On Monday 5th August we were visited by 13 excited young people from The Challenge Network. The Challenge brings together young people from very different backgrounds and through a series of challenges inspires them to take a more active role in their communities, and develops leadership and communication skills.
We had an hour and a half with this fantastic group of young people to motivate and encourage them to create a campaign and fundraising event for us. We are incredibly passionate about what we do but the pressure was now on for us to get the team excited by our values and cause.
After an introduction and overview from Pippa our Education and Youth Engagement manager it was time to have some in depth discussions (and flapjacks and fruit!) challenging the young people to think about their own experiences online as well as those of their peers. The key areas of discussion were:
- Should young people have a say in the future of the internet?
- Have your peers ever had a negative experience online?
- Do your parents/ carers know enough to help you online?
- Do you think the government and industry should be doing more to look out for you online?
- Did you learn about staying safe online at school?
- Have you ever been creative online? What did you create? Or if not, why haven’t you?
The groups then presented back the key points that they had discussed. It was great to hear young people highlighting the importance of education for both young people but also for parents and carers. Many shared that they had received some e-safety messages at school but they felt that they hadn’t necessarily been that useful and felt that an expert coming into their school would have been a great tool and would enable them to ask questions they didn’t feel they could ask their teachers.
We also heard the group identify the importance of being a responsible user online. They also believed that the services they use have a responsibility to provide clear and effective tools that enable users to feel safe online. All of the young people felt that they are key stakeholders and have a voice and opinion that is important. As the next generation they felt that they should have a say in the future of the internet.
As an organisation Childnet focuses on education, youth participation and influencing policy. It was great for us to see the young people affirming these values as important areas to focus on, and they were fully involved in discussions and debate around the subject of online safety. We are really looking forward to the group working with us in September for their volunteering day.