BIK Youth Ambassador Joana at the European Youth Week kick-off event

On 12 April 2024, the European Youth Week kick-off event was held at the European Parliament in Brussels. Better Internet for Kids co-hosted, together with DG CNECT and the Publications Office of the EU, a session called "Check your facts! The power of digital skills, critical thinking and open data". BIK Youth Ambassador Joana, from Portugal, was the chair during the session, and shared her views from the experience with us.

Being one of the BIK Youth Ambassadors at the kick-off event of European Youth Week at the European Parliament in Brussels was an incredible experience. It was on Friday, the 12th, that I had the chance to visit the parliament for the first time in my life, participate in activities that interest me, and that I wanted to get involved in. I shared this experience with other young people from diverse backgrounds and with very different views, and I had the opportunity to hear relevant insights from Commissioners, European politicians, and policymakers. Having a parliamentary seat in Brussels for a few hours was a truly impactful experience.

The highlight of my day was the session I had the honour of co-chairing with Diya, representing the BIK project, in a collaboration between DG CNECT and the Publications Office. Our involvement in the session as young ambassadors proved to be extremely relevant in the context of an event aimed at giving the younger generation the opportunity to "voice their vision."

The session "Check your facts! The power of digital skills, critical thinking, and open data" featured an enlightening opening panel. The combination of experts in media literacy and open data with a youthful perspective effectively engaged the young attendees. Participants were then challenged to "get hands-on," putting their skills to the test and understanding the challenges of identifying the accuracy of information, while learning the best practices to do so safely. In a friendly competition among teams, there was no shortage of debate and collaboration, a commitment to achieving the best results, and enthusiasm for learning more. Could they distinguish real news from fake news? And identify AI-generated images? Did they have what it takes to be true fact-checkers? The participants showed excellent results! 

In conclusion, we reflected on the challenges we face in navigating a vast amount of information, from traditional news to social media posts. The emphasis was on the critical need for media and data literacy to make informed decisions, protect privacy, and engage meaningfully online, particularly in the context of voting and combating disinformation.

At the end of the day, one thought resonated with me. When asked about "the solution for disinformation," panelist Andy Demeulenaere, coordinator of Mediawijs, pointed out that the aim of disinformation is to foster distrust leading to general disinterest. Indeed, when faced with uncertainty about what to believe, the simplest reaction is apathy.

In this session, I witnessed first-hand that we, as young people, are countering this trend. I saw concerns expressed through questions, doubts, and opinions, and heard meaningful and engaged debate. This event is all about empowering young people, and they demonstrated their commitment to shaping the future with knowledge, skills, and a unique and increasingly vital passion.

It was Friday, 12 April, at the European Parliament in Brussels, half past six, and we were raising a toast to a successful session, a rewarding event, and the crucial role of youth participation.

Joana, BIK Youth Ambassador from Portugal

Joana Martins
BIK Youth Ambassador from Portugal

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