Insafe network meets to discuss vulnerable groups online

Today, the Insafe network of European Safer Internet Centres (SICs) begins a two-day training meeting in Heraklion, Greece. The meeting aims to facilitate experience and good-practice sharing across the network on a range of topical online safety issues, while continuing to enhance the collaborative learning community that has developed within the network.

A key focus for this meeting will be on vulnerable groups and the potential risks they may encounter online, including hate speech. Natasha Devon MBE will explore how social media impacts body image, plays into the dangerous cult of perfectionism, and shapes ideas around crucial issues like gender and sexuality, from the perspective of those with mental health issues, low body image, boys and young men, and LGBTQI+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex +) people. This session will be followed by two workshops, the first one on the challenges and opportunities for LGBTIQ+ youth in the digital world, and the second one focusing on online hate speech and the SELMA (Social and Emotional Learning for Mutual Awareness) project.

The meeting will also provide opportunities to discuss gaming and screentime in a keynote speech delivered by Andy Przybylski from the Oxford Internet Institute and Kakia Nicolaou from the Psychiatric Hospital of Thessaloniki. Indeed, the idea that the time young people devote to interactive digital media – including video games, social media and smartphones – significantly impacts their psychological and physical health has attracted a lot of attention and triggered much debate. Drawing upon academic studies, this session will allow the network to collectively reflect on this issue.

In addition, other key themes will be discussed, such as cyber-violence against women and girls, online challenges, as well as planning for Safer Internet Day (SID) 2020. Once again, Open Space Technology will be used during the meeting as a method of encouraging interaction and debate.

Karl Hopwood, Online Safety Expert and Helpline Coordinator, said: "We are pleased to be welcoming all of the Safer Internet Centres around Europe to this biannual training meeting. The centres are constantly working with children and young people, as well as their parents and teachers, in a rapidly changing world. There are always new apps and platforms to be aware of, new games that become popular as well as new research which challenges previously held views; these training meetings provide an opportunity for SICs to discuss the latest issues, as well as sharing best practice, ideas and resources. The focus on vulnerable groups is timely with a lot of media attention highlighting the specific challenges that some groups face when they go online. Once again, the Open Space Technology sessions will address a wide range of different issues including the impact that digital media use can have on climate change and how to discuss difficult topics with younger users."

Visit the Better Internet for Kids portal at www.betterinternetforkids.eu to discover more about the work of the Insafe network of Safer Internet Centres and wider stakeholders in the field, and subscribe to the quarterly Better Internet for Kids (BIK) bulletin for news and resources on the latest trends and challenges in online life. Additionally, find out more about the ongoing #SaferInternet4EU campaign, delivering a range of initiatives throughout 2018 and 2019 to help children, young people, parents, teachers, and other EU citizens to become empowered and responsible digital users.

Learn more about the work of the Greek Safer Internet Centre, including its awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services, or find similar information for Safer Internet Centres throughout Europe.


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