The importance of youth participation in digital matters
June Lowery-Kingston, Head of Unit for Accessibility, Multilingualism and Safer Internet at DG CONNECT, European Commission, opened the event by stating that nothing in the field of online safety should happen without consulting young users. Indeed, Article 24 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights on children’s right to participation provides that "children (…) may express their views freely. Such views shall be taken into consideration on matters which concern them in accordance with their age and maturity. (…) In all actions relating to children, whether taken by public authorities or private institutions, the child’s best interests must be a primary consideration.”
What is more, as digital natives, children and young people’s experiences of the digital environment are fundamentally different from those of adults, who are digital immigrants. On these matters, adults can only learn from the younger generation. However, with digital opportunities come digital risks, and that is where adults can provide young people with guidance in order to foster a better internet.
BIK Youth Panel 2020 – different format, same success!
Due to the restrictive measures in place around Europe to tackle the pandemic, the 2020 edition of the BIK Youth Panel had to be organised fully online, contrary to previous years when the young people would participate in preparatory online meetings before meeting face-to-face in Brussels for two days of intense preparation prior to the Safer Internet Forum.
Another significant change this year was the number of participants, which nearly doubled. Consequently, 48 young people from all over Europe participated in this year’s edition of the BIK Youth Panel. A summary of the BIK Youth Panel, which took place online on Wednesday, 18 and Thursday, 19 November 2020, is available on the Better Internet for Kids portal.
The BIK Youth Panel at Safer Internet Forum – a wide scope of themes discussed
Ella, a BIK Youth Ambassador, introduced the panel discussion about the BIK Youth Panel 2020. In the two months leading up to Safer Internet Forum, the 48 young people were split into six groups for their preparatory work, with each group focusing on the topic of their preference.
From the six selected topics – “fake or real”, “human and ethical”, “mental health and disabilities”, “education on and off the internet”, “timeline of technological and communicative advancement” and “teacher education – it appeared that the main online safety and wellbeing issues which many young people consider important are:
- misinformation, disinformation and scams online;
- the promotion of human rights in the online sphere;
- the protection of young people’s mental health online and the creation of an inclusive space online for young people with varied disabilities;
- the need for better online resources for young people on certain particularly under-addressed topics, such as sex education;
- the fast-paced evolution of means of communications and the need to put safeguards in place against the potentially detrimental effects of some emerging technologies, notably those related to Artificial Intelligence (AI);
- and the necessity to raise the digital literacy levels among teachers, to enable remote teaching and learning to reach its full potential.
During the panel discussion, each group of youth panellists introduced their theme and presented the awareness video which they produced. These videos, along with additional background information about each theme, are available on an article dedicated to the BIK Youth Panel 2020 on the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) portal.
The session concluded with attendees contributing to an interactive word cloud to share their main take-away from the session.
The recording of the BIK Youth side-event at the Safer Internet Forum 2020 is available on the Better Internet for Kids portal. Additionally, you may find further information about the BIK Youth Panel on bikyouth.eu.