COFACE Families Europe, a pluralistic European civil society organisation, was represented by Elizabeth Gosme. She explained that digital citizenship and harnessing the potential of technology is deeply embedded in their organisation’s vision. To reach this outcome, COFACE Families Europe focuses their activities in four areas:
- Shape the regulatory environment: by focusing on influencing policies and law, which work by design for children in the field of social policy, disability rights, child rights, digital policy and online advertising.
- Raise awareness and connect people: mainly through the European Family Lab. Professionals can connect with each other in the lab and engage in transnational exchanges, webinars, and check-ins.
- Foster dialogue with the industry: to improve self-regulation by the industry, so their products and services work by default for child rights.
- Building partnerships: between families and professionals and beyond the professional sphere, by including child and youth voices through Better Internet for Kids (BIK) Youth, formal and nonformal educators through eTwinning, education institutions under Erasmus+ and researchers.
In the past years, campaigns run by COFACE Families Europe focused on treating children as digital citizens that can shape the internet, families as teamwork and digital deprivation of children in Europe. Finally, COFACE TV offers videos on all kind of topics to empower carers, and especially the channel European Family Lab on YouTube is aimed to support families.
The second organisation that was invited to present during the webinar of the SIC+ programme was Child Focus, an organisation for missing and sexually exploited children, represented by Ruth de Bruycker. Ruth focused in her presentation on the Safely Online project. This project consists of workshops aimed at parents and carers throughout Belgium. Ruth explained the unique characteristics that contributed to the success of the project. The project aims to:
- Empower parents in a realistic way, parents do not need to be technicians of the internet.
- Create a safe space where parents can express their concerns in an interactive way.
- Increase openness and relatability through testimonies and storytelling with a focus on parents. In several of the testimonies the voice of children are included to explain to parents what they really do on social media and what they expect from their parents and carers.
- To be accessible by having a low threshold and be user-friendly.
The final organisation to share their expertise was Mediawijs, a Flemish knowledge centre on media literacy represented by Karen van Linten. Through a video recording Karen presented a project on parental engagement, called MediaNest. MediaNest can be described as a one-stop-shop meant to empower parents by creating a space with all relevant information that will give them an answer on all possible questions. This is reached by offering:
- Articles, videos, testimonies, and tools on different topics, such as media phenomena and how to start a conversation in your family on media challenges.
- Answers to questions on children’s and teenagers’ digital world.
- Testimonies from other parents, to learn how other parents face the same problems.
- Tips for parents on how to deal with problem situations and to participate in creative activities with the whole family.
An important point that was raised after the presentations was the issue on how to reach vulnerable parents. The participants provided each other with several tips:
- Vulnerable parents expressed that they want to be informed by people they already know, make sure to include teachers or other family members.
- Vulnerable parents often face many other challenges, media parenting might not be their priority, it is important to include information on media parenting in activities they already do.
- Adapt materials to vulnerable parents, such as with another mother tongue and vulnerable parents in a broader sense.
- Testimonies by other parents and children can help to reach vulnerable groups, especially in video formats where the parents do not need to read long texts.
- To reach vulnerable parents it is required to go back to basics, by using offline connections that are already in place.
The activities of the SIC+ programme will continue after the summer break, such as participation in the Insafe-INHOPE Training meeting and the Safer Internet Forum (SIF) 2022. Be sure to keep an eye on the BIK Portal News section for updates.