About BIK Youth participation activities
Youth participation activities have always been at the heart of the BIK Youth programme. Lately, marking the European Year of Youth, the #DigitalDecade4YOUth! consultation and the launch of the new BIK+ strategy, youth participation and involvement has taken a more prominent role.
Using co-creation methods, young people work with other stakeholders to develop online safety guidance, learning and campaigning materials, and contribute to decision-making processes to help create a better internet.
Over time, we have been building and publishing a collection of youth participation activities on the BIK Youth site allowing you to both see the outputs of the youth panellists' work, and adapt the methodologies followed for use in your own youth participation settings.
Activity 5: Organisation of a youth "deep dive" session - Understanding the mind-set of youngsters
Youth panellists from across the Insafe network of Safer Internet Centres (SICs) in Europe got together to prepare a "deep dive" session during the recent Safer Internet Forum (SIF), held in Brussels, Belgium on Tuesday, 20 November 2018. Their aim was to identify a contemporary online issue for young people and work together in finding a solution that reflects the youth point of view. The resulting idea was to utilise methods of critical thinking to let adults take a glimpse at the online world through the eyes of young people.
During the initial planning, the youth panel identified the issue of fake personas created by young people to misrepresent themselves on social media. Comparing real lives to such "fancy" lifestyles showcased on social media can result in psychological issues for young people. The BIK Youth Panel 2018 felt the need to address this problem, in order to increase current awareness-raising efforts in this regard.
Considering the format of Safer Internet Forum 2018, youth panellists discussed the most effective way to deliver their message during the youth deep dive session, and agreed on the following methods:
- Utilise methods of critical thinking – the youth panellists decided to address the attendees of the youth deep dive session in a World Café set-up, moderated by the youth panellists themselves. The adult participants would then be invited to critically approach various contemporary online issues relevant to youth (for example, fake news, children's rights, copyright, and so on), in order to see them through the eyes of young people.
- Enhance with visuals – youth panellists agreed to prepare a short promotional video in order to complement their presentation slides. It was decided that the video would be published on YouTube and disseminated on social media via the hashtag #MyDigitalSelfandI. The hashtag will also be used to promote the campaign across various social media platforms.
This youth-led activity launched on 20 November 2018 at the Safer Internet Forum and continued to run towards Safer Internet Day 2019, which took place on Tuesday, 5 February 2019.
Key decisions and lessons learned
During the planning and implementation phase of this youth participation activity, the project facilitators (the BIK Coordination Team at European Schoolnet, privacy expert Chris Pinchen and Austrian Safer Internet Centre representative Barbara Buchegger) explained the overall aims of the project and the processes to be followed. Adult guidance was offered in initiating the activities, but the youth panellists' were given increased autonomy and less direction as the project progressed.
The aims of the project
Before signing up to the project, youth panellists were clearly briefed on the overall aims of the project and the processes which would be followed, namely:
a) to find an issue relevant to the better/safer internet theme.
b) to explore and design a youth participation activity drawing upon a range of possible engagement tools and strategies deemed suitable for young people.
c) to empower young people to express their views and positions on the selected issue, and to voice their own opinions.
Roles and responsibilities
As the project progressed, the youth panellists gradually assumed greater responsibility over the direction and decision-making processes and started working more independently. In this regard, they delegated roles and responsibilities to individual members of the group in line with their respective interests and experiences.
- Youth panellists met regularly in online meetings, before meeting face to face in the days prior to SIF. In these sessions, youth panellists were invited to put forward possible activities, debate the issues, and to determine the themes of common interest among the whole group in order to develop their project.
- In addition to the webinars and the youth space on the BIK community portal, youth panellists took the initiative to determine additional channels of communication via popular social media tools.
- On the specifics of implementing the chosen activity within the available timeframe, the youth panellists agreed on the specific skills, roles and competencies needed, who could provide them, and what additional support was needed from the project facilitators.
Disseminating the message through peers and hashtags
Following the determination of roles and responsibilities, youth panellists started to discuss the details of the deep dive session and the video they intended to prepare.
At this stage, youth panellists worked with almost full autonomy and with minimal supervision from the project facilitators. They agreed on the key messages of their session and the video, the audience of these messages, intended impact of the campaign, and the means of communication to be used for the transmission of these messages. In order to ensure that their messages had the intended impact, youth panellists agreed that it was best to disseminate the promotional video via social media with the hashtag #MyDigitalSelfandI, beyond the activities delivered within the scope of the Safer Internet Forum.
Process versus outcome – how will we report and evaluate results?
The end result of the project may seem like the only important component of the whole activity, but in fact, the process is just as important; involving the youth to identify an issue and devise a campaign is also essential.
Therefore, reporting on this youth participation activity has been twofold:
a) The youth panellists shaped the output of the project with their personal opinions, experiences, views and efforts. The reporting, therefore, took into account the feedback the panellists themselves provided, as well as the feedback received from the attendees of the main event.
b) The outcomes of the deep dive session has been supported by the project facilitators; the promotional video created by the youth participants, as well as a #MyDigitalSelfandI "making of" video, have been further disseminated on the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) portal, on social media and via other dissemination channels.
The final evaluation has been based on these two points, and youth participants will be included in the evaluation process.
Key lessons learned
- The young people showed great dedication and work discipline when they were given an opportunity to express their views and opinions, and when they saw that their views were taken seriously. They were ready to do whatever it takes and go to great lengths to create a quality product.
- Social media appeared to be the first choice of communication during the production phase and the most favoured dissemination channel, as the youth participants themselves - as well as their target audience - is largely on social media.
- The ambition which the youth participants brought to the scenario was great; however, if not directed by the facilitators, they may have lost track of time while trying to perfect their product.
What they're saying about the BIK Youth Panel 2018…
Since last year's BIK Youth Panel passed so quickly, we went back and asked our fantastic Youth Panellists to share a few thoughts about their time in Brussels. What have they learned, what did they enjoy most and more importantly, what will they do to continue their work to create a better online world for their peers?
Read on to find out what some of them told us:
Marina, from Greece:
"What I enjoyed the most from this experience was definitely the part where all of the group worked together and managed to prepare a whole video and a full blown session in such a limited amount of time. When the presentation of our work took place, we really felt like our voices where finally being heard.
Going back home, I know I will never forget this experience and I am sure that I will definitely share our messages and our video with as many people as I possibly can. This event inspired me to never give up fighting for a safer and friendlier environment on the internet since it proved to me that yes, we may be young, but our voices and our opinions count."
Lorcan, from Ireland:
"Some of the things that struck me were how few people were aware of their privacy settings on social media, the number of different platforms people used, the number of friends people had on social media that were simply online friends- people not known to them in advance of meeting them online. I was also particularly interested in how many people were unaware of Article 13 and the child-specific provisions under GDPR. Discussing these issues in our two workshops really showed me how we all need to be mindful of our online presence and keep up to date.
I'm back in Leaving Certificate mode and preparing for my mock exams - in studying my Irish I was reminded of the old Irish seanfhocal 'Is ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine'. This means we rely on each other for shelter... and in this digital age, we definitely need to rely on and support each other."
Catarina, from Portugal:
"I never thought that it would be possible, in less than 24 hours, to meet a group of eighteen young people from different countries, to discuss and to create a project that we consider an asset for all European children and young people. This is the "piece of the puzzle" that was missing, in our view, in digital citizenship education. It was something that transcended all cultural differences; moreover, it was done in a language that is not our native one! But in fact, that is what happened at the BIK Youth Panel, and if this is not one of the most enriching ways to educate and learn, I have no idea what is.
In my case, in addition to the responsibility I felt for speaking from "the point of view of European young people", it was very gratifying to know that I was able to contribute, even in a minimal way, to a Europe more interested in education about innovation and the digital world.
In conclusion, I returned home with more enthusiasm to share everything I learnt, all my thoughts and experiences, to bring my contribution to improve everyone's knowledge about the technological world, and consequently, help to build a better and safer internet for all users."