Positive Online Content Awareness Month
Positive Online Content Campaign - 2017 edition
Who is it for?
The Positive Online Content Campaign (POCC) is far-reaching in its scope, aiming to involve multiple stakeholders in providing better online experiences for children through high-quality digital content.
There are various ways in which the different stakeholders can both get involved and benefit from the campaign. With a view to obtaining a better shaped and targeted campaign, the generic tagline "Positive online content: better experiences for children" has been devised, and is further tailored to each of the following key stakeholder groups:
Children (up to 12 years of age): "Positive online content: better experiences for you!"
Children have the right to enjoy the best possible online experiences the internet can provide. Especially at a young and impressionable age, one single, well-made game, website or app can potentially change a young person's life. If certain basic criteria are fulfilled, online content and services can enable children, from the earliest of ages, to learn, develop and express themselves, and overall have fun in a safe online space, in which they are free to participate without risk of harm.
More generally, we believe that children's digital literacy skills should be developed from an early age in order to allow them to assess the content they find online critically, while in turn protecting them from future online risks such as grooming, cyberbullying, sextortion, revenge porn or simply if encountering inappropriate content while surfing the web. By exposing young children to high quality online content from their very first online experiences, they can learn how to recognise the basic components of appropriate and positive content and services.
Parents and carers: "Positive online content: better experiences for your children"
Parents want what is best for their children and navigating through the sheer amount of online services and content targeted at younger users to make sure that those in their care are safe, while at the same time stimulated, informed and empowered, is no easy task. For these reasons, the Positive Online Content Campaign intends to raise awareness and inform parents and carers of what they should be looking for in an online service/app/content that is respectful of their children's needs and learning capacities.
Targeted primarily to content producers/providers, the checklist of criteria for positive online content is also a good starting point for parents. It encourages them to consider a few basic questions before choosing online content for their young ones:
- Is the online content in question empowering and suitable for my child?
- Is it engaging?
- Is it stimulating?
- Is it safe?
More importantly, we believe digital literacy is not only crucial for children! To make sure that their children can develop the necessary skills, parents and carers alike should also seek to develop their eSafety skills and awareness in order to make the best judgements concerning suitable online content. This will enable parents to act as digital role models, providing positive examples for their children right from the beginning. Positive online content can equally stimulate conversations between children and parents. By showing an interest in their children's (online) media usage and preference, parents can listen to their views, learn what they like and enjoy, what type of problems they might have, what scares them, and so on.
Children need to be monitored and seconded, which is why parents should be able to establish boundaries and guidelines for them. Parents cannot do everything, of course, but as informed consumers, digitally literate parents can play an active role, also by challenging industry, content providers and even politicians to make sure their children gain access to the best available online content.
Teachers and educators: "Positive online content: better experiences for your pupils"
Digital content is playing an increasingly significant role in children's education, from an ever-younger age. For this reason, teachers and educators should be equipped to properly and effortlessly navigate through the wide array of online content available, in order to ensure the safest, most informative and engaging experiences for their pupils. Positive online content and services have the potential to enrich lessons and any educational activities by taking advantage of children's almost innate fascination and motivation to learn through digital media.
Equally important is how teachers and educators can use their position as role models also when it comes to digital literacy. Apart from teaching children how to behave online and how to develop critical thinking skills, teachers and educators should aim to educate through personal example.
Content providers and producers: "Positive online content concepts: better experiences for your young users"
Producers and providers of digital content who design, develop and distribute online content and services targeted at children up to 12 years of age probably play the biggest role in ensuring that younger generations have access to age appropriate, safe, informative and empowering online experiences from the outset.
Through this campaign, we intend to reach out to both industry and small independent content producers/providers and to raise awareness about their responsibility when it comes to their youngest public's wellbeing.
Thanks to our revised, tailor-made checklist, content providers and producers across Europe may design, adapt and customise their products so as to contribute to raising an empowered and digitally skilled generation of active citizens.
How can that be achieved? In a nutshell, truly positive online content is age-appropriate and adapted to the target audience's capacities, it has a very clear idea of the learning outcomes and provides all the necessary tools for an easy and especially safe navigation for the child. Apart from all of the above, a positive online content prototype is also inclusive, respectful of its users' privacy, and prevents children from making in-app purchases without an adult's consent and guidance.
The Awareness Week - as it unfolded
The Positive Online Content Campaign reached its peak during the last week of September 2017, during a campaign awareness week from 25 to 29 September 2017, On this occasion, we organised a range of activities to target each of the key stakeholder groups:
- Day 1 placed a focus on children and young people with a number of our youth panellists supporting the campaign with testimonials on how positive content experiences impacted upon their early lives.
- Day 2 targeted teachers and educators with guest expert Dr Jacqueline Harding, CEO of Tomorrowschild.co.uk, placing a focus on positive online content in the classroom, and the importance of ensuring balance and empowerment for pupils.
- Day 3 focussed on parents and carers with a range of tips and tricks - adapted from the positive online content checklist - shared via social media. Martin Schmalzried, Policy officer at COFACE Families Europe, also supported the day with a video interview providing further insights for this key audience.
- Day 4 targeted content producers and providers, inviting them to join a Twitter chat to share good practices and experiences in developing tools and services aligned with positive online content concepts. This day, in particular, also enjoyed the support of the Alliance to Better Protect Minors Online, an EC-facilitated self-regulatory initiative - involving leading ICT and media companies, NGOs and UNICEF - which aims to improve the online environment for children and young people.
- Day 5 placed a focus on national positive online content initiatives, inviting all stakeholders to consult localised examples through the new campaign website, while sharing some country-specific case studies, such as an overview from the Greek Safer Internet Centre. Read our final blog article, providing an overview of national initiatives on the BIK portal.
Finally, make sure you also read the European Commission's blog article, published to coincide with the launch of the Awareness Week, Claire Bury, Deputy Director-General, Directorate-General Communications Networks, Content and Technology which outlines the importance of the campaign: "Developing digital literacy in young people from a very early age will lay the foundations for them to assess the content they find online in a critical manner. With the right tools, we can enhance their resilience to online risks and to content they may find disturbing while surfing the web. By having access to high quality content from their very first online experience, children can learn how to recognise the basic components of appropriate and trustworthy content and services."
Take a look at some of the highlights of our content provider and industry Twitter chat: