One of our Digital Champions, Jess from Selston High School, was invited to attend the Safer Internet Forum in Brussels on 21st November 2019. Jess was selected to represent the UK within the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) Youth Panel, made up of around 25 young people from across Europe.
We asked Jess to tell us about her experience at the Safer Internet Forum. She provided us with a report detailing how she collaborated with young people from other countries and how she found the whole experience. Read Jess’ report below:
“The Safer Internet Forum is an event held annually to spread the word about positive Internet use and bring people together to share their views on different topics surrounding the online world. In 2019, I was chosen to represent the UK and speak as part of the BIK Youth Panel to help make a change for young people online, with the Safer Internet Forum being a way to express our views and take a stand for youth online.
Due to our limited time in Brussels, we needed to come up with ideas and ways to kick-start our campaign before reaching the conference itself. This was done through various web conferences, starting a couple of months before we were due to arrive. These online meetings helped us put together ideas, get to know each other more and ultimately prepare for the event properly. Lots of brilliant ideas were thrown around in these meetings about how we can spread our message, both online and offline, and how we can kick-start our campaign. In the end, we chose to go with an Instagram account, informing and helping young people to use the Internet positively and responsibly. You can find us at @bik.youthforyouth.
During my time at the Safer Internet Forum in Brussels, Belgium, I took part in lots of different activities and helped to prepare for our session within the Forum itself. Not only did we hold many discussions on important topics facing today’s youth online, but we also covered less talked-about topics such as helplines and misogyny in gaming. These activities helped is build skills in communication, teamwork and organisation. We also planned our session for the forum itself and discussed many things such as the survey we ran, how to present our Instagram account and speeches we would perform in our session.
Of course the forum itself was an incredible experience, however the other young people I met whilst there really was the highlight of my trip. Seeing how the Internet can bring a group of young people together from all across Europe really highlighted why I believe the online world is such an amazing place to be. After weeks of chatting with each other online, we finally all got to meet face-to-face and share our message to a wider audience. Everyone was so kind and supportive, it really was an experience I’ll never forget.
After attending the Safer Internet Forum, I learnt not only so much more about online safety, but also more about the power of the Internet; how it can bring people together, to share a universal message and help change young people’s lives online for the better. There is so much negativity in the media surrounding the online space, however this experience taught me that no matter where you are in the world, the Internet can unite us all and bring us together as one amazing, supportive community full of people just like you and me, and bring about a change online.
This experience has changed my life, and without the Internet, I never would have met such awe-inspiring people who are helping to make the Internet a better place for people like you and me. “
Thank you Jess for being an excellent representative for young people across the UK and ensuring that youth voice is heard. Find out more about our Digital Champions here and take a look at their plans for the year ahead as well as more information about their role within the programme here.