BIK Youth Ambassadors: Making the best of digital technologies during lockdown

The global lockdown induced by the coronavirus pandemic has caused fundamental changes to the lifestyles of young people around the world. One of these consequences is their increased reliance on digital technologies – to maintain a social life, to study, to access culture, to express their creativity, and more. The BIK Youth Ambassadors share their insights and tips to cope with this new reality in the best way possible.

Staying busy and entertained from home thanks to digital technologies

When asked how they are spending their time during lockdown, all BIK Youth Ambassadors replied that studying takes up a significant portion of their time, and most of it takes place on the internet, from participating in online classes to using online services to do assignments. Some young people even indicated having taken up a free additional online course during confinement.

In order to keep physically active despite the lockdown measures, several young people indicated that they have turned to fitness apps and videos on streaming platforms. Others have been using digital technologies to carry on with their usual face-to-face trainings, such as Lorcán, BIK Youth Ambassador from Ireland, who is "continuing (his) rowing training and (his) coach does online video call sessions" with him and his teammates.

Moreover, as pointed out by many Ambassadors, digital technologies give everyone the possibility to maintain a social life while in isolation – and it has proven crucial for them to keep in touch with their friends and families.

BIK Youth Ambassadors' online resource recommendations

Several BIK Youth Ambassadors pointed to the fact that they see the current lockdown as an opportunity to learn a new skill, and therefore recommended online learning platforms such as eCollege (Ireland) and Jove Education (Portugal) – due to the exceptional situation, the second platform can be accessed for free, for a limited time.

For those with an interest in 2.0 journalism, the Thomson Foundation offers a series of Journalism Now online interactive courses, on topics such as reporting on COVID-19, journalism across multiple platforms, social media newsgathering, and so on.

For those who would like to learn the ropes of creating an app with global impact, the MIT App Inventor offers just that, through a wealth of intuitive tutorials – and no need for programming skills. And for those who are looking to brush up on their geography skills, why not use try GeoGuessr, a game in which the player shows up at a random place in the world and has to guess where they are. In addition, thanks to Google Earth, anyone can also explore the globe without leaving their room.

The YouTube channel Kurzgesagt (In a Nutshell) was also recommended (available in English and German versions) as a great way to learn more about physics, social sciences, mathematics and more, in an entertaining and accessible way. Finally, one BIK Youth Ambassador recommended using the app Forest; it's a great way to remain focused and avoid the temptation of unlocking your smartphone while studying.

Similarly, thanks to digital technologies, culture and creativity have never been so accessible to so many people. BIK Youth Ambassadors recommended taking advantage of Google Arts & Culture, a non-profit initiative run by Google in partnership with cultural institutions and artists around the world to make the world's art and culture accessible to anyone, anywhere, simply by bringing it online.

Online streaming platforms such as Netflix and YouTube were also quoted as a great way to spend time while in lockdown, offering endless possibilities to discover series, movies, documentaries, animations and more, from all over the world.

Moreover, many apps offer users simple and intuitive ways of expressing their creativity – BIK Youth Ambassadors mentioned Design Home: House Renovation, an online interior design game; Pinterest, a visual discovery engine enabling its users to find, get inspired by and share creative ideas; and Canva, a graphic design platform that allows users to create a wide variety of visual content.

Last but not least, digital technologies offer many ways for young people to remain civically engaged. In that regard, BIK Youth Ambassadors recommend that other young people watch Levi Hildebrand's YouTube channel, on which the creator, Levi, shares simple everyday tips on minimalism, and eco-friendly and ethical consumption to make the world a better place. Similarly, the Our Changing Climate YouTube channel features beautiful animated videos on very practical concerns regarding climate change: should you buy almond, rice or oat milk? Does recycling even work? What's wrong with Black Friday?

Moreover, one BIK Youth Ambassador also mentioned participating in Be My Eyes, an app in which sighted volunteers can lend their eyes to solve all manner of tasks to help blind and low-vision people lead more independent lives. Another Ambassador is taking part in the Heritage Records Transcription - Meitheal, a heritage project in Ireland in which volunteers digitise school records from the 1930s; it's a great way to learn more about the heritage and folklore of Ireland, while also being beneficial to generations to follow!

On Better Internet for Kids (BIK), We'll be bringing you a range of articles and insights on the opportunities and challenges of being online during COVID-19 for the duration of the crisis. Keep checking the BIK portal and follow our social channels on Twitter (@Insafenetwork and @SafeInternetDay) and Facebook (@SaferInternet and @SaferInternetDay) for the latest news, information, advice and resources from the Insafe network and from other stakeholder organisations on staying safe online during the coronavirus pandemic.

In addition, for localised help and support in responding to some of the online challenges which COVID-19 might present, please do reach out to your national Safer Internet Centre (SIC) – find profile information and contact details on the BIK portal. In addition to a range of articles and resources in national languages, European Safer Internet Centres also provide helpline services allowing children and young people, and parents and carers, to access personalised advice and support.

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