20 years of Childnet: a youth perspective

Posted on 03 November 2015

Eleanor, 16, tells us about her experience of being involved in Safer Internet Day 2014, the Youth IGF Project and about what she got up to during a week of work experience at the Childnet office.

I first met Childnet when one of the education team came into my secondary school to give presentations about internet safety. I had a really good session and found I was quite interested in the topic of internet safety. Childnet was impressed with the positive response they had received from the day. Thus Childnet contacted my secondary school and asked for a few older students to talk about safety online at their Safer Internet Day event in 2014.

Along with two other members of my year group, I was chosen by the school due to interest shown on the subject and from experience in public speaking. We got the opportunity to meet with some other young people at the Safer Internet Day event hosted at Microsoft offices in London. We had a number of discussions about various aspects of safety online and risks for young people. Fortunately, it was possible for your little team to visit 10 Downing Street for an education discussion as well as getting to meet various people throughout the day including Olympic gymnast Beth Tweddle.

Towards the end of the day we had a conference where we got to put across our views as young people as well as getting the opportunity to further discus with some of the members of the audience. This was a brilliant experience us and personally, I felt empowered by being able to voice the opinions of youth and to impact so many people.

From the day, Childnet thought that we spoke very well and put across a number of good ideas. Consequently, the three of us from my secondary school were then invited to attend the international Internet Governance Forum (September 2014) in Istanbul, Turkey. The week was amazing and presented us with so many opportunities. During the week, we represented UK youth at IGF conferences, talks and receptions. It was inspiring to talk to so many people from a wide range of backgrounds. Thus no conversation was the same and the collaboration concluded with a torrent of ideas. Having been in the audience and sat on two panels at IGF, by the end of the week I had learnt so much. Moreover, we did also get to talk to some influential people and individuals far up in their respective fields. It made for a creative, inspirational and vibrant environment bursting with ideas.

Last year’s involvement with Childnet encouraged me to further think about online safety and some of the risks posed to young people today. While the internet is an excellent place overflowing with possibilities, some people don’t realise some of the potential hazards that remain. I wanted to do something more to help achieve a safer online environment and to provide a platform through which young people around me could voice concerns.

So I spent a week working with Childnet in their offices on a work experience week.  Truly, it is only when you work with an organisation like this that you realise how hard these people work. The office is lively, friendly and hard working. Some people don’t realise that massive national events, such as Safer Internet Day and the Childnet Film Competition, are organised by a small yet complimentary team. Sitting in the middle of it all has provided me that opportunity to see them at work and partially work amongst them. I hope some of the work I have done this week will aid the work they do. I’ve done a number of small projects on their 20th anniversary celebrations, development of their website and research for their education team and have loved every second.

So how has it impacted me? Well I just want to continue to aid the progress of Childnet and similar organisations so that the internet becomes even more beneficial and the majority of risks are removed. We must accept that not all hazards can be totally removed but we can do our best to make people aware of them and put measures in place to slowly diminish them. Most importantly, my work with Childnet has shown to me how important each stake holder is and that young people play a key part in the development of new technology. The voice of young people needs to be heard because, in essence, we are the future of the internet.

You can find out more about our Youth IGF Project and Safer Internet Day in our 20th anniversary report: http://www.childnet.com/what-we-do/20-years-of-childnets-work

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