EuroDIG 2019 – YouthDIG from the perspective of a BIK Youth Ambassador - Lili

  • Youth
  • 18/07/2019
  • Lili Leisser, BIK Youth Ambassador

In June 2019, three BIK Youth Ambassadors – Lili, Haris and João – had the opportunity to attend EuroDIG 2019 and to participate in YouthDIG in the Hague, Netherlands. Below, Lili Leisser reflects on her experience.

"As part of the YouthDIG, I was allowed to participate in the Europe-wide meeting EuroDIG 2019 in The Hague, Netherlands. Besides the workshops and discussions we had in common with other youth participants, we also spent a lot of time together and got to know each other really quickly. We went out for dinner, visited a cooking school and even had a beach party! I can assure you, once you have visited this kind of event, you won't want to miss any other. This is such a great way to combine fun activities with learning opportunities and making first-hand experience.

"YouthDIG took place three days before the actual event. During these three days we, a group of 20 young people from different countries, developed our knowledge in the field of internet governance. We had discussions with experts and organisers of the EuroDIG and could learn from them. One of our tasks was to define youth messages. We had already honed the topics we wanted to include in some webinars before.

"At the EuroDIG itself, we were able to participate in various workshops. One of them, in which I was also allowed to participate actively, was the "Children's rights in digital age" workshop. Together with experts, three of us (Haris, João and myself) were able to take part in the discussion and express our opinions, wishes or concerns. Very quickly we all agreed that most children do not have a great idea of their rights on the internet. What is that connected to? Adults who want to teach children about the internet, its risks and opportunities, are sometimes unaware of their own biases and mistakes. And existing youth participation forums are not always taken as seriously as they should be by policy makers and other stakeholders.

"It is incredibly important that children and young people are encouraged to stand up and decide for themselves about their future. At the moment we have policy makers who see smartphones or the internet as more of a threat than an opportunity. We, young people, know the internet in a completely different way.  We switch on a new smartphone and know how to use it right away, don't we? We spend several hours every day on social networks and socialise with people from all over the world.  And because we know all of that, it is important for us to have the courage to stand up and get involved with passion in this field.

"We all know them, influencers. These people who influence thousands, millions or even billions of followers every day on Instagram, YouTube or other platforms. That's exactly what we need - but different! We need young people who are willing to make a difference, take other people with them and motivate them to become active instead of showing them the latest trends and encouraging them to buy.

"The participants of the YouthDIG all agreed that youth participation needs to be strengthened even more than it has been so far. One of our messages referred to it: ‘We wish for the inclusion of teenagers through the Internet Governance youth ambassadors program in the decision making processes on local, regional and national levels. Already existing youth parliaments should be strengthened to give the leaders of tomorrow a voice today.'

"In summary: this type of event should also serve to really give young people more power to speak and not just to represent them on a stage. During this week, I met many people who taught me a lot. I am more motivated than ever to get involved!"

 

About the author

Since 2015 I have been involved in online safety issues. I started attending the Safer Internet Forum back then as a youth representative for Austria and participated in disucussion at our local Safer Internet Centre. Since then, I got even more involved and became one of the many Youth Ambassadors. I was able to develope a game about cyberbullying with which I took second place at the Safer Internet Awards. Since 2018 I have been studying law at the University of Vienna and I work at the Safer Internet Centre Austria with a focus on youth participation. 

    

 


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