Empowering young people at the Twitter Youth Summit

On 24 February 2021, Twitter hosted an event for young people. Called the Twitter Youth Summit, the aim of the event was for Twitter to inform young people about how they can be empowered to have their voice heard on social media. Twitter also took the opportunity to hear from youth about problems they encounter online in three distinct areas, namely mental health, cyberbullying and equality, and environment and sustainability. Here, Lorcan Tuohy, member of the Webwise youth panel (part of the Irish Safer Internet Centre) and BIK Youth Ambassador, looks back on the event.

2021-03-25 Lorcan Tuohy, BIK Youth Ambassador youth cyberbullying children and young people, organisations and industry
Young man on a laptop

"Stephen Turner, Public Policy Director at Twitter, opened the event with a short introduction to the evening and introduced his colleagues. The presentation began with a brief session on how social media platforms, such as Twitter, can be used as a force for good. Discussion focused on how media provides a great avenue for empowerment with movements such as BLM (Black Lives Matter) using the platform to share information and assist in providing a global spotlight on those who support such movements. The presentation also illustrated how Twitter encourages empowerment, showing the ease of being able to join a conversation and contribute to a discussion using hashtags and other Twitter features. Many empowerment methods via social media are becoming more powerful and common day by day, and this gives youth a big opportunity to have their voices heard.

"The second part of the presentation was given by Niamh McDade, Deputy Head of UK Public Policy at Twitter. Niamh provided a focus on safety and security when using the internet and social media. The primary focus was on Twitter’s safety features and different methods used to ensure that the Twitter platform is as safe as it can be for all its users. We were informed of many different techniques of blocking and protecting ourselves from content that might be considered harmful such as limiting who can reply to your posts, and blocking all posts from your timeline that contain certain user-defined keywords or hashtags.

"The final part of Twitter’s presentation was given by Kennedy O’Brien, Senior Public Policy Associate at Twitter. Kennedy provided an opportunity for participants to engage in open discussions about media literacy and digital citizenship. The discussions started with a focus on media literacy which plays a huge passive role in our day-to-day consumption. Having a conversation with youth, in particular, is important as it makes them aware of the content they consume. The definition of media literacy was discussed, along with the importance of its role. Following on from this, there was a discussion about consuming content through social media and what steps need to be taken to verify a source of information. Discussion then moved on to the topic of digital citizenship, including what it means to be a digital citizen and how it affects us and our digital footprint. The discussion ended with Twitter showing more features to encourage awareness of media literacy and the content we consume.

"The second half of the event utilised breakout rooms where discussions could be had on the three topics of mental health, cyberbullying and equality, and the environment and sustainability. Some very fruitful discussions took place with a number of young voices speaking up and voicing their concerns and opinions about the topics and the questions placed before them. The discussions and conclusions drawn in the breakouts were subsequently discussed with the wider audience, with Twitter staff also engaging in the topics.

"The event was an overall success; a number of young people were able to gain an insight into what Twitter is doing in order to make its platform better for people to voice their opinions and concerns, as well as what is being done to ensure that those who use the platform are kept safe while doing so. Events like these are very important as they provide an opportunity for young people to work directly with industry on issues that concern them. With plenty of takeaways for both the young people in attendance as well as Twitter, the event was a pure joy to be a part of. Equally, it is encouraging to see industry taking such steps to ensure that the voice of youth is being heard."

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

Bio picture of Lorcan Tuohy, BIK Youth Ambassador

Lorcan (Ireland)

I'm Lorcan and I'm a 17-year-old student from Ireland. I first became interested in online safety through my own experiences online and I signed up to become a Safer Internet Day (SID) Ambassador with the Irish Safer Internet Centre. I organised online safety events in my school for Safer Internet Day and I became a member of the Irish Youth Panel. Through this role, I have taken part in open policy debates and panel discussions focusing on the challenges and benefits of technology. These include an Open Policy Debate organised by the Irish Government in March this year which lead to the first Online Safety Strategy, and the EMEA Child Safety Summit hosted by Google and Facebook in April of this year. I'm also a member of Tipperary Comhairle na nÓg, where we actively promote positive use of technology and being aware of online safety.

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