'The first day of #YEP2015 kicked off with two sessions, the first one about digital rights online and the second session about digital creativity. I will be talking about the latter.
'Technology gives us many opportunities to create exciting stuff. We just have to be given the opportunity to try and play with this exciting technology. At the beginning of the session we were told: "This session will not be like school. Here, young people are encouraged to make mistakes and try again and again." And it was right. The session was not like school at all.
'In the beginning of the session, we were introduced to the new initiative of Makerspaces, which will launch in Luxembourg shortly. These will be creative spaces, where young people have the opportunity to experiment with gadgets and everything tech related from drones to Lego robots.
'In our session we had the same opportunity too. Some of us played with the MakeyMakey platform playing on a vegetable piano, while others controlled a ball with a tablet.
'While experimenting with these great gadgets, we realised two things: first, that playing with all the gadgets is really fun and we should not be afraid of making mistakes when working with them and, second, that it is necessary that all young people develop the necessary skills to use the gadgets of tomorrow to be able to face to the challenges ahead of us.'
'We all concluded in our first session about digital rights that we should have a right for education about information technology. This is also true for our teachers. We should all have at least basic competencies how to work with computers… and perhaps not just basic! 'We, young people, like the motto: "no talk, all action". In line with this motto, in this session, we tried to come up with some concrete actions which could improve technological literacy. We focused both on young people and teachers. 'After coming up with these ideas, we were asked to sort them into one of the following categories:
- Ideas which could be implemented quickly.
- Ideas which would take some amount of time.
- Ideas which would take a lot of time.
'Using this scheme, we created a complete set of solutions, some of them which we could implement quickly, others which would require more planning and time. 'And the results? Internet classes for everyone, learning process during which mistakes are appreciated, experiments in classes, IT summer camps and so on. Valuable ideas, don't you think?'
'As a youth participant, I was invited to attend the European Youth Panel (YEP) and Safer Internet Forum (SIF) this year. The time I spent there was lovely.
'I've had the fortunate opportunity to go to SIF twice: I was at SIF 2014 in Brussels and, this year, SIF was held in beautiful Luxembourg. It felt the same, but also totally different. We were with a group of 17 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 19. We brainstormed about the internet and spent time actively breaking, making, programming and playing with the tools that the Makerspace offered us. A Makerspace is a community-operated workspace where people with common interests, often in computers, machining, technology, science, digital art or electronic art, can meet, socialise and collaborate. The nice thing about the Makerspace is that we were challenged to be creative and look at the possibilities and not the risks. In a group of creative brilliant minds, you get inspired to think further then you would believe is possible.
'The ideas and solutions that we came up with were presented at the Safer Internet Forum. We were put in bright yellow shirts so that we would attract the attention of all of the SIF attendees. In my opinion, it's very important for an event like this to have youth there to represent the users of the internet and to brag about how technically developed youth actually are. We got to join in on the sessions and panels, and it turns out that the youth have a lot of questions and are intrigued to listen to what the 'big guys' have to say. I had interesting conversations, learned a lot, and got inspired. People tend to forget that one third of internet users are actually kids. So please invite us in on the conversation that you're already having about how we use the internet, and how we should use it in a safe way.
'We ended this lovely adventure by signing each other's yellow shirts with messages, a tour around Luxembourg and saying goodbye to the youth group who've really become good friends of mine in such a short time. Sign me up for next year!'
Day 1 - Create your digital rights
'The first session we participated in was about creating our own digital rights. In this session we were put in groups of three, and were asked to discuss what we wanted to have for digital rights. We got inspiration from the Youth Manifesto. The entire group then talked about the digital rights we created as groups, and each group then presented their ideas. After that we discussed them and chose the ones we thought were the most important. We ended up with nine digital rights that we thought were the most important.
The digital rights are put in the order below of most important to least important:
- Education about the internet for everyone
- Online privacy
- Freedom of speech
- The right to be forgotten
- Free access to the internet and information
- A cyberbullying-free internet
- Right to fair terms and conditions
- Different settings for children under a specific age (child friendly button on phones, tablets and computers)
- A spam-free internet
'In this session, I learned the opinions of other youth: what they think can be better about the internet and which digital rights they thought were the most important. When all the youth talked together, I really saw different views on the subject.
When I am home I will make sure to talk about what digital rights we want and how to reach them. I will inform my friends and classmates about the youth manifesto, and make sure people share it.
'I saw that there is a lot of information about the internet that can be important for people to know, but that it's hard to find the information. If information was easier to find, it would help a lot with the campaign for online safety. '
Day 2 - Privacy, data protection and online user experience
'This session was about privacy, data protection and online user experience.
'To start off this session Chris, one of the youth moderators, informed us about the things that happen when we put something online. He told us that the things we put online stay there forever and that it's stored in the databases of companies.
'Then, we were divided up in small groups of three people where we would write the negatives of internet use and then the solutions we think these negativities should have. We then presented our problems and solutions to the whole group.
'Chris then showed us a picture of what different companies get access to when you agree to their terms and conditions – including lots of access to our privacy.
'During this session, I learned that my phone isn't so private when I am downloading apps, such as Facebook, and give them access to my pictures. I also learned that even if the terms and conditions are long and difficult, we should read them or be aware of what we are agreeing to. We also learned about a website named Privacy Salon - here, you can find steps on how to protect your data and devices.
'My favourite part about this was that it gave me information I didn't have before - important information about my privacy rights.
'I took home to my friends and classmates information about what different types of social media are getting access to when you agree to their terms and conditions. I will be sharing this information with as many people as I can.'