Ethical principles

Nowadays, it is very easy to access and provide content and that is truly exciting to bring people closer and to get to know varied knowledge. However, we know that this reality raises concerns about the potential inappropriate use of this knowledge by population groups with less critical capacity and / or selection of content adapted to their interests.

When I was surfing on a Portuguese TV cable provider website I found an interesting document called Principles for the Safer Use of Connected Devices and Online Services by Children and Young People in the EU. It contains a range of principles designed to improve online safety for children and young people and it was created by several organizations from all over Europe.

This document ensures that signatories follow those principles and they are also pleasant to take individual initiatives to promote them.

There are seven main subjects set in the report. Within each subject there are several key principles. I decided to select a few principles of the two first subjects.

1. Content

Signatories should:

· Indicate clearly where a service they offer may include content considered not to be appropriate for children and display prominently options which are available to control access to the content. This could include, where appropriate for the service, tools to manage access to certain content, advice to users or a recognized system of content labelling.

· Display prominently and in an easily accessible location the Acceptable Use Policy, which should be written in  easily-understandable language.

· State clearly any relevant terms of service or community guidelines (i.e. how users are expected to behave and what is not acceptable) with which user generated content must comply.

· Ensure that reporting options are in the relevant areas of the service.

· Provide notice about the consequences for users if they post content which violates terms of service or community guidelines.

· Continue work to provide innovative solutions able to support child safety protection tools and solutions.

2. Parental controls

Signatories should, as relevant for their products or services, assist parents to limit their children’s exposure to potentially inappropriate content and contact. It is recognised that parental controls have limitations and cannot replace parents’ engagement in their children’s online use. Measures that are available or appropriate to each service/product will vary, but may include:

· Manufacturers seeking to optimise hardware design to provide products which simply and clearly help parents to set appropriate levels of control on devices.

· Network providers seeking to provide necessary tools and settings across their services to enable parents to set appropriate levels of control

· Service and content providers making available the necessary tools and settings across their services to enable parents to set appropriate levels of control.

In my opinion, it is important to know the correct and most ethical way to use online services to ensure that our experiences in today’s digital world are more responsible and enriching.

If you want to access the original document, just click here.

Meet Áine Curtin, new Irish Youth Panellist

The Safer Internet Ireland Internet Advisory Panel, which is made up of young people across the country, has seen many members come and go during its existence.

In recent weeks, after the issue of cyberbullying was thrust into the national media spotlight here in Ireland,  a new member was welcomed into the fold. Her effort was commended with a national newspaper coverage in one of Ireland’s largest daily newspapers, The Irish Examiner.

Here’s how Aine Curtin, from Cork, became our latest panel member as reported in the Irish Examiner.

‘Student added to panel after newspaper letter – By Sean O’Riordan, Wednesday, November 07, 2012 on the Irish Examiner

A fourth-year student from a second-level school in Co Cork has been appointed to a national advisory panel looking at safeguards to protect against cyberbullying after she wrote a letter on the subject to the Irish Examiner.

Áine Curtin, a pupil at Boherbue Comprehensive School, was invited to take part in the Safer Internet Ireland Youth Advisory Panel meetings in Dublin. She has already participated in one of its meetings with nine other youth panel members.

In her letter on 23 October , which was prompted by the suicide in late September of Leitrim cyberbullying victim Ciara Pugsley, Áine expressed her “disappointment” with the Government response to the issue and wanted to alert ministers to the lack of guidelines for the prevention of cyberbullying.

She stressed that the last set of guidelines on bullying published by the Government dated back to 1993.

“As a teenager and frequent internet user, I don’t think this is good enough,” she wrote.

Áine also pointed to the death by suicide of Canadian teenager Amanda Todd, also a victim of cyberbullying on 10 October.

“Obviously the Government thinks this isn’t a serious enough issue for them to be bothered with,” she wrote. “They have enough time to take money from our children and make cutback after cutback, but do nothing to save young people’s lives.”

Áine stressed that, in 1993, when current anti-bullying guidelines were drawn up, the internet was only accessed by a handful of users compared to today.

“Teenagers spend hours every single day checking their friends’ status on Facebook and yet there are no set guidelines if they are being attacked,” Áine wrote.

She wrote the letter after her English teacher, Patrick Hickey, encouraged her and classmates to investigate cyberbullying further. During the mid-term, Áine travelled to Dublin for the first Safer panel meeting, where fellow students discussed both the positive and negative impact of the social media, as well as its future development.

She will attend a further meeting shortly and hopes the teenagers can help create a credible and useful policy to tackle the problem.

Aine is a great addition to our youth advisory panel and we look forward to having her continue in the role in the meetings ahead of Safer Internet Day 2013.’

@Safer Internet Forum by Sarah Defant

In October 2012, I had the great opportunity to represent my country (Austria), at the Safer Internet Forum, in Brussels.

During the first two days, before the Forum, we had some discussions about different topics like the myths of the web. The information we collected there was thought to help us during the Forum where we got the opportunity to discuss and exchange ideas with people working in multinational companies like Facebook, YouTube, Google as well as with other professionals who work for the world wide web and, of course, with our teachers and parents.

During these discussions, we had a lot of work to do, but it was also a lot of fun. We focused on age ratings for movies and games and their consequences as well as on how to motivate young people to be creative online including in the social networks!

In order to have a variety of activities, we also had some outdoor activities, where two coaches prepared all different kind of games. It was really funny (and we won almost every game! In the evenings, after dinner we were able to see a small part of the city and we could even do some shopping.

I really appreciated that, at the Forum, you could feel that people really cared about what the youth thinks about the topics which had been discussed.

During one of the sessions, we had the chance to speak in front of all participants in the panel about the myths of the web. I decided to be one of the panellists and I don’t regret it at all. We were able to discuss with Melina Violari, who works for Facebook about privacy settings and Facebook in general. For me, this was a great opportunity and I really enjoyed it.

Furthermore, I really liked learning what adults think about the youth and their use of the web. But actually, I could not agree with everything that was mentioned.

One of the things I liked the most about the Forum was the possibility to make new friends from all over Europe. I really had a great time with those guys and I miss them quite a lot.

For my mum, who is not quite an internet pro, the days in Brussels where quite interesting as she was able to learn a lot of new things. For her, it was really interesting (but unusual as well) to only talk about the internet, and how to make it a safer place for future generations, for four days with other parents and teachers. I think she quite enjoyed the Forum.

All in all, I want to say thanks to the people who made it possible for me to go there and of course to those people who made these days so unforgettable.

The forum was in the ‘City of Chocolate’. What else to say? It HAD to be awesome! :)