Can young people bring about better internet governance?

  • News
  • 29/06/2016
  • Anna Iosif (Youth representative)

In this article, Anna Iosif reflects on her recent experiences in attending the New Media Summer School and EuroDIG events, and asks whether young people can influence a better internet through involvement in internet governance discussions.

Through the New Media Summer School, a pre-event of EuroDIG held 6-9 June 2016, young people (aged 18-27) from across the European continent had the opportunity to:
  • peer learn with youths from other European countries and backgrounds.
  • discuss and exchange ideas with experienced net politics practitioners.
  • work on the yearly youth statement to be presented at EuroDIG and the global Internet Governance Forum (IGF).
  • prepare, with peers, further actions and campaigns to promote the voice of youth during EuroDIG. 
Following on from the preparation done during the New Media Summer School, the next two days we presented at the main event – EuroDIG - our youth statement, which included our views on different aspects, such as on open access to academic content, net neutrality, affirmative action in multistakeholderism, mass surveillance, and access to the internet. Also, in our summer school preparation we had a deep discussion on geo-blocking, and youth participation in internet governance.
 
At EuroDIG, we stated that geo-blocking must come to an end since it is discriminatory, making it harder for linguistic minorities and all Europeans to access audio-visual material in different languages. In addition to that, geo-blocking is both inconsistent with the idea of the single market and it prevents consumers from accessing content.
 
We also placed emphasis on youth participation in internet governance matters as we strongly believe that they must be encouraged in the dialogue through mentorship, resources and capacity building. Youth participation must have the aim of transforming youth into strong actors in internet governance debates and processes through:
 
Formal education - through the inclusion of media literacy on school curricula. A definition of media literacy shared in NMSA's October 2001 Classroom Connection says, "Media literacy is the ability to access, interpret, analyse, evaluate, and use all forms of media from direct mail pieces to newspaper articles and television advertisements to internet content." Media literacy is an important topic to be integrated throughout the curriculum so that every young person has the opportunity to become actively engaged in learning about it. Internet governance must set a priority to ensure that there is equal access to education and equal opportunities, and also overcome gender stereotypes in media literacy education and address the needs of all types of gender appropriately.
 
Non-formal education - by providing more training opportunities and events for youth people, and investing more funding in youth participation in internet governance. Longer-term projects and mentorships would ensure engagement and involvement of young individuals rather than one-off fellowships and grants.
 
Through this combined approach, there will thus be a development of skills, knowledge and attitude both inside and outside the classroom.
 
After a week full of discussions and debates, as youth we are now more knowledgeable on internet governance aspects and, at the same time, confident that we can actually make the change for a better internet governance. The next EuroDIG in 2017 will take place in Estonia, and I am sure that a great team of young people, again, will work together for a great outcome!
 
Find our more about EuroDIG.
 
Find out more about the annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF).
 
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 of this article:
Anna Iosif is a third year student, studying Accounting and Finance at the University of Glasgow. She is an alumnus of Cyprus Children's Parliament.
 
She is part of an active youth movement interested in gaining knowledge and experiences from different areas, having new challenges and thus developing her personality. As a member of the Cyprus Children's Parliament she and her fellows exchanged views on different perspectives related to children's rights and safety. Through that they tried to affect the way that the community as a whole treats children's issues, and give, from their perspective, some suggestions for improvement. That was the motivation for her to make the first steps and enter the internet community, not just from the side of a user, but at that time as a fellow of the New Media Summer School and a member of EuroDIG 2016.
 

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How often do Europeans engage in discussions on public policy issues relating to the internet, namely on internet governance? And how many young Europeans are aware of the intrinsic importance of this topic or the ways in which they can actively contribute?