Murat (17) is a member of the Austrian Youth Panel and he took part at the 3rd Pan-EU Youth Panel and Safer Internet Forum in October 2011 in Luxembourg. After the event we asked Murat to share his impressions with us:
“The four days in Luxembourg were just great! I got to practice my English a little bit, but the best thing was that I met many nice young people of my age from different countries! During those four days we exchanged a lot of ideas about safe use of the internet and mobile phones; I also heard the opinions of parents, politicians and internet pros. Some ideas were really interesting but there were also some that I did not like at all! For example I noticed that some parents thought that the best thing they could do about their kid´s online safety was to spy on them! In my opinion, youngsters are not robots and therefore you should not be trying to solve the problem by installing spying software on their mobile phones! Instead of that parents would be better off taking the time to discuss online safety with their children.
We, the youngsters, were interested in topics like the illegal downloading of songs and videos from the internet, and we also focused in our discussions on sexting. What was particularly interesting for me was the power of your own voice on the internet and how you can make a difference. Think about the revolutions in the Middle East – it all began when an Egyptian woman was arrested because she spoke her mind about politics on the internet. I had several opportunities to share my ideas with the forum and speak from the speaker´s desk – I felt like a real politician then !
Last but not least, I would like to send my regards to all the buddies I met on the forum!”
At the end of October, concretely from 18th till 21st, I and my friend Monika spent some time in Luxembourg. We left the Czech Republic on an early morning Tuesday the 18th. The flight was great. At the airport in Luxembourg they were already waiting for us. We joined the group of other youngsters and then moved to Youth Hostel in the heart of Luxembourg.
The first activity, we did all together, was a game afternoon. I found it really funny. We competed against each other and got acquainted. We had great fun. After the session we split into several groups and discussed different aspects of safer internet and online responsibility and created posters dedicated to our opinions and ideas. The posters were presented in Safer Internet Forum on Thursday and Friday. Ours was called BE NICE and informed about online responsibility.
The next day we started in our group playing a game and then the walking lunch followed. We had a map with some tasks to do and GPS to help us to find the restaurant where the lunch was served. It was a great opportunity to explore the centre of the city. After half day spent outside we went back to the hostel. In the evening we were divided into several groups where we spoke about the programme of Safer Internet Forum and our sessions.
On Thursday we moved to Jean Monet Building for the whole day. The programme started with a plenary session joined by the European Commissioner. She answered some of our questions. In the afternoon, after the lunch I had a workshop. We worked with iPads and iPods. The task was to create a video dedicated to safer internet. We made a video about a boy who was bullied by his classmates. They filmed the attack and posted it on Facebook. It was inspired by our own video which I and Monika filmed in Czech for our peer preventive programme.
The next day Safer Internet Forum continued. We were little bit busy, because it was also the day of leaving for all of us. I was part of a session that discussed positive children’s online content. There were participants of Best Children’s Online Content European Award. I and my friend Monika run a website about cyberbullying, so we had the opportunity to present our own web and be part of the discussion. We also met Sonia Livingstone who organizes really interesting research about children’s online safety.
I have to say that Safer Internet Forum was a wonderful experience for me. To be honest I had really wonderful time and was so sad I had to leave. I could get in touch with youngsters from all the European countries and learn some new things about internet safety. I hope I will have the opportunity to experience something like this again.