Like other Safer Internet Centres (SICs) around Europe, the Danish SIC actively works on youth involvement by organising Youth Panels. Consequently, the SIC can provide recommendations on how parents and adults could engage in and contribute to children and young people’s digital lives, based on the actual experiences of the target groups.
From November 2019 until March 2021, a group of seven children aged 14-15 from across the country worked with representatives from Save the Children Denmark and The Danish Media Council for Children and Young People. They met and discussed young people’s digital lives and, during the meetings, the Danish Safer Internet Centre learned a lot from their experiences. Youth involvement continues to be crucial in the work of the Danish SIC.
“We need responsible and involved adults!”
During their active involvement, the Youth Panel worked on image and video manipulation, attended conferences and spoke about digital well-being during the COVID-19 lockdown. For their final big project, the young people chose online communities as a theme. Online communities are evidently important in young people’s everyday lives, and they can hold just as much value as physical communities. But sometimes, online communities can become toxic. In order to work towards healthier online communities, the Youth Panel suggested that someone should take responsibility for what happens within such communities – that someone could be parents or teachers, as well as young people themselves. The central message of the panel’s work was that children and young people need responsible and involved adults, when it comes to their digital lives.
The Youth Panel worked with a professional photographer and created a video campaign where they share advice for both young people and the adults around them. With the help of the Media Council and Save the Children, they wrote a script and recorded it themselves in their own homes. The recordings were put together in the video campaign, which was launched in March 2021.
Teachers have the opportunity to contribute to young people’s endeavours for a healthier digital culture. Therefore, online communities and digital well-being is an important subject, and one that should be discussed in classrooms. The Youth Panel specifically requested teaching materials, because they wanted their peers to be able to discuss online communities in a classroom setting with a teacher. Subsequently, Save the Children Denmark and the Media Council transformed the work of the Youth Panel into a teaching material to be used by students in grades 7 to 9. The material is available in Danish and includes group discussions and the reading of an opinion piece by a Youth Panel member. The opinion piece was also published in a Danish newspaper. Finally, the students are asked to write a letter to their unborn child, where they explain how they are going to be a digital role model.
As the school year has now begun, and students are back in a physical classroom setting, the Media Council is continuing to spread awareness about the teaching material.
The Media Council and Center for Digital Youth Care (the helpline of the Danish Safer Internet Centre) are currently preparing to meet with a new Youth Panel in the autumn of 2021. The previous youth panellists were recruited through Save the Children Denmark’s ambassador school programme. This time, the Panel will not consist of young people from across the country, but instead, a single eighth grade class has been chosen. The panellists will play an important part in the planning of Safer Internet Day 2022.
To ensure a broader perspective in youth involvement, a Digital Youth Panel continues to give its input in the ongoing discussions of the actual Youth Panel. The Digital Youth Panel consists of a group of young people who chat anonymously on the national helpline’s youth counseling platform, ‘Cyberhus’.
Members of the Youth Panel getting ready to participate in a conference on image and video manipulation on Safer Internet Day 2020. Photo by Bjørn Pierre Enevoldsen.
Find out more about the work of the Danish Safer Internet Centre, including its awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services – or find similar information for Safer Internet Centres throughout Europe.