Positive Online Content - what do young people think?

Children nowadays become exposed to digital technologies and the internet at increasingly younger ages. As a teenager or even among tweens, not having a smartphone or not participating on social media platforms could mark a person as the ‘the odd one'. So intertwined into their lives, these technologies allow them to access a virtually limitless amount of content on the internet and great opportunities for communication and self-expression. More importantly, the content they interact with greatly affects their social, emotional and psychological development, reason for which the Positive Online Content Campaign aims to raise awareness about the importance of positive online content for children, to foster a discussion with youth, parents and teachers to make them aware about the state of positive online content for children in their country, and to encourage a discussion with industry and content producers and providers to encourage the production of more positive online content for children .

As the campaign goals indicate, there are two important aspects of the Positive Online Content Awareness Month, namely the provision of more high-quality online content for children and raising awareness among all concerned stakeholders, among which young people and children play an important role. To this end, we interviewed some of the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) Youth Ambassadors to learn about their take on positive online content. Afterall, the goal is to shape the internet to their benefit, and therefore, their opinions matter the most!

When asked them what positive online content means to them and they covered all aspects of it thoroughly, from the content quality and richness, to the knowledge relayed, from the user experience to the real-life effects and outcomes. Aside from providing knowledge, positive content on the internet should be fun and engaging. Beyond merely learning, they should also encourage positive behavior and habits while encouraging positive outcomes such as maturity and digital literacy. As Lorcan, our Youth Ambassador from Ireland, has mentioned, these materials should also have a purpose such as supporting learning, raising awareness or developing resilience. Catarina, our Youth Ambassador from Portugal pointed out the developmental aspects by saying that positive online content should "give us inspiration, make us understand the world we live in, and make us understand and improve ourselves".

The importance of serving positive content to children and the young people online is undisputable. As to why it is so important, Joao, Youth Ambassador from Portugal explains that "young people spend a significant amount of their day online. Most of this time it is unsupervised and directly impacts their offline/real life. If young people access positive content, it is more likely that their actions elsewhere throughout the day will reflect good intentions." Other BIK Youth Ambassadors also pointed out how the quality of online content can impact the personal development of the young generation, empower them and improve important skills such as critical thinking. 

In discussing how online content can be positive, the Youth Ambassadors immediately focused on the impact it has on the young users; first and foremost, it has to be safe, and beyond that, it should "trigger curiosity and inspiration, making the user feel that it was worth his/her time and data" says Joao. The educational aspect of it is equally important: Hadia, our BIK Youth Ambassador from the UK, gave the example of a TV series broadcast on a popular online platform, in which educational values were communicated to the viewers, and as such, it positively impacted her sisters who loved to watch it.

The Positve Online Content mini-site provides a wealth of examples of what constitues positive online content for children aged 0-12 years old, available in a wide array of languages. 

If you would like to get more articles, tips and information about positive online content, be sure to subscribe to the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) bulletin, to be released on Monday, 30 September 2019. This edition will place a further spotlight on this topic as the Positive Online Content Awareness Month draws to a close.

To discover more about the POCC campaign, follow the #PositiveContent and #BetterDigitalChildhood hashtags on social media, keep an eye on the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) portal and Positive Online Content mini-site, and show the world you stand for positive online content for children by adding a Twibbon to your social media profiles!

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