After a few years of organising individual children and youth panels, it was time to rethink the concept. These panels help the SIC ensure that the publications, tools and training programmes they develop meet the needs of their target group. It is also interesting to see how children and young people contribute, not only by sharing honest feedback on the resources, but also by giving their opinions on topics that the SIC is dealing with.
The following examples showcase how the Luxembourgish SIC uses the children and youth panels to (1) guarantee the quality of the resources and (2) to regularly exchange with children and young people on various topics.
Impact of digital media and technologies on our relationships
As part of the awareness-raising campaign "LOVE STORIES 4.0", the SIC wanted to gain a better understanding of young people's perspectives on online relationships. Up to 60 teenagers participated in the exchanges by discussing questions such as:
- How important is your smartphone for managing your relationship with your family/friends/lovers?
- Are couples who share a lot of details about their intimate life on social media happier?
- Is it fair to end a romantic relationship via social media?
In order to facilitate the discussion, the SIC asked the young people to answer the questions by positioning themselves around the room. This created an atmosphere of openness and fun, resulting in a lively conversation. Here are some interesting quotes from these discussions:
- "When you're texting, you can't see or feel the other person's emotions" – when asked "How important is your smartphone for managing your relationship with your family/friends/lovers?"
- "It depends, people can post and be happy or not post and be happy, it really depends on the relationships" – when asked "Are couples who share a lot of details about their intimate life on social media happier?"
- "It depends on the person's reaction. Breaking up on social media can create tension. The person you are trying to break up with can get abusive or aggressive, so basically I want to be as far away from her as possible and then talk to her later on when she's calmed down" - in response to the question: "Is it fair to end a romantic relationship via social media?"
Let's talk about the security of smart toys with children
Smart toys, or toys connected to the internet, have become a hot topic in recent years. They are useful and fun, but they can also invade privacy. This is why the Luxembourgish SIC planned to release a cartoon on the topic with a story that enables parents, educators and teachers to explore the fascinating world of the Internet of Things (IoT) with children and to learn what to look for when buying and configuring a smart toy.
The most difficult part of developing an educational cartoon is to ensure (1) that the storyline is simple enough for the children to understand and (2) that the visuals work with the story. To do this, children panels were organised throughout 2019:
- During the first children panel, the overall impression was that the initial storyline was too hard for children aged 5-6 to understand. The scripts were often too long or too complicated for them to really stay focused. As a result, the SIC decided to optimise the text and make sure that the visuals supported the children's understanding of the story.
- During a second children panel, the children were instructed to draw the story. This helped the SIC to test their optimised story and to make sure that the revised visuals supported the story by making it easier to understand.
Finally, the SIC was able to publish the story "Bibi and the Smart Teddy Bear - Play Safe" which aims to raise awareness amongst children, young people and their caretakers about the risks of playing with smart toys.
These children and youth panels have already proven to be useful for the SIC‘s awareness-raising efforts. In order to promote the panels, BEE SECURE organised a "design a promotional flyer" contest in collaboration with a national arts school. Young pupils were given the task of designing their own flyer. The results really exceeded expectations, but unfortunately, only one flyer could be selected as the winner. In 2020, this flyer will be distributed nationwide to promote the SIC‘s children and youth panels!
Find out more information about the work of the Luxembourgish Safer Internet Centre (SIC) generally, including its awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services on the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) portal, or find similar information for Safer Internet Centres throughout Europe.