Pan-EU Youth Panel – Luxembourg, October 2011
On 18 – 19 October 2011, the third edition of the Insafe Pan-EU Youth Panel took place in Luxembourg, preceding the European Commission’s annual Safer Internet Forum. Thirty-six national youth panel members from 30 countries across Europe, came together to discuss and debate different issues of safe and responsible use of the internet.
First up was an icebreaking event to encourage interaction between the young people, and get them to mix with their counterparts from across Europe. A series of challenges were set, ranging from Twister to four in a row, darts, and even a virtual game of beach volleyball!
On the second day there was a walking lunch, where the young people explored the city to find the location of their lunch using a GPS device and a booklet containing clues. After a quick tug of war challenge back at base, it was down the serious business of the event…gaining the views and opinions of young people on the safer internet issues that are important to them!
Rights, responsibilities and looking to the future
The aim for this session was to discuss the way online rights and responsibilities may change over the next 20 years as the online world and technology continue to change and develop.
The session began by establishing what the youth panel members felt their current online rights and responsibilities are. Following on from this, youth panellists were encouraged to think about the future of the internet and the way in which this would influence how they (need to) behave online.
After much debate – and some disagreements – the youth panellists drafted a set of questions that they would pose to Commissioner Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission and European Digital Agenda Commissioner, via video link at the Safer Internet Forum later in the week. These included:
- What are governments doing to ensure that everybody receives the same speed and standard of internet connection at a reasonable cost?
- Should I be able to organise protest events and discussion using social media like in Egypt and Libya? If not is this not a violation of freedom of expression?
- The freedom of internet has to be protected – how can it be protected in the context of current security and privacy protection issues?
- How can the European Commission support education for the digital society? How could they support us (young people) to educate ourselves (i.e. strength of peer education)?
At the end of the session, youth panellists created posters which were displayed during the Safer Internet Forum too.
PlayDecide Discussion Games
As part of its first-phase consultation process, the Pan-EU Youth Project created a number of role-play games as a way of finding out young people’s opinions on current issues regarding safe and responsible use of modern media. Topics covered are ‘Young people in the media’, ‘Digital lives’ and ‘E-skills’. As one of the activities, youth panel members split into groups to play the games and some interesting opinions were aired!
The group discussing digital skills, for example, supported the idea of an internet driver’s license, which should be reviewed and taken every couple of years. They also decided, however, that such a license should not be mandatory.
Another group, discussing young people in the media, agreed that online advertising of a sexual nature should be better regulated. They felt that sometimes young people are subconsciously affected by this advertising, for example giving young people unrealistic aspirations about the way they should look or act.
Overall, the game was a great success and was a great vehicle to encourage discussion. You can view a video of this activity below or on the Pan-EU Youth YouTube channel.
Security, hacking and me
During this session, the youth panellists discussed security issues and the risk of hacking. The level of knowledge on this particular issue was varied, with some participants being incredibly aware of the issues while others thought “…it won’t affect me!”.
Open discussions led to the identification of two preventative measures which were considered to be vital by all participants: anti-virus tools and password strength/protection. Some participants even devised their own checklist to help reduce security and hacking risks.
The Digital Agenda and You(th)
In this session, all of the youth panellists were introduced to the Digital Agenda for Europe and were made aware of the links to their day-to-day life as well as their potential interests in the individual topics.
This session provided an introduction to current political discussions, as well as to receive feedback on youth views. The participants’ general feedback was positive with regards to the European Commission’s focal points of policy making. Nevertheless, the participants expressed a desire to be more informed and involved in the policy-making processes. A strong will to participate in youth-oriented ways was notable.
After two days of discussion, debate and preparation – alongside some fun activities and events – it was off to the Safer Internet Forum for the youth panellists to share their views in front of more than 300 representatives of industry, law enforcement authorities, child welfare organisations and policy makers.
The youth panellists shared their view and participated in round-table debates, giving an insight into policy decisions affect them and their futures. Sessions included:
- Online reputation – the digital generation
- The internet in my pocket
- Policy shaping through youth participation
- Exposed online – a workshop looking at the emergence of ‘sexting’ and challenges for parents and young people.
In preparation for the session on online reputation, several national youth panels created and submitted videos on this topic, which are available to view below and in a special playlist on the Pan-EU Youth YouTube channel.
Several of the young people also made movies on iPads during a workshop session at Safer Internet Forum, focusing on what they had learnt during their time at the Pan-EU Youth Panel. These are available to view below and in a special playlist on the Pan-EU Youth YouTube channel.
Additionally, two of the youth ambassadors (Ľuboš and Tereza) and one of the youth panellists blogged about the event – you can read their blog posts here.