Latest BIK bulletin - Positive online content, GDPR and post-summer roundup

In each edition of the BIK bulletin, we look at a topical issue - our main focus this month is on positive online content as we introduce our new campaign and reflect on the importance of being aware of what constitutes positive content for a wide range of stakeholders.

A good website or app can help to change a young person's life. It can help kids learn, develop and express themselves, while having fun at the same time. Equally, provision of such content and services can help to contribute to a better internet. To promote its creation and use, we've recently launched a new Positive Online Content Campaign (POCC) with the release of a new website and associated activities.

What is positive online content?

The ultimate goal of the Positive Online Content Campaign (POCC) is to build a better online experience for children: an internet with positive online content that "enables children to learn, have fun, create, enjoy, to develop a positive view of themselves and respect for their identity, and to enhance their participation in society and motivates them to produce and distribute their own positive content."

Aside from the general promotion of positive online content, the campaign also aims to provide concrete and practical tools that help with the creation and spread of such content. For example, creators, educators and parents alike can benefit from a checklist with qualities and criteria for positive online content, which can be used across Europe as it has been translated into 23 languages, or consult examples of what positive online content looks like in practice.

Different groups, different benefits

While primarily taking place at a European level, the campaign also seeks to highlight a multitude of national activities as organised by Safer Internet Centres (SICs) across Europe. A campaign awareness week took place 25-29 September 2017 targeting different stakeholders each day. It signifies the start of raising awareness of the issue which will continue as an integral part of the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) line of work: children, teachers and educators, parents and carers, and content providers and producers are all encouraged to get involved and benefit from the campaign in their own way.

In shaping the Positive Online Content Campaign, we've established a few core principles as follows…

Firstly, we believe that children's digital literacy skills should be developed from an early age by exploring the internet while also being protected from (future) possible online risks, such as encountering inappropriate content, cyberbullying or grooming. By exposing young children to high quality online content from their very first experiences, they can learn how to recognise the basic components of appropriate and positive content and services.

Secondly, digital content is playing an increasingly significant role in education, from an ever-younger age. Therefore, teachers and educators should be equipped to navigate effortlessly through the wide array of online content. Not only do they need to feel confident about ensuring a safe digital classroom environment, they also should be able to tap into the potential of online content to enrich lessons and other educational activities. The POCC website includes a database with examples of positive online content to help educators to do so. Additionally, educators should position themselves as role models when it comes to digital literacy.

Thirdly, parents and carers want what is best for their children, and ensuring their safety while also stimulating them to explore the sheer amount of online services and content is not an easy task. The campaign therefore also aims to inform parents and carers of what they should look for in online content or services that respects their children's needs and learning capacities. However, digital literacy is not only crucial for children: similar to educators, in order for parents to be digital role models and to have meaningful conversations with their kids about media preferences and problems, they should also be digitally literate.

Lastly, producers and providers of digital content and services probably play the biggest role in ensuring that younger generations have access to appropriate, safe, informative and empowering online experiences from the outset. Both large industry players and small independent producers should take responsibility in this area when designing, developing and distributing content. As noted above, an updated and translated positive online content checklist has been provided to help content developers to design, adapt and customise their products to contribute to raising an empowered and digitally-skilled generation of active citizens.

Roundup of the Awareness Week

In a European Commission blog article, published to coincide with the launch of the Awareness Week, Claire Bury, Deputy Director-General, Directorate-General Communications Networks, Content and Technology, outlined the importance of the campaign: "Developing digital literacy in young people from a very early age will lay the foundations for them to assess the content they find online in a critical manner. With the right tools, we can enhance their resilience to online risks and to content they may find disturbing while surfing the web. By having access to high quality content from their very first online experience, children can learn how to recognise the basic components of appropriate and trustworthy content and services."

During the awareness week, a range of activities took place to target each of the key stakeholder groups:

We hope that these resources will continue to be utilised beyond the awareness week as we collectively strive to provide better experiences for children through positive online content!

Visit the Positive Online Content Campaign website to learn more about positive online content concepts and approaches across Europe, and continue the discussions on social media using the #positivecontent and #ChatPOCC hashtags.

View the full September 2017 edition of the BIK bulletin.

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