Benefits of working with Young People- Youth Ambassadors’s view on SIF2012

Last year in October, I was chosen by our national awareness centre in Slovakia, to take part at Safer Internet Forum 2011. I tried to do my very best during the sessions and participated very actively and in the end was elected as a Youth Ambassador, together with other 5 people. When I think about it now, it was one of biggest opportunities given to me in my life.

This year I participated at the Safer Internet Forum as well, with the difference that I participated as a Youth Ambassador. There were three of us, Ambassadors at the forum, Iva from Bulgaria, Tereza from Czech Republic and me. Our job was to help by the preparation sessions, to help panelists on the forum, to explain them the project more. I had the possibility to look at the forum from different perspective.

And I must say I loved that kind of perspective. I was so passionate about working with Panelists during the forum preparation. I enjoyed deep group discussions about myths, giving my presentation about online content, helping them by creating their own advertisement campaigns and finally by explaining to our new youth ambassadors with the cooperation of Vivendi how it works and what are we going to do.

Youth Panel T-shirt signing session

These things actually mean a strong new experience in my life. It’s unforgettable experience, which will follow me in every aspect of my life.

I hope that I helped our great session and workshop leaders, Pippa and Jeff, and the whole event, maybe just little bit, but I’d be happy with every small thing, which was helpful from my site.

Young people

I would like to write something about role of young people in all of projects like this, not just safer internet project, so

Safer Internet Forum is only one of few events inviting young people to participate. I will explain why I think Young people are not taken serious, although in some stuff they are really better. My personal opinion is that young people are taken as not enough experienced and professional to bring a value for the event. But this is wrong, completely.

This year’s SIF target group was KIDS. And Young people are closer to them. They know what works, what doesn’t make sense, they know how trust can suffer if parent uses filter and all the things about industry, parents, awareness centers are talking all the time. Young people know how an action will impact kids, how a campaign will influence kids and that’s only because they are the target group.

To be honest, I don’t think young people are really professional or super-experienced to work like adults. But this shouldn’t be even expected from them. Young people should talk about feelings, opinions, situation and own experience from their environment. We need to adapt the conditions, so they can only focus on things they know the best. Our panelists are these great people. If you ask them on bullying in their environment, they’ll tell you only truth, which can help the organization by education, to see the real situation, to know if they need to prepare involving presentation or rather to prepare one with language of young people. Young people can even tell you if they would click on advertisement promoting Safer Internet and tell you why yes or why not. Young people bring feedback and target group benefits, key aspects for every project, which has anything to do with kids, young people or something they know better.

Youth Panelists on stage

I think this is the real WHY, why should Young people be involved in every project, in which they have anything to say, which can help the project.

Developing internet

Technology and especially internet is a fast progress medium. Progress sounds like really positive word.

Five years ago it wasn’t recommended to put your name online. At least I had the feeling. The environment, where I moved was feeling so. Now? People are proud to put their names online. They want to speak loud, be visible.

This is called global trend. There is a good question about this. Why? Is it because, internet users suddenly changed their opinion about visible name online? I don’t think so. Internet is kind of copying the world market situation. People put their names visible; build LinkedIn profiles, because they want to be recognized. And this is the same think happening in real world. Today degree is nothing, you need skill and experience. You need to be recognized. Internet is copying this trend. And this will grow.

And it’s growing so fast that we can’t stay always informed about the newest issues online. It’s hard to care about online safety nowadays, because the trend is too fast. And I think Insafe is doing great think when extending the program to not just care about online safety, but generally to care about world online. It’s a strategy, where you can stay updated about whole internet issue, not just online safety.

I’m really interested in hearing your views and opinions on this.

Conference on Social Media in Learning and Education

On 20 September 2012, the French national centre for pedagogic documentation (CNDP) organised a conference on social media in learning and education for summer university students at the Poitiers Cité des Savoirs.

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Youth participation in Warsaw

On 20-21 September 2012, the Polish and German Safer Internet Centres held their annual conference in Warsaw. Among the many highlights of the event, Insafe coordinator Janice Richardson talked about the key drivers and challenges for the 30-country wide Insafe network in 2012, in particular underling the importance of peer support and interaction between youth. She briefly showcased the Pan EU Youth website, supported by the European Commission and Vivendi, where young people are encouraged to meet and teachers can download games to trigger discussion and debate about media-related issues in class.

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One month after: reflections of an Austrian youth panellist on the Safer Internet Forum

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!”

SIF 2011 Group Photo

Safer Internet Forum 2011 – Tereza (CZ)

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.