European teenagers use their voices for digital good at Italy's Safer Internet Day events

  • Awareness
  • 22/02/2019
  • Jacqueline Beauchere, Microsoft Chief Online Safety Officer

On Monday, 4 February 2019, the 2020 Smarter Internet for Kids Agenda took place in Milan, Italy, gathering many different stakeholders to discuss the priority areas affecting young people online. Microsoft participated in the event to hear the ideas and view the work of dozens of teens, and to promote digital civility, safer and healthier online interactions among all people. During the event, the youth also presented 16 goals to mark 16 years of Safer Internet Day.

Infographic of Microsoft Smarter Internet for Kids priorities

© Copyright Microsoft / 2020 Smart Internet for Kids

The European Council for Digital Good, a "sister" council to Microsoft's inaugural Council for Digital Good, conducted an online survey in 34 countries, involving more than 2,000 youth. Participants were asked to select the 16 most significant and topical online safety issues, to mark 16 years of international Safer Internet Day. Hence, among European teenagers' online concerns, privacy and data protection come first. Child sexual exploitation, misinformation and hate speech also rank among the top 16.

Once these 16 priority areas were identified, young people from ten countries designed specific targets for each, and the means of achieving them. They then presented their work at the event with posters. Visitors could vote for the most compelling and informative poster; the one on online wellbeing came first.

For more information about the 2020 Smarter Internet for Kids initiative, visit

Microsoft hosts pre-Safer Internet Day activities in Milan

A pre-Safer Internet Day working session for 60 teenagers was organised at the Microsoft House in Milan, on Sunday, 3 February 2019. There, the young people gathered to learn of the priority areas from members of the European Council for Digital Good, discuss the issues and create their posters.

Nine teenagers were selected to prepare for three separate panel discussions the next day. Jacqueline Beauchere, Microsoft Chief Online Safety Officer served as the adult respondent on the panel. The sessions were thought-provoking and compelling. The youth discussed topics such as the generational digital divide, the constant quest for likes and followers, the risks and realities of sexting, as well as cyberbullying.

"Listening and heeding the voice of youth is essential in the online world," said Janice Richardson, the creator of international Safer Internet Day and the coordinator of the European Council for Digital Good. "Children and young people are generally the early adopters of new technology, at a time when they are still developing their values and attitudes and don't yet have the life experience upon which resilience is built."

Adults: Be open to questions from youth about life online

It is equally important to involve and educate parents, teachers, coaches, counsellors and other adults in the ways young people are engaging with technology, because the youth needs to be able to go to them for advice and guidance on online risk exposure, which is corroborated by research.

For SID 2019, Microsoft released a piece of research in 22 countries on teenagers and adults' exposure to 21 different online risks. According to the results, teenagers are more than ever turning to their parents and other trusted adults for help with online issues. Indeed, 42 per cent reported asking a parent for help when confronted with an online problem, an increase of 10 percentage points from the previous year. Therefore, parents and teachers need to familiarise themselves with teenagers' online activities and the risks young people may encounter online, and must be open to talking with youth, focusing on listening and suspending judgement.

For more details, read the full 2019 research report by Microsoft.

Microsoft's Council for Digital Good champions SID 2019

In the United States, the members of Microsoft's inaugural Council for Digital Good, made up of 15 teenagers, raised awareness among their peers and younger children on Safer Internet Day 2019, with several participants holding workshops and after-school activities about embracing digital civility and staying safe online.

Erin, from Michigan, hosted an event gathering 150 9- to 12-year-olds who committed to safer online habits and practices. Bronte, from Ohio, reached out to fellow high school students, asking them what their ideal internet would look like, and suggesting they sign a "pledge for a safer internet". Indigo, from California, led 50 fourth- and fifth-graders in games and activities that she created herself to instil good online behaviours.

Safer Internet Day 2019 may be in the rearview mirror, but there is still time to commit to putting our best digital foot forward by taking the Digital Civility Challenge and committing to its four ideals. It is not too late to share your pledge on social media. Use the hashtags #Challenge4Civility and #Im4DigitalCivility.

For other information about online safety, view this article on the Microsoft blog, and visit the Microsoft Online Safety website and resources page. For more regular news and information, connect with Microsoft Online Safety on Facebook and Twitter, and view Microsoft's Safer Internet Day Supporter page.

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  • Awareness
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