Microsoft's teen Council for Digital Good at one year: Learning, sharing and growing
Microsoft is a supporter of Safer Internet Day, the annual celebration of creating a safer and better internet for children and young people across the globe, and frequently launches new research and initiatives in support of the campaign. Last October, we reported on the establishment of Microsoft's Council for Digital Good. Here, Jacqueline Beauchere, Chief Online Safety Officer at Microsoft, reports on the success of its teen council after one year of operation.
This month marks one year since we selected our inaugural Council for Digital Good: 15 teens from across the US, focused on improving online safety and promoting digital civility around the world. The year has been full of learning, sharing and growing for all of us – and there's more to come! – as we continue to foster safer and healthier online interactions for everyone.
We assembled this inspiring group of young people as part of a pilot program to bolster Microsoft's youth-focused, online safety policy work. We brought council members and a parent or chaperone to our Redmond, Washington, campus for a two-day summit last August. After months of planning and conference calls, we saw the summer summit as a capstone event. Instead, it was just the beginning.
"I look forward to using our political capital as council members to make a change in our government and society," said Robert, an 18-year-old Council member from Connecticut. "We've started to see the power of youth in the past few months. I'm optimistic that we, like many other people our age, can make a difference in America."
Indigo, a 14-year-old council member from California agrees, adding: "Ever since I left the summit last August, I've taken all the tools I learned and discussed and applied them to my everyday life. For example, I now think more about what I say and post online, and I also try to educate others whenever possible about digital civility and their ‘digital footprints.'"
At the August 2017 summit, each council member drafted a written manifesto for life online, and then took on three more assignments in as many months:
- An artistic representation of their individual manifestos, which yielded rap songs, videos, paintings, mixed-media art and digital works;
- A consolidated written manifesto from the full council that focuses on digital skills, advice and perspective, including thoughts for maintaining a healthy online outlook; and
- A visual representation of the cohort manifesto.
In addition, the council went beyond these specific assignments and crafted a separate vision document, outlining members' roles, their mission and the impact they want to have.
This article is an abstract from a recent Microsoft blog article and is reproduced here with permission. Read the full Microsoft blog article on the "Microsoft on the issues" blog, including an overview of how Council members marked Safer Internet Day 2018.
According to Microsoft's latest study, released on Safer Internet Day (SID) 2018, people's digital interactions and responses to online risks appear to be improving around the world – though perhaps surprisingly, many of those who have been targeted for abuse online say their perpetrators came from their immediate families and social circles.