presented the main output of nearly two months of intense discussions and preparations to members of the Alliance to better protect minors online, of the European Commission, and of civil society organisations. The videos which the panellists produced and the many insights which they shared were warmly received by the attendees.
This work was then presented to a broader audience in the framework of a youth-led session at Safer Internet Forum (SIF) 2020. If you missed it, you may watch the recording of that session on the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) portal.