Everybody has their own early memories of their first internet use. Older generations may remember the introduction of email at work while, for young professionals, the sounds of dial-up internet may bring back memories of the difficulties of trying to reach MSN Messenger. Children growing up today, however, have the internet and the digital content it gives access to available to them as soon as they can point a finger at objects. Given the young and impressionable age at which children first access the internet, digital content for kids can have a greater impact than ever before.
Indeed content can help kids learn and develop skills, explore the internet, and motivate them to take part as active citizens in our digital society. At the same time, it is important that they are protected from potentially harmful content and learn what appropriate content is, and how they can find and access it. As youth panellist João states: "My younger sister belongs to the digital generation, so she, more than me, has been drawn to the internet at an early age. It's always a challenge to provide for both support and freedom to let her explore at her own risk, but I also see how much she is learning from so-called ‘YouTubers'. These online celebrities play a key role in my sister's eagerness for knowledge."
While children are at the heart of this new Positive Online Content Campaign, much attention is also directed to other stakeholders. Content producers and providers have the power to shape the games, websites, videos, apps and other types of content children will come across. Parents and educators have a role to play when providing children with access to online content, both in the home and the classroom.
Making and selecting fun and suitable content can be a challenge, as this experience from youth panellist Ida shows: "When I was younger I was obsessed with a website called ‘Gosupermodel'. In hindsight, I think it was both a good and a bad example of content for children. I could communicate with other children my age and express myself creatively, but users were encouraged to spend money on the website. To me, positive content allows children to have fun, learn and should be accessible to every child. If the website's main goal is to make money I don't think it's good content for children."
Parents want engaging but safe content for their children, and providers aim to fulfil this promise but often also look at the financial bottom line and want to make profit from their products. Today, on the children's day of the Awareness Week, we emphasise that kids should be at the centre of considerations for parents, teachers, and industry. A positive online content criteria checklist helps to focus these considerations.
Follow @PanEUyouth for more youth perspectives on positive content from our youth panellists, visit the new positive content minisite on the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) portal at www.betterinternetforkids.eu/positive-content, and follow the discussions and activities throughout the week using the #positivecontent hashtag.
Coming up tomorrow in the Positive Online Content Campaign Awareness Week, a focus on teacher and educators…
Take a look at some of the highlights of the day on Twitter: