My time at YEP and SIF 2017 - an unforgettable experience!

Young people from across Europe met recently for the 9th edition of the European Youth Panel (YEP), which took place in Brussels last month. In total, 15 young people from 13 countries were selected from their national youth panels to represent their peers, share their ideas and contribute to a new youth campaign. They also attended the Safer Internet Forum (SIF), where they participated in high-level panel discussions. Here, Lili from Austria shares her experience.

2017-12-11 Lili, youth panellist from Austria

I'm Lili from Austria and I was one of the youth representatives at this year's European Youth Panel and the Safer Internet Forum. During several webinars before we met face to face in Brussels, members of the youth panel had online discussions about what we wanted to do and how we wanted to achieve our goal. We quickly decided that we jointly stand against online racism, sexual abuse, cybermobbing (cyber bullying) and hate speech and, since we had the idea to start a campaign, we began to think about what we would call it and how we would launch our project.

I participated in YEP and SIF for the first time two years ago and I was very excited that I could join once again. We all arrived in Belgium the day before YEP and had time to explore Brussels. From the very beginning, we all were amazed at how beautiful and lively this city was: Brussels was the perfect place to launch our campaign! We had the opportunity to start working on the campaign at the Google offices and then later that same day in the Future Classroom Lab at European Schoolnet - it's a room full of chairs, tables, tablets, microphones, projectors and other technology that you could never imagine having in your own classroom right now. We decided on our script and the campaign logo, and then started filming our video.

To be honest, I'm impressed by how much I learned during my four days in Brussels, not only about the online world, but also about other countries, languages, cultures and people - who I really loved getting to know. One thing that I want to share with you is to stand up against the things you believe in – through our campaign, we decided to stand up against common online issues together: that is racism, sexism, cybermobbing and hate speech. These issues are everywhere in the online world: in our messenger groups, on our Facebook and Instagram feeds, and on YouTube and Snapchat as well. There is so much intolerance online that we just cannot ignore it any longer. We decided to stand together for respect. It's impossible to not participate in online communication anymore - the online and offline world have grown together and cannot be separated, so we must be as respectful and tolerant in the online world as we are in our offline world.

One thing that is really important to me is that everyone can contribute to a safer internet environment. Whether you just stand up against intolerance online by reporting a comment or letting an authority know about an incident that happened, or whether you join the Safer Internet Youth Forum in your city or country, it will always have a positive impact.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Better Internet for Kids Portal, European Schoolnet, the European Commission or any related organisations or parties.

To find out more out the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) youth programme, visit the new BIK Youth minisite and see also the youth panellist's Together for Respect campaign YouTube channel.

Find out more about the Safer Internet Forum on the BIK portal.

About the author:
My name is Lili and I'm a student from Vienna in Austria. I will be graduating this year and plan to continue my further education at Vienna's main university. I have been active in the Safer Internet Forum in my city for the past three years and I am looking forward to new tasks and adventures with the international Safer Internet Forum and European Youth Panel.

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