Safer Internet Forum 2022 – full report now available

Safer Internet Forum 2022 took place in a hybrid format in Brussels, Belgium and online on Thursday, 27 October this year. This year’s edition was extra special, because it was a youth-led event, with young people playing an active role in the planning, preparation, and delivery of the forum. Read more about how the forum went.

Date 2022-12-16 Author BIK Team Section awareness Topic media literacy/education Audience organisations and industry, parents and carers, research, policy and decision makers, teachers, educators and professionals
Logo of Safer Internet Forum 2022

The Safer Internet Forum (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, opportunities, risks, and solutions related to child online safety and making the internet a better place. 

A Digital Decade for children and youth: BIK+ to protect, empower and respect!

The theme this year was ‘A Digital Decade for children and youth: BIK+ to protect, empower and respect!’. In May 2022, the European Commission published its new European strategy for a better internet for kids (BIK+). The updated BIK+ strategy is the digital arm of the rights of the child strategy and reflects the recently proposed digital principle that ‘Children and young people should be protected and empowered online’. It considers the European Parliament Resolution on children’s rights, the Council Conclusions on media literacy, and the Council Recommendation establishing a European Child Guarantee.

Against this background, Safer Internet Forum 2022 provided an opportunity to discuss the BIK+ strategy in detail and identify its key objectives and priority actions for the coming years. It explored the roles and responsibilities for public and private stakeholders, along with how to monitor its impact and effectiveness. To mark the European Year of Youth, the event was organised in a youth-led manner, with young people playing an active role in the planning, preparation and delivery of the Forum.

The agenda

To kick off this youth-led edition of the Safer Internet Forum we asked young people – from across and beyond the European Union – to share their thoughts on the Better Internet for Kids strategy (BIK+). After, Hans Martens from European Schoolnet and SIF Youth Advisory Group member Manahil from Germany took the stage and welcomed everyone. This was followed by a video address by Commissioner Thierry Breton for the Internal market and Commissioner Dubravka Šuica, Vice-President for Democracy and Demography.

Following these video addresses, two members of the SIF Youth Advisory Group led an interactive discussion with European and national policy makers to open the conference and underline the importance of BIK+. Molly (Ireland) and George (Malta) introduced Member of the European Parliament Catharina Rinzema from the Netherlands, and June Lowery-Kingston, from the European Commission.

The first keynote session was introduced by Sabrina Vorbau from European Schoolnet and SIF Youth Advisory Group member Dimitris from Cyprus who welcomed participants to this next session. Dimitris introduced the two young influencers, Jacob Donegan and Lijana Risen, who would be speaking in this session. 

Jacob is a 21-year-old content creator from Ireland, with over 1.2 million followers on TikTok. Jacob is a transgender man, female to male, and has been creating content, mainly on TikTok, for over seven years, promoting self-love and the importance of living life as who you truly are without any fear or shame. Lijana Risen, 25, is a mindset influencer. She was a contestant on Germany's Next Top Model and voluntarily dropped out of the final to make a statement against cyberbullying. Since then, she has started the non-profit organisation Love Always Wins (L.A.W.), where she's fighting for more self-love and respect, and less hate.

To conclude this session, BIK Youth representatives performed a song (‘With or Without You’) and then led interactive table debates, providing feedback in a plenary format on the topics discussed. Topics included manipulation on the internet, data issues, cyberbullying, moderation and policies and harassment. 

As is typical of the Safer Internet Forum, participants had the opportunity to participate in a number of deep dive discussions, across two sessions, each focusing on the pillars of the BIK+ strategy. Discussions further explored some of the opportunities and challenges as they relate to protecting, empowering, and respecting children and young people online, and how these can be addressed by various stakeholders. Parallel sessions took place for onsite and online participants. The first deep dive discussion was around the topic of safe digital experiences and the second deep dive discussion was on digital empowerment and active participation. 

The final session included a broad and international input from a variety of panellists. June Lowery-Kingston, Head of Unit, Accessibility, Multilingualism and Safer Internet at DG CONNECT of the European Commission introduced Billie (Ireland), SIF Youth Advisory Group member, Rodrigo Nejm, eSafety educational Director at Safernet Brazil and Brazilian SID committee coordinator, Debora Plein, Coordinator of the Luxembourgish Safer Internet Centre, Josianne Galea Baron, Business Engagement and Child Rights at UNICEF.

In her closing remarks, June Lowery-Kingston, Head of Unit, Accessibility, Multilingualism and Safer Internet at DG CONNECT of the European Commission, thanked all participants, both onsite and online, for their contributions to the day's discussions. She assured participants that the content of the discussions had been harvested and that the Commission team, along with representatives of European Schoolnet, will be studying this in detail to really benefit from the energy and expertise demonstrated during the Forum. 

June further shared that the Commission is always moving forward, actively working to increase the synergies across various activity lines, working with European Safer Internet Centres and, more recently, with European Consumer Centres also to specifically address the commercial risks of children and young people being online.

The very final word of the day was given to BIK Youth Panellist Daria. Daria expressed the gratitude of the BIK Youth Panel to everyone who had supported them in the process of making Safer Internet Forum 2022 a truly youth-led event. Moreover, she hoped that everyone present would commit to making the changes needed, alongside youth, to create a better internet for kids… and for everyone.

More information

 Further information, including session recordings, presentations (where available) and the full report, can be found at www.betterinternetforkids.eu/sif.

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