‘My experience at the Safer Internet Forum 2012’ by Iva Miteva

This year, the Safer Internet Forum took place in Brussels. It was a great pleasure to attend this event for the second time. But this time, I assisted one of the moderators in educating young people about internet safety. Before the Safe Internet Forum began, we had to prepare for this big event. The Insafe team organised the Pan-EU Youth Panel networking challenge. What does the networking challenge mean? The young people had to compete in different games in order to reach the first place. So it was very nice to see people, who haven’t known each other before, becoming closer. Although there was only one winner, I think that all of them had great fun and got to know each other. At the end of this day (16 October), we had a session called “The impact of technology on young people and society – Exploding the myths”. The young people had to work in groups searching for myths that are common for the youth. The group in which I worked came to the conclusion that most important myths for them are: ‘Online reputation’, ‘Privacy’ and ‘The digital world is not the real world’.

The next day (17 October), we were quite busy and had to do a lot of things. In the morning, my work was in the creative laboratory in European Schoolnet’s building. We were amazed by the technology and everyone felt like they were in a ‘digital Disneyland’.

We had the great opportunity to work with gadgets in order to make a movie about our selected topic – online reputation. It was great fun and the whole group worked as a team. At the end, we had a result – a short movie that presented the opinions of the young people about online reputation.

In the afternoon, we had an outdoor activity at Parc du Cinquantennaire (Jubelpark), in Brussels. The panellists were divided in four teams and had to play different games. The games were not only for fun, but also for thinking and creativity.

After that, we had the last session of the day – “Get the best out of the web, leave the bad behind”.
It was about online content and how to motivate young people not only to be consumers of the internet, but also to give something to it – like using their imagination to create blogs, etc.

At the end of this busy day, everyone was prepared for the next day: the opening of the Safer Internet Forum 2012.

The young people had the chance not only to meet a lot of people who are engaged in the issue – internet safety- and people from the industry, but also to talk with them about their concerns regarding internet safety. This happened in the World Café discussions. All panellists were very active and learned also something new for them from the professionals. We spent the rest of the day in sessions such as “Creativity and critical thinking – the essential pillars”, “Coping strategies – how can content classification and parental controls contribute”, ‘Parental control” and “Stimulating positive online experience and behaviour”. In these sessions, we discussed the risks that we are facing every day online, what kind of restrictions can we impose in order that the internet becomes a better place. Should parents have more control over the activities of their children or do they have to give them more trust? Who has the main responsibility for the children’s online behaviour? We voted several times about certain questions and then we had a very active debate about the results of our voting. In my opinion, this day was full of new useful information that enriches everyone’s knowledge about internet safety. The last day of the Safer Internet Forum (19 October) was a summary of what was discussed through the whole event. The panellists received participation certificates at the end of the forum. We had to say goodbye, but it was difficult for us, because thanks to this experience, we became not only a team, but also friends who share the same concern about the risks of the digital world.

In conclusion, I’d like to say that it was a great event at which I had the opportunity to attend. I met new and interesting people, I became better informmed  about the point of view of young people, parents, industry and people engaged in internet safety, and I went home satisfied that we made people aware of what they do online and the consequences of their online activities.

EU launches contest for young Europeans to attend Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony

Today, the European Union has launched a writing and drawing contest which will allow four young Europeans to attend the official Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony, in Norway!

You might already know that, this year, the Nobel Prize Committee has awarded the European Union and its 500 million inhabitants the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize. The European Union has promoted peace and human rights in Europe since its beginning.  Thanks to the European Union, we now live in a continent at peace.

So: ‘What does peace in Europe mean to you?’  Answer this question and you might one of the four lucky winners assisting the ceremony!

You just need to send your drawing  (if you are between 8 and 12) or short text of maximum 120 characters (if you are between 13 and 24) by 25 November 2012.

Find out more details about the contest  here.

Pan-EU Youth ambassadors participate in colloquium at ENS Cachan

On 9 November 2012, the Pan-Eu Youth ambassadors  Luboš Perniš, Luboš Ondráčková, João Pedro, Iva Miteva and Ioanna Karkani participated in the “Transliteracies: issues of citizenship and creativity” colloquium, which was organised at ENS Cachan (near Paris) by STEF (ENS Cachan-IFE) and CREW (Sorbonne nouvelle-Paris 3). The participation of these five youth panellists was made possible by the kind support of Vivendi.

Before the beginning of the conference, Eric Bruillard, director of STEF (Sciences Techniques Education Formation), showed the STEF Research Lab to the young participants. There, the Insafe youth panellists learned more about several on-going research projects on the crossroads of technology and education, such as Castor Informatique, an international contest which aims to increase insight in young people’s ICT literacy. Afterwards, the Youth Panellists talked in more detail about their offline and online media habits and preferences with several members of the STEF team.

The actual conference started in the early afternoon, with academic presentations from two pioneers in the so-called transliteracy movement: Professor Sue Thomas (De Montfort Univeristy, UK) and Professor Alan Liu (UC Santa Barbara, US-CA). As explained by Sue Thomas, transliteracy is “the ability to read, write and interact across a wide range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks.” In her presentation, she also introduced her newest book, with the thought-provoking title “Technobiophilia: nature and cyberspace”. Alan Liu followed a somewhat more philosophical path, and shared his ideas on how the book will look like in a digital future. He also shared some examples of recent digital projects – including the RoSe (Research-oriented Social Environment) at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

In the second half of the colloquium, Insafe youth panellists were given the floor to share and discuss their views on how young people’s daily media experiences are nowadays changing. Firstly, Luboš and Tereza each introduced one of their online projects, Teen IT.sk and Kybersikana.eu. More detailed information about some other youth ambassadors’ online activities was shared in advance on the conference website. As turned out, the academic audience had plenty of questions to ask about the young people’s perspectives on online risks and opportunities. As always, our youth panellists were fully competent in showing that young people themselves have quite an elaborate view on on-going digital and technological developments. The afternoon session closed with a presentation by Marlene Scardamalia (University of Toronto) who talked about the co-construction of knowledge.

To conclude, the youth participants were very grateful to Vivendi for the opportunity to participate in the colloquium. For them, it was an interesting first encounter with the academic world. Even if some of the academic presentations were a bit long and complex, all youth panellists were still able to pick out some key ideas which were relevant for them. The conference was very successful in bridging part of the gap between academic theory, on one hand, and young people’s daily digital experiences, on the other.

Internet Governance Forum 2012 launches

Today, 5th November, the 2012 Internet Governance Forum (IGF) will kick off with some pre-launch events before it gets into full swing from Tuesday 6th to Friday 9th November.

In a session on Wednesday 7th, the spotlight will once again be focussed on the activities of Insafe’s youth panels in all 30 member countries of the network, and also on those of the Insafe’s youth ambassadors.  The Youth Ambassador team, supported by Vivendi and comprising 12-18 year olds from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Greece, Slovakia  and Portugal, will also be busy promoting the work of Insafe this week. Six of the young people will travel to Cachan, a university town near Paris, to analyse with international researchers the skills young people need to succeed in the today’s linked up world, and just how and where they develop these skill. Further information regarding the program is available here.

Watch this space to learn more of the issues being raised in these two debates.