Raising awareness with Portuguese youth on SID

  • Awareness
  • 22/02/2017
  • João Pedro Martins, Youth Ambassador

On the occasion of Safer Internet Day (SID) 2017, we asked our Youth Ambassadors how they would be marking the day and contributing to the theme of "Be the change: Unite for a better internet". Here, João Pedro Martins from Portugal tells us about his actions in raising awareness with youth in his country.

"Safer Internet Day is celebrated around the world with many global and local activities taking place. Such activities are ultimately a means to raise awareness towards a better, more positive internet. The day is a great opportunity both to reflect on what still needs to be done, but also to educate on what people should already be doing. As last year, I decided that I wanted to take part in the SID campaign, so I went for it and accepted three invitations to give talks at local schools. Let me tell you all about the first two.

"Reaching out to young people is always a challenge. My key advantage is that I am young and yet, at the same time, old enough for them to recognise me as being a source of knowledge. Each session is unique, because the participating youth share different stories and ask original questions, so their reactions are always impossible to predict. In a sense, that is perhaps what challenges me the most, because I can prepare four different presentations for four different age groups, but end up doing ten different ones! All in all, I would say that I learn as much as I am teaching, and the young people understand that as well, since I make sure they know that I am listening to them too.

"My talks have two different aspects: the first one being a brief explanation on what/why/when is SID and what I do as a Youth Ambassador. The second part focuses on providing some practical advice and addressing online safety issues. Depending on the age group of the audience, which ranged between ten and sixteen, I focused on the positive use of smartphones, conscious data production and consumption, and copyright implications.

"The SID 2017 theme of "Be the change: Unite for a better internet" means everybody needs to step up and be an example. Contributing to a better internet requires action not only now, but also continuously through time, by either supporting good initiatives, or even creating them. Everyone should care for their own online safety and, at the same time, look out for the safety of others online."

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:

João Pedro is a 19-year-old computer engineering student at Coimbra's University. He has been a youth ambassador for about five years. Born in Portugal, he was one of the first members from outside Lisbon to join the youth panel of his national Safer Internet Centre (SIC). After attending a Safer Internet Forum (SIF) in Luxembourg in 2011 representing his country, he was invited to be a youth ambassador. Since then he has attended a number of seminars and, over the years, has had the opportunity both to share and learn about online safety issues, as well as to get to know a lot of interesting people from all around the world.

Young people's opinions are very important to him and he believes they should be taken into account by politicians and companies. That is why he is involved in several projects, most of them connected to youth participation in debates and decisions. In recent months, he has worked alongside his national Safer Internet Centre (SIC) organising lectures in local schools.

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