Looking back on the June 2019 Insafe Training Meeting

  • Awareness
  • 02/07/2019
  • Portuguese Safer Internet Centre

The Portuguese Safer Internet Centre (SIC) participated in the latest Insafe Training Meeting, held in Crete, Greece, from Wednesday, 12 to Friday, 14 June 2019.

The Insafe Training Meetings (TM) are special and important moments of work that occur twice a year and that are planned in cooperation between the SIC of the country that hosts the event with the Insafe Coordination Team. The TM sets the right context to debate actual trends related to the safe and responsible use of the internet, allowing both sharing of experience and exchange of best practice. The central theme of this event focused on vulnerable users and the potentials risks they can encounter online, including hate speech.

Gaming and screen time were other themes approached in one of the main sessions.  Andy Przybylski (researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute) and Kakia Nicolaou (consultant psychiatrist and Head of the Addictions' Department "IANOS" at the Psychiatric Hospital of Thessaloniki) were invited to share their insights with the participants.

This session gave the network an opportunity to explore different approaches about the time that children and adolescents spend on interactive digital media (including videogames, media and smartphones) and the potential impact these may have on their psychological and physical health.

The session also provided important information about different theoretical approaches used in academic studies. Even though there are differences, this session offered a moment to reflect on the studies on screen time and how their results should be used carefully. Indeed, these are, in most cases, very diverse, many times pointing in non-consensual directions.

It was recommended to take into account the context in which those conclusions occur, as well as the methodological framework and the number of participants in order to evaluate if these data can be generalised or not. For instance, the results of a study that uses a very small number of participants can hardly be considered as a trend.

The conclusions of studies that do not use the same methodological framework should not be compared. In addition, establishing a estimate of the time children spend online ought to be done using the same methodological framework in different studies, in order to allow for a comparison of conclusions.

Natasha Devon, another invited speaker, shared some of her personal and professional experience about vulnerable groups and focused on the impacts that the media can have on body image. She identified as vulnerable groups – and more likely to develop mental health problems –  people that have low self-esteem related to body image issues, LGBTQI+ people, first-generation immigrants, and people with special educational needs. In her presentation, she also brushed upon the differences between feminine and masculine gender stereotypes and the factors that contribute to define gender (which go beyond the physiological aspect). At the end of this session, participants agreed that this is a controversial theme which raises important questions about integration and acceptance of people that do not fit into the regular pattern.

The open space technology is one of the most interesting and participative moments of the TM. The format allows for interaction between the participants of the different SICs and provides the space and the opportunity to learn about new resources, methodologies and work instruments. This space can also be used to test new resources and to have feedback from other professional who work in the same areas, allowing sharing their work.

There was also space to reflect conjointly about the work specifically developed by the awareness centres, the helplines and the youth coordinators. Issues such as cyberviolence against women and girls and the challenges that they mostly frequently encounter online were some of the themes brought up and discussed.

To finish, the Portuguese SIC would like to acknowledge the importance of these meetings. These are an important work basis allowing for sharing of best practices among SICs, and for aligning the network with the strategic orientations of a safe and responsible use of the internet, no matter the language we speak, or the country, or the context we are living in.

Find out more information about the work of the Portuguese Safer Internet Centre (SIC) generally, including its awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services, or find similar information for Safer Internet Centres throughout Europe.

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