Insights from Vibeke: BIK Youth Panel Q&A session

The Danish Safer Internet Centre spoke to Vibeke, who participated in the BIK Youth Panel at last year’s Safer Internet Forum in Brussels. She shared her insights on the Forum and the importance of involving youth in promoting online safety. 

Why did you decide to join the Bik Youth Panel this year?  

It is great to meet many different people from diverse cultures. It was also a bonus that we could work together on a topic that I think is hugely important and where it is essential that young people have a say. Digital media is something that many others and I have an opinion on. By working together, we could produce something pretty cool.  

What has been the most exciting thing about Safer Internet Forum? 

It was all very exciting; one of the most exciting things was the deep dive sessions, where you had the opportunity to talk to different experts and people from the industry. You got so much input on exciting topics. The Bik Youth Panel had pre-selected the topics for the different sessions, and we felt like everyone around the table was listening. They took notes and said that the points we made were good ones. You felt much validated that your voice mattered and that the people in the sessions took it to heart. I think we came up with some really good things at both deep-dive sessions. 

What has been your key issue for the Safer Internet Forum? 

Most of all, adults need to listen to young people when discussing their problems. We also need to be allowed to speak about how we experience things. In one of the deep dive sessions, we talked about 'likes' and 'followers' on social media and how they can put pressure on young people; where I talked about the Ungeprofilen study we do in Denmark shows that this is not what young people were thinking about at all. That is also why the Safer Internet Forum is a good idea: We get to tell adults directly what matters to us.

How can more young people get involved in creating a better and safer internet for children and young people? 

Giving young people a voice that they can use and that is easily accessible to them. Not everyone can make a three-day trip to Brussels like me. Having online alternatives to conferences, like the Safer Internet Forum (SIF), would be beneficial so that young people can participate and share their knowledge and opinions. It is also important to have different conferences, like SIF, where you invite young people and treat them as experts, which you want to use in the field. But youth involvement can also happen in everyday life if you make sure that the young people in your life know that you take them seriously and are curious about what they have to say. It is always great when schools get involved, and teachers see that students are passionate about something, allowing them to work with the Safer Internet Centre in their country.  

What is the most important thing you have learned at the Safer Internet Forum? 

Keynote speaker Professor Amanda Third talked about how children and young people perceive digital skills and what they want to be equipped to do digitally. There is much focus on the significant and critical problems. But that does not bother us young people at all, according to the keynote. Instead, it is the small, everyday things that young people worry about when they go online."
What is happening online is happening in the real 'world' - it is not necessarily separable for young people because it is so fluid for them. That was a cool perspective and made me think, 'Yeah, yeah, that's how it is’. You felt very seen and understood when she made that point. It was great that she was able to put it into words. Many of the young people in the room could relate to it.

If you had to choose one message, what would be the most important message?  

Being on the internet is like being in the real world. We need some of the same skills we need in real life: these 'soft skills' of communication and emotions. The BIK Youth Panel's message was to be kind, respectful and caring on the internet and everywhere else because it enables you to empower and inspire others and help transform the world into a much better place through those small actions.

Find out more about Safer Internet Day in Denmark. Alternatively, find more information about the work of the Danish Safer Internet Centre, including their awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services – or find similar information for other Safer Internet Centres throughout Europe.    

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