The outcomes of the Youth Pledge for a Better Internet, one year on

On Safer Internet Day (SID) 2021 – which we celebrated on Tuesday, 9 February 2021 – the Youth Pledge for a Better Internet celebrated its first year of existence. Below, we look back on the achievements of this youth-led initiative in partnership with industry representatives from the Alliance to better protect minors online aimed at making online platforms’ terms and conditions more age appropriate.

2021-03-08 BIK team youth data privacy children and young people, organisations and industry, research, policy and decision makers

After a preliminary mapping exercise of research and youth consultation work within the Insafe network of European Safer Internet Centres to lay the groundwork for the Youth Pledge, a group of Better Internet for Kids (BIK) Youth Ambassadors launched their initiative on Safer Internet Day 2020, at the European Commission, in front of representatives of the Alliance to better protect minors online and of the EU institutions.

Group picture taken at the launch of the Youth Pledge for a Better Internet on Safer Internet Day 2020 at the European Commission

On Safer Internet Day 2020, BIK Youth Ambassadors met with industry, EU institutions and civil society representatives to launch the Youth Pledge for a Better Internet

An initiative by young people, for young people

One of the main objectives of the Youth Pledge is to incentivise tech companies to make sure their online platforms and services meet the information and transparency requirements laid out in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Indeed, every citizen of the EU has the right to obtain information about what happens to their personal data "in a concise, transparent, intelligible and easily accessible form, using clear and plain language". Article 12 of the GDPR emphasises that this should be particularly the case for information addressed specifically to a child. 

Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) provides that, in order to come up with truly informative, effective and appealing privacy or data policies, children should be involved in the information design and evaluation processes. In its first year of existence, the Youth Pledge has been aiming to make these aspirations a concrete reality, through the establishment of a dialogue between young people and some industry representatives from the Alliance to better protect minors online.

The achievements of the Youth Pledge, one year on

As part of its participation in the Youth Pledge, the LEGO Group is co-creating with children and young people a comprehensive, accessible and relevant way for them to communicate more about data privacy and what a positive and responsible use of data is. To do so, the LEGO Group developed a research method that focuses on children’s ability to understand the meaning of the words used in communications about data privacy, including what it means for them in terms of risks and benefits.

Samsung organised a series of ad-hoc workshops with 60 students in Poland and in the Baltic states, in two phases, the first one focusing on detecting the problems and needs of the young users, and the second phase being more solution-oriented. In doing so, Samsung aimed to create greater awareness and understanding of digital well-being and to provide easier access to tailored online safety information and tools. In this context, the most relevant issues identified by young people were the time spent online, as well as hate speech. To mitigate those, they came up with a range of solutions ranging from open dialogue with parents and carers, to communications activities and technical solutions.

Sulake, who owns two online games that are popular among children and young people – Habbo and Hotel Hideaway – also involved young people in shaping and designing the platforms’ terms and conditions so as to adapt them to a younger audience. These young people identified a range of promising options to do so – to quote only a few, creating a shorter version of the terms and conditions; offering a game to learn about the hot topics of terms and conditions; creating terms and conditions ambassadors in-game; producing a video explaining the most important topics of the terms and conditions. Working this way with young people allowed Sulake to improve their products according to their users’ real needs, and prevented the company from getting stuck in a single thought process. 

According to German television network SUPER RTL, who also took part in the Youth Pledge, “there are long-term benefits to working with young people and it has been so valuable to SUPER RTL – knowing what children want, need and do has helped us as a company, especially in the shift from TV to digital provider”. The concrete activity put in place by the network in the framework of its participation in the Youth Pledge was to gather children’s comprehensive opinions on the terms and conditions form designed for users aged 6-11 concerning TOGGO radio.

TTC Labs, a cross-industry effort initiated and supported by Facebook to create innovative design solutions that put people in control of their privacy, has also been involved in the Youth Pledge for a Better Internet. TTC Labs published a draft guide in June 2020 on “How to design with trust, transparency and control for young people”, followed by a series of seven virtual global roundtables to gather feedback from experts and youth ambassadors from all over the world. This feedback was incorporated in the second version of the guide.

From November 2020 to January 2021, as part of its participation in the Youth Pledge for a Better Internet, Twitter organised three webinars involving 9 BIK Youth Ambassadors on filter bubbles and algorithms; disinformation; and the positive use of Twitter and social media more generally. BIK Youth Ambassadors also participated in the Twitter Youth Summit. Moreover, BIK Youth Ambassadors had the opportunity to provide feedback on Twitter’s revised verification policy.

If you would like to learn more about the Youth Pledge, we suggest the following reading:

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