Let us unite for a more tolerant internet!
- Ľuboš Perniš, Youth Ambassador
On the occasion of Safer Internet Day (SID) 2017, we asked our Youth Ambassadors to tell us what the theme of "Be the change: Unite for a better internet" means to them. Here, Ľuboš Perniš shares his views on the issue of intolerance online.
"On 7 February 2017, we celebrated Safer Internet Day. Although the day itself has passed, the struggle for a safer and better internet is persistent. With this short blog post, I would like to touch upon one of the most pressing challenges of today's online environment - intolerance.
"So what exactly is intolerance online and why should we all be concerned? By online intolerance, I mean content which spreads inflammatory messages and other dangerous notions such as fake news websites promoting fascist ideologies. Examples include blogs talking about discriminating against minorities or other races.
"It is not hard to see why this is extremely problematic and why minors especially are under threat. Young people, in general, are in the phase of forming their beliefs and values. It is therefore the responsibility of policy makers and the broad public to provide them with a safe environment where they can develop freely. I do not want to dedicate many words to discussing until what age young people should be given special protection online. Whether it is 18 or even more, we should be aware that if youth are faced with dangerous and intolerant content online, it has an impact on them two-fold. The most direct and tangible consequence of being confronted by offensive content is that young people stop feeling safe online. However, the broader implication can be even more worrying: if young people happen to be persuaded or influenced by, for example, alternative news sources promoting intolerant content, they might also lose their faith in the more formal institutions of our society, education and, more broadly, democracy too.
"In no way do I want to end by painting such a bleak picture. I am convinced that changes at policy level, working together with industry, can create a more tolerant online environment for young people. Above all, however, I want to appeal to all users online to take steps on their own to "be the change". Because, by behaving in a more tolerant approach, we can have the biggest impact by far."
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:
Ľuboš (18) is from Slovakia and graduated from a high school in Austria. He is pursuing his desire to acquire an in-depth understanding of our society by studying Politics, Philosophy and Economics at UCL. He is also passionate about travelling, languages and skiing. Ľuboš has been a youth ambassador for five years, and is particularly interested in positive content and online participation.
- BIK Team
On Tuesday 7 February 2017, we celebrated the 14th edition of Safer Internet Day. With a theme of "Be the change: Unite for a better internet", the day called upon all stakeholders to join together to make the internet a safer and better place for all, and especially for children and young people.
- Guest blogger
Here at the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) portal, our aim is to provide a multistakeholder platform showcasing a range of viewpoints and experiences on keeping children and young people safe online. As such, we welcome guest blog posts on our areas of focus. We were recently contacted by TechieJB, a blogger on social media, cyber security, and online privacy, who shared with us her views on keeping teens safe on social media.