Safer Internet Day 2017 - Be the change: Unite for a better internet

  • Awareness
  • 06/02/2017
  • Ida, Swedish youth panellist

Hearing the views and the voices of youth is an important part of the work we do in aiming to create a better internet for kids. As part of our Safer Internet Day (SID) 2017 celebrations, we hear from 16-year-old Ida from Sweden.

I recently read something thoughtful that one of my friends had written on Facebook. The point was that we have to stop calling the internet "another world", because it is not. The internet is in today's society: it's a big part of our everyday life, so we can't continue to say that it's another world.

Social media is a big part of our daily life: it's a place for everyone, regardless of their age, where we can do a lot of things and it takes up a big part of our lives. Don't get me wrong, the internet and social media contribute to a whole lot of positive things, but I believe there's a negative side effect, especially to social media. The side effect is that we start to live our lives through social media and kind of forget the life we have beside it. It is more important to get a lot of likes and comments on your posts and have Snapchat days with as many friends or people as possible instead of meeting people face to face and having real interactions. Today we know how to read signs online by way of looking at the emojis and what type of picture people send on Snapchat but I've started to notice that sometimes it replaces the actions, like meeting up with someone and having real-life conversations face to face. We have started to become too comfortable with staying at home and talking to our friends through the internet. And, in the long run, I think it will have a negative effect on the way that we interact with people outside of our screens.

I believe we have to start reflecting on how we want to live our lives when it includes the internet and social media, and decide what we think is most important. Do we want to live half our lives through social media and do we really want it to be the only space where we are social? I mean, what gives you the best power boost - sending countless selfies to your friends and receiving them as well? Liking their photos and posts on social media and having conversations in the comments section where you talk about how pretty they look? Or actually meeting up with your friends for a cup of coffee and having long conversations about life where you can share your thoughts and listen to others? I don't know about you, but meeting up with my best friend, in person, gives me so much more energy than having days on Snapchat where we send short messages to each other.

For this Safer Internet Day, I will reflect on how I use social media in my everyday life and what purpose I want to use it for. I also want others to reflect on questions I believe we unfortunately have stopped asking ourselves: How much do I use social media? Do I make the internet safer by spending too much time doing - but not providing - things? And there is also a question I would like to add, that I have been thinking about for a while now: How can I start to turn the things that I do online into something more, providing for not only me but for the whole world? The internet is amazing; we have to remember that. But it is our responsibility to take care of it and create an environment that is peaceful, respectful and rewarding. And we also have to reflect on how we use it and why we are using it.

About the author of this article:

Ida (16) goes to school in Sweden where she works with the internet every day. In 2014, Ida represented her country in the youth panel at the Safer Internet Forum (SIF) in Brussels and, following that, became a youth ambassador. Ida thinks it's important to listen to what youth all over the world has to say about the internet, because it's such a big part of our lives. She feels that the opinions of young people are just as important as those of adults and that both parties working together will achieve the best results.

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