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.