It is clear as a whistle that the internet provides infinite advantages for children and young people. But on the other hand we can’t deny that it also comes with some risks.
That is why a lot of organizations work together towards a ‘safer’ internet. But in this Belgian Better Internet Consortium, the member-organizationswant to look further than that. Whilst a ‘safer internet’ is particularly focussing on the possible risks and the protection of kids and youngsters online, the concept of a ‘better internet’ delivers a mainly positive message.
The internet is actually a fantastic thing that provides positive opportunities and empowers children and young people to reach their full potential… as long as you know how to deal with it!
And just like when you teach somebody to ride a bike in traffic, we need to provide the wright framework so we can empower them to deal with those risks and become true reflecting digital citizens with a positive vision towards digital media.
Not everyone has the access, means or skills to participate fully in our digital society. Therefore, we feel it is important to improve our media literacy initiatives so that they better meet the needs and expectations of digitally and socially vulnerable audiences.
Our question was the following: How can our media literacy initiatives include and support vulnerable groups? In the framework of the European project ‘Belgian Better Internet Consor- tium (B-BICO)’, CSEM, Média Animation and Mediawijs brought together professionals, practi- tioners and experts between March and November 2021 to discuss this question.
During these «Betternet Labs», professionals from the sectors of digital inclusion, poverty, literacy and media literacy were invited to testify about the social and digital inequalities their beneficiaries are facing and to reflect on how media literacy could address them.
Secondly, during a second Bet- ternetlab, we more specifically examined the issue of supervision of children’s media practices within vulnerable families.
These meetings allowed us to identify nine main recommendations addressed to policy makers and education stakeholders.
Today, the landscape of initiatives related to cybersecurity, e-safety, education and the promotion of a better internet for children is very fragmented in Belgium.
Many of the existing initiatives concerning safety are mostly unknown among the general public, which makes it very difficult for the Belgian citizen to find his way in the landscape of e-safety initiatives looking for informative, resources, tools, etc. Due to a lack of collaboration or dialogue, the resources that often already are very rare, are spent rather inefficiently.
The Belgian Better Internet Consortium wants to gather and streamline all Belgian actors and expertise involved in e-safety and online media literacy and concretely work together by taking joint initiatives, for instance via the creation of a “one-stop shop” for the Belgian general public. The organisations that are member of the consortium work on very diverse topics, going from technical safety, safe use to a better use of the internet.
In order to guarantee the quality of the consortium and to meet proven needs, the creation was preceded by a qualitative mapping to define, situate and describe the existing practices and actors concerning e-safety and online media literacy /of all relevant stakeholders and existing resources. You can access the database of online media literacy initiatives Dutch-speaking initiatives here. The French- and Germanspeaking initiatives can be found here.
The members of the Consortium are:
On the occasion of the Safer Internet Day 2019, B-BICO members, with the support of civil society organizations, drafted a memorandum on the digital rights of children and young people. The memorandum contains a number of recommendations and concrete examples of measures to achieve them.
Download the full note here.
If you want your organisation to join the consortium, please contact Child Focus via email@example.com
The creation of the Belgian Better Internet Consortium was part of a bigger project, a EU-funded project under the Connecting Europe Facility Telecommunication Work programme 2014.
The project is a nation-wide project that reaches across the different parts of the federal structure of the country and across the different language groups.
Child Focus coordinates the project with a federal partner : CERT.be. The French speaking community is represented by Média Animation and the Conseil Supérieur de l’Education aux médias (CSEM) and by iMinds (Mediawijs.be) for the Flemish Community.
The B-BICO project is funded by the European Commission under the Connecting Europe Facility –Telecommunication Work programme 2014. One of its overall objectives is to deploy services that help make the Internet a trusted environment for children through actions that empower and protect them online.
As underlined in the EU Agenda for the Rights of the Child, the long-term effects of not investing enough in policies affecting children may have a profound impact on our societies.
Whereas the Digital Agenda for Europe aims to have every European digital, children have particular needs and vulnerabilities on the Internet, which must be addressed specifically so that the Internet becomes a place of opportunities for children to access knowledge, to communicate, to develop their skills and to improve their job perspectives and employability. Keeping children safe online is a key commitment of the Digital Agenda for Europe, one of the flagship initiatives of Europe 2020.
In 2012, the Commission has set out a plan, through the European Strategy for a Better Internet for Children, to give children the digital skills and tools they need to benefit fully and safely from being online. It is articulated around four main ‘pillars’ that mutually reinforce each other
(1) Stimulating quality content online for young people;
(2) Stepping up awareness and empowerment;
(3) Creating a safe environment for children online; and
(4) Fighting against child sexual abuse and child sexual exploitation.
It proposes a series of actions to be undertaken by the Commission, Member States and the whole industry value chain.
This strategy builds on ongoing EU actions in this field: for example, the easy-to-use mechanisms for children, parents and teachers to report harmful content and conduct online will complement the 116 missing children hotlines (see press release IP/07/188).
The Coalition to make a better internet for children, or CEO Coalition, launched in December 2011, is a cooperative voluntary intervention designed to respond to emerging challenges arising from the diverse ways in which young Europeans go online. Companies’ signatories to the Coalition committed to take positive action to make the internet a safer place for kids.