The 11th European Dialogue on Internet Governance (EuroDIG) took place this year in Tbilisi, Georgia. The programme started on 3 June 2018 with a two-day youth pre-event named YouthDIG, Day 0 discussions took place on 4 June 2018, while the main event opened its doors on the morning of 5 June 2018 under the theme "Innovative strategies for our digital future".
This year I participated in both the YouthDIG and EuroDIG programmes as a Greek Youth Ambassador for the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) youth programme, as well as being a representative of the Council of Europe (CoE). YouthDIG aims to prepare internet governance (IG) newcomers in order to be ready to actively participate in the main event. The sessions on the first day were facilitated in the Tech Park Georgia and included an introduction to EuroDIG and the IG ecosphere. In a workshop session, we were divided into teams and analysed some IG-related cases – in my case, the right to be forgotten – to build a team opinion with pros and cons, while also considering how legislation could be further improved. Afterwards, a session focused on human rights approaches to youth participation in IG took place. There, we discussed the conclusions of a seminar which took place in the Youth Center of the CoE in Strasburg which focused on sharing best practices and making an active campaign plan in order to bring more youth into the IG ecosystem. Some of the most important outputs of the session were that:
- Youth should become a stakeholder.
- Youth should have representatives in almost every panel and session in IG forums.
- Awareness should be raised in universities and schools about IG and IG-related issues.
- Opportunities for participation should be mapped and communicated.
- Educational material should be created and workshops should be organised.
The events of the second day took place in the main event venue and included further briefing sessions about IG-related issues and, at the end of the day, the drafting of youth messages which, this year, focused on digital inclusion and digital literacy, as well as data privacy and cybersecurity.
On Day 0 of EuroDIG, a session named "Don't forget silver surfers – Digital inclusion and literacy focused on seniors" took place, co-organised by European Schoolnet. The aim of the session was to discuss how we can eliminate the "age gap" on the internet and make it friendlier for "seniors". Among the panel were two Better Internet for Kids (BIK) Youth Ambassadors (myself and João from Portugal), the Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia, Dr. Teimuraz, and Sofia from the Portuguese Safer Internet Centre (SIC). After a very interesting and meaningful discussion, we came up with a series of messages, with the most important being:
- Not all seniors have been sheltered from technology; some of them stood in the roots of the internet.
- Adult learning methodology should start with raising awareness, followed by teaching digital tools based on an individual approach.
- Often, it's not so much about infrastructural access but rather about increasing motivation of those who are 60-70+ to use technology and applications, and improve their skills.
- The majority of software and content are in English, which creates additional problems for silver surfers.
- Software and applications should be as simple as possible to keep silver surfers inspired to continue digital learning.
- We should look into possibilities to create more common places for youngsters and the elderly, for example combining schools and community centres.
Also on Day 1, I participated in a flash session about "Children's rights for a better internet" again organised by European Schoolnet. The purpose was to raise awareness about children's rights online and gauge the perception of the audience on statements related to this topic via interactive activities. Myself and Joao also participated in this session in order to share our experiences, opinions and voices as youth.
Furthermore, via my active participation in numerous sessions and workshops, I had the chance to share my opinions, learn new things, and engage deeper in internet governance issues. This year's EuroDIG was once again a wonderful experience and I encourage all those who are interested in internet governance, or those who want to expand their knowledge, to participate next year in the Netherlands!
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.
About the author
Charalampos is a 20 year old former YEP youth panellist. Currently a student at the Department of Informatics and Telecommunications of National and Kapodistian University of Athens, he is an active participant in international conferences on internet governance such as SEEDIG, IGF, EuroDIG, YouthDIG and the Better Internet for Kids Youth Panel.
In his spare time he is a passionate hiker, cyclist and sailor.