Developing an online media platform for Bulgarian youth
- Bulgarian Safer Internet Centre
Involving young people in online content creation is a great way to develop their digital and media skills, while also minimising exposure to online risks and promoting positive and responsible online behaviour.
- to empower young people to express their opinions and positions, and champion digital citizenship and digital creativity.
- to give the young people an opportunity to develop their digital and media skills (according to the DigComp Framework) in practice (as positive content creation skills, information assessment skills, communication skills, and so on), while also taking advantage of the opportunities the digital environment offers.
- to prevent online risks through the development of digital and media literacy skills, and foster positive and responsible internet use as an alternative to risky or harmful behaviour online.
- Create a youth content creation team
In the Bulgarian example, the core content creation team was recruited from existing members of the Bulgarian SIC's youth panel (youth board). In Bulgaria, the youth panel is a voluntary structure, which has existed as a successful form of youth participation since 2010. Its members are young people aged 14-18 who meet regularly face-to-face (at least once per month) to develop their digital and media skills. They also play an important role in other initiatives and events organised by the Bulgarian SIC and its partners.
If there is already an established youth panel, it is reasonable to recruit members of the content creation team from its members: they are already a team involved in child participation activities and have experience of raising awareness among their peers. If not, it is also possible to recruit young volunteers specifically for a content creation/editorial team, perhaps using the existing information channels used to reach out to young people.
- Provide a youth online media platform
Although creating a brand new online platform is a possibility, the Bulgarian SIC chose to use existing opportunities in the country. Hence, it entered into a partnership with Mrs Evelina Pavlova, a famous Bulgarian radio and TV journalist, who had created an online media platform called Teen Station where teenagers upload content created by them for a teenage audience. It was agreed that the members of the Bulgarian SIC's youth panel can have their own section on this online platform where they can upload content on the topic of digital and media literacy for young people. Alongside this opportunity, they can also create content on other topics or initiatives which interest them, as well as expressing their opinions on a range of other issues (including politics and strategies) and participating in topical debates concerning youth.
- Train young people on media content creation
In order to support young people in the task of creating high-quality online content, the Bulgarian SIC, along with Pavlova's The Voice of Children Foundation, plan to provide several trainings on media content creation. The young people will be trained by professional journalists and online safety experts. They have already participated in an introduction training on components of digital and media literacy (according to the DigComp framework) and the basic principles of journalism (for example, "the five W-s") provided by an expert from the Bulgarian SIC.
- Facilitate youth media content creation
Members of the Bulgarian SIC's youth panel, in their role of an editorial team, will create online media content regularly, uploading articles, videos and radio content which they have created. They will also promote the youth online media platform to peers, and recruit other young people who would like to create content too. The professionals who will have provided trainings will continue to support the youngsters as mentors.
- Recruiting young people who would like to create content – they could be recruited from existing youth panels or from the general teenage audience through the organisation's existing communication channels (including social media), or possibly through schools which the organisation has previously worked with.
- Along with safer internet experts, media professionals should be recruited to provide training on media content creation. Ideally, they would be "media celebrities" who are known by the young people. A proper methodology should be developed for the trainings, in collaboration with these professionals.
- An online platform should be provided. An organisation could create a brand new website for this purpose, or negotiate a partnership with existing online media, as in the case of the Bulgarian SIC.
- Ideally, trainers should continue to provide advice and support to the young people after the initial trainings, in a mentor role. This can be very motivational for the teenagers involved.
- BIK Youth
Peer-to-peer education is a great way to educate others about staying safe online. As part of the UK Safer Internet Centre, Childnet has created a Digital Leaders Programme for primary and secondary schools. The aim of the programme is to train up young people to become "qualified" Digital Leaders in order for them to educate others in their community about staying safe online.