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"Flip the consultation", a dialogue led by youth at Safer Internet Forum 2019

On Thursday, 21 November 2019, the Safer Internet Forum (SIF) took place in Brussels, Belgium. With a theme of "From online violence to digital respect", it also celebrated 20 years of safer/better internet funding by the European Commission. Below, read the summary of the "flipped consultation" the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) Youth Panel 2019 held.

In line with the theme of the day - "From online violence to digital respect" - the BIK Youth Panel began their session with a striking "slur word performance" and a theatre play about scenarios Insafe helplines encounter. After this performance, the panellists welcome the participants and introduced the group, comprising of 26 young people from 20 countries across Europe. They kicked off with an interactive session with table discussions around the room, each led by a youth panellist.

After these discussion, each youth panellist reported back in plenary on their chosen theme and the discussions that took place at their respective tables. Key topics and issues included:

  • Self-harm content – we have to distinguish harmful from violent content.
  • Doxxing – we have to realise that online and offline are part of the same world.
  • Sexting – education is key.
  • Cyberbullying – this phenomenon should be seen from all perspectives and tackled at all ages.
  • Identity theft – to prevent identity theft, you should not reveal too much information online.
  • Online sexual harassment of youth – we should listen to each other. Education is key, even for adults, in order to empower them to talk to young people in the right way.
  • Identity theft – don't be lazy; be careful with your data!
  • Cyberstalking – this problem is unavoidable, but users can take precautions when sharing their personal data.
  • Peer pressure – talk about it and open up, use hashtags, create solidarity.
  • Cyberbullying – victims need help, but so do the bullies. Boost young people's self-confidence at school to open avenues for talking about it. Prevention efforts are needed through education and Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), and social media platforms need to be more pro-active.
  • Online violence in video games – teach players how to be careful during bans.
  • Online harassment on social media – everything starts with education.
  • Trolling and anonymity – anonymity makes everything easier; it has good and bad aspects.
  • Hate speech and hate crimes – it has real consequences offline and should be treated as such. It is an intersectional issue that needs government solutions.
  • Harassment – government solutions are needed.
  • Private content – be careful when posting online.
  • Fake profiles – distinguish between harmful and helpful fake profiles.
  • Representation in the game industry – more diversity is needed in games and among game developers.
  • Nude photos – educate children on what to do about it at an early age, teach them how the community can help them, and be clear about the possible consequences.
  • Sexting – it is not violence in itself, but we need increased education about its various forms, and we need to address parents as well.
  • Hidden marketing – we need to create awareness and better guidelines for apps.

 

Mosaic of BIK Youth Panellists at the Safer Internet Forum 2019

 

After this, Frida called upon all stakeholders present in the room to take responsibility for keeping children and young people safe online. She underlined the importance of building a community, and having open ears for those that are targeted by online violence in any form.

The youth panellists then presented their Instagram account, BIK.YouthforYouth, and examples of what they have been doing during five weeks of preparatory meetings preceding the SIF. When asked by a member of the audience whether they are on other social media platforms, they replied that the campaign was carried out only on Instagram, but that the BIK Youth Panel is also carrying out a take-over of the @BIK_Youth Twitter account on the day of the SIF. They were then asked at what age they think education should start; in which form they experienced that; what works and what can be done better. One of them replied that educating adults is key, so that they can educate children adequately regarding online risks. As such, education efforts should start as soon as kindergarten, if possible.

 

Image of a slide from the BIK Youth Panel 2019 presentation at Safer Internet Forum 2019

 

Another question from the audience related to the reasons why some people do not feel comfortable talking to their parents, and what parents can do better. A youth panellist replied that everyone's parents are busy, so they might feel like they are wasting their time. Also, young people often feel like their parents will not be able to help them with problems encountered online so, once again, educating parents is key. Moreover, some issues online can also be very personal. They explained this miscommunication with parents by the fact that the internet became mainstream not so long ago and, as a consequence, they are the first or second generation to face these brand new issues. Their parents have not and, as such, they cannot relate to their problems, and generally go for the easy solution: they advise their children not to use the internet altogether.

Another question from the audience related to what the young people would miss most if they lost their phone. Among the replies given by the young people were the ability to communicate with parents, grandparents and friends; keeping up to date with schoolwork; and developing their creativity and sharing their work with others.

Another member of the audience asked them whether they would find awareness-raising videos for adults about specific issues encountered by young people online interesting. The youth panellists replied that it would be, as it takes away the personal side which can be embarrassing. They also suggested giving parents tips on how to talk about common issues, so that they can start the conversations. Parents have to realise that it is their problem too, even if they themselves did not grow up in the digital age.

After receiving many congratulations from the audience, the youth panellists thanked the attendees. Karl Hopwood thanked them and invited them on stage, highlighting the importance of involving young people in the discussions around their own online safety.

For more information about the Safer Internet Forum 2019 "From online violence to digital respect", you can read the full report on betterinternetforkids.eu and visit betterinternetforkids.eu/sif2019.

  • Type: Awareness
  • Date:16/12/2019
  • Author:BIK Team