Safer Internet Forum 2018 a great success

The Safer Internet Forum 2018 took place on Tuesday, 20 November 2018 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Brussels, Belgium. More than 250 people from approximately 40 countries participated in discussions around "The impact of technology on children, young people and society".

As part of the European Strategy for a Better Internet for Children, Safer Internet Forum (SIF) is a key annual international conference taking place in Europe where all stakeholders involved in children and young people's online safety are represented: policy makers, researchers, law enforcement bodies, youth, parents and carers, teachers, NGOs, industry representatives, experts and so on.

The 2018 theme was "The impact of technology on children, young people and society", focusing on how technology affects children and young people's self-identity and personal relationships, and how the different groups of stakeholders can address the challenges respectively.

In the morning, Dr Linda Papadopoulos gave a keynote speech on "How digital technologies transform the perception of ourselves and our personal relationships" and engaged in a panel discussion with Geert Reynders, parent of a victim of an online challenge, Emma Collins, EMEA Public Policy Manager at Instagram and Marjolijn Bonthuis-Krijger, Deputy Durector of ECP.

Dr. Linda Papadopoulos at SIF 2018

Dr Linda Papadopoulos giving a keynote speech on the impact of technology on children's personal development

This was followed by a High-level address by Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society during which she presented the winners of the #SaferInternet4EU Awards, a key feature of the 2018 edition of SIF. The awards aim to showcase and reward some of the best practices in the promotion of online safety, media literacy and cyber hygiene. On this occasion, all three finalists from each category joined SIF and met with the Commissioner.

  • The youth category was won by students from the high school of Tichero, Greece, with their Qwwwiz "Stay Safe Online" App.
  • The teachers category was won by Nina Jelen (Slovenia) for her project "Travelling Around the Virtual World".
  • The professional organisations category was won by Gezinsbond and Child Focus (Belgium) for their "Safely Online" project.

Commenting on the Awards, Commissioner Gabriel said: "I was impressed by the variety and quality of the entries received. We could only award three winners, but I am pleased that the topics of the #SaferInternet4EU campaign are being widely addressed throughout Europe. I am looking forward to following future developments and best practices that can create a better internet for all." For more information about the #SaferInternet4EU Awards, see the Awards section on the BIK portal or visit the European Commission's website.

The winners of the #SaferInternet4EU Awards and Commissioner Gabriel

Commissioner Gabriel and the #SaferInternet4EU Awards winners

This session also provided an opportunity for a Q&A between the Commissioner and several #SaferInternet4EU Ambassadors: MEPs Anna Maria Corazza Bildt and Andrey Novakov, Harry McCann, young Irish entrepreneur, and Sonia Livingstone, researcher at the London School of Economics and Political Science. The panellists each brought their unique point of view on what the biggest challenges are for them, and which issues should be a priority on the safer internet agenda. 

Another new feature of SIF was presented in the afternoon; a series of "deep-dive sessions" on sexting (Nel Broothaerts and Mattias De Paep), data privacy (Chris Pinchen), child sexual abuse material (CSAM) (Fred Langford and Peter-Paul Urlaub), online challenges (Will Gardner and Geert Reynders), deep fakes (Boris Radanović), and youth (Barbara Buchegger and the BIK Youth Panel).

The day ended with a focus on the impact technology has on society as a whole, with very interesting interventions by Noa Jansma, creator of the @dearcatcallers Instagram account, and Pr Homero Gil de Zuniga, who presented the concept of "second screening" to the audience.

The BIK Youth 2018 edition

The BIK Youth Panel, 2018 edition

On the day preceding SIF (Monday, 19 November 2018), 18 BIK Youth panellists from all over Europe joined forces to create an awareness campaign on young people's personal development on social media entitled #MyDigitalSelfandI, which they then presented during a deep-dive session at SIF. In this context, they also created a video clip which you can watch below.

Find out more about Safer Internet Forum 2018, including the agenda and a brief description of each session on our website. For more details, a post-event report will be made available shortly at the same location.

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