European Youth Panel 2017: youth participation highlights

  • Youth
  • 07/12/2017
  • BIK Youth

The European Youth Panel (YEP) met recently. YEP, it was that time of the year again when youth representatives from across Europe came together to share their work and views on how to foster a safer and better internet for children and young people.

Drawing on valuable lessons learned from previous YEP editions (such as 2015, 2016), this time around 15 youth panellists from 13 European countries joined digital forces to make YEP 2017 a remarkable edition. Following a period of thorough preparation, with online meetings starting in September as schools headed back after the summer vacation, a peer-to-peer youth participation scenario based on a better internet principle was agreed upon. The youth panellists were keen to ensure that they identified the missing pieces in youth digital policies and practices and, through their work, sought to fill the gap for an "Online world free from bullying, racism and intolerance".

The face-to-face YEP activities started on the morning of 22 November 2017 at the Google offices in Brussels. Youth panellists worked together in different teams (supported by a privacy expert, a representative of the Austrian Safer Internet Centre and BIK Coordination Team representatives), agreeing upon a campaign strategy, logo, communication plan, scripting, filming and editing. The youth panellists considered it to be extremely important that this campaign reflected their diverse European backgrounds, and they were also keen to have the script in several European languages to help maximise the outreach at national level.

YEP activities then continued into the afternoon back at the European Schoolnet offices, working in the Future Classroom Lab. There, the youth panellists finalised their communications strategy, filmed their launch video and teaser, and started to edit it for their youth participation scenario "Together for respect". During their time together, the youth panellists also discussed current topical issues, such as fake news, and agreed upon different approaches on how they encountered fake news and the fact that many of their peers may use unreliable sources for news, not distinguishing clearly between information and misinformation. When debating digital policy aspects, youth panellists identified a series of elements which are somehow missing or which would benefit from improvement in the online services they are using, including:

  • To have more options to control your data (including the right to be forgotten).
  • To have the right to erase pictures of children that have been posted by parents.
  • To have more control (as users) over the business models that companies use for our data.
  • To have a different response from companies (perhaps some special services).
  • To step up to regain trust from users.

The following day, the youth panellists joined the annual, international Safer Internet Forum (SIF), where their "Together for Respect" campaign was launched during a high-level opening session with the European Commission and leading ICT and media company members of the EC-facilitated, self-regulated Alliance to better protect minors online. Two of the youth panellists, Henkka and Olivia, presented the campaign, whole also providing background and insight into the work of the youth panel. In doing so, they encouraged the audience to participate in the campaign by sharing stories of how they contribute to an online world free from bullying, racism and intolerance on their social media accounts, using the hashtag #TogetherForRespect.

Through this campaign, the youth panellists wanted to highlight how cyberbullying goes beyond nationality, age or gender yet, at the same time, we all need to stand together to counteract it, hence #TogetherForRespect. The main distinctive note of this campaign, and the reason why the youth panellists believe it can make a difference, is because it is something (and someone) young people can relate to, being co-created by youth.

The youth panellists have set themselves a target for disseminating their campaign in the coming months, culminating in the milestone of Safer Internet Day (SID), taking place on Tuesday, 6 February 2018, with the youth campaign aligning perfectly with the SID 2018 theme of "Create, connect and share respect: A better internet starts with you". After the Safer Internet Forum, youth panellists agreed to take their campaign back to their national youth panels, their schools and their peers, in order to spread the message and share positive stories to stand #TogetherForRespect.

Want to hear more from the youth panellists about what happened behind the scenes of YEP and SIF? Check out the European Youth Panel 2017 youth testimonials.

Missed the chance to attend Safer Internet Forum? Check out the SIF and YEP posts on Twitter and Facebook using #SIF2017, #YEP2017 and #TogetherForRespect, or visit the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) portal.


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