Safer Internet Day: Report shows that young people are keen to create a better online world

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To mark the occasion of Safer Internet Day (6 February), it’s fitting that we highlight The Better Internet for Kids Review of the Year which shows the dedication of young people to contributing to a safer, more secure and inclusive online experience.

The report gives an overview of the efforts by various stakeholders to both protect and empower children and young people in their digital lives over the past year, while the European Union-backed Better Internet for Kids (BIK) has been fully focused on ensuring young people are equipped with the skills they need to thrive in the digital world.

Young people, says BIK, which works with various partners including European Schoolnet and INHOPE, have displayed an ‘eagerness’ to make their voices heard when it comes to designing the internet of the future, and so part of its role is about helping the promote the huge amount of opportunities that the internet holds, while also addressing the many challenges around access and safety online.

‘Make their voices heard’

BIK says that while Europe’s children and youth are the main beneficiaries of this work, it also reaches out to, and collaborates with, a range of other stakeholders – namely parents and carers, teachers and educators, researchers, industry, civil society, decision makers and law enforcement. This, it adds, ‘reflects the fact that we all have a role to play in creating a better internet’.

Furthermore, it adds, ‘the actions conducted in the framework of Better Internet for Kids frequently reach beyond Europe, impacting upon safer and better internet approaches right across the globe’.

“Against a demanding backdrop featuring profound challenges and changes, as well as unprecedented geopolitical developments, 2023 was nonetheless a positive year in terms of developments for child safety online, such as:

  • The Digital Services Act (DSA) entered into force for the Very Large Online Platforms (VLOPs) and Very Large Online Search Engines (VLOSEs) in 2023, which represents a significant and tangible step forward for child protection online, with the Commission taking responsibility for ensuring that these largest firms follow the new rules
  • booklet explaining the protection of minors under the DSA is available, aiming to ensure that children, carers and educators are well aware of their rights under the DSA and of the practical impact of the new rules. Furthermore, a Digital Services Act Stakeholder event took place in June 2023, providing a valuable opportunity for stakeholder to contribute their insights for the implementation of the DSA, and reflect on the diverse challenges and opportunities associated with digital services.
  • In May 2023, the European strategy for a better internet for kids (BIK+), supporting the implementation of the DSA with the aim of better protecting, empowering and respectingchildren and young people online, celebrated its first anniversary. As part of the celebrations, a fourth edition of the BIK Policy Map was launched, providing a regular review of the implementation and achievements of policy in this area, also at Member State level.

And so, looking to the future, BIK says that 2024 ‘is foreseen to be another year of challenges, change and unanticipated geopolitical developments’.

‘Robust support network’

There will be a new child child and youth consumer protection campaign, analyses of (manipulative) digital marketing practices targeted at children and youth, along with also the likelihood of a fresh focus on media literacy.

“In summary, in 2024 we must continue to ensure that children and young people (and those that have a responsibility to care for and support them) know how to use the online content and services at their disposal safely and effectively, have opportunities to develop good media literacy skills, and have a robust support network to fall back on should things go wrong,” says BIK.

Click here for the full report.

Author: Simon Weedy

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