Top tips on making youth participation work

  • Awareness
  • 08/11/2019
  • Dutch Safer Internet Centre

Over the last few years, the Dutch Safer Internet Centre (SIC) has managed quite well to get young people to participate actively in events related to better internet issues. One of the SIC's main missions is to make youth participation self-evident for partners, and for this purpose, the SIC shares a few lessons learned on youth participation below.

  1. It's important not to think of youth participation as an event as such. A company or an organisation that decides to involve young people in their decision-making processes needs to decide in ways of using the feedback they receive from them.
  2. Young people cannot be instructed on what to say (or what not). They can prepare themselves for their intervention, but in order to be truly involved, they must be free to say what they truly want to.
  3. If you are asked to give feedback, it is always nice to find out how it was used, or why it was not used. Therefore, after you organise an event involving young participants, try to follow up with them to inform them of how their advice was used.
  4. It is helpful to know children and young people in your own inner circle that would like to participate. It may be easier to "recruit" them and they are often very willing to join. Of course, you should also gather other young people – but this way you ensure a certain minimum of participants.
  5. The Dutch SIC does not pay the members of their "Digiraad", but they do cover their travel costs and often offer them lunch, drinks or dinner. The Dutch SIC is looking for young people that are intrinsically motivated, that's why they try to pay them via other means.

As the Dutch SIC is part of an organisation where many tech-related events and projects are being organised, they try to make all colleagues communicate about the "Digiraad" with their respective partners. The goal is to ensure that young people are systematically involved in meetings on the future of technology.

In order to have enough young people, the Dutch SIC is looking to team up with a university. In many fields, students need to practice their debating and networking skills, something youth participation schemes can offer. The ideal situation in the future for the Dutch SIC would be to have someone at a university selecting students based on their topics of interest.

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

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