Making the Internet Safer for Young People
What do you like to do on a Wednesday evening? We love joining a committee room full of inspirational young people at Scottish Parliament, committed to improving digital safety for all.
We were asked by our members and young people in community sessions to create a session in a place of power, where their voice would be listened to, where they could provide ideas and suggestions on combating online abuse and provide solutions that could make the online world a safer place to be.
So, armed with fairy lights, post-it notes and posters, we spent the evening tackling 3 big questions on online safety, taking over a traditional committee room space and making it a relaxed and inclusive space for chat.
Dedicating the first portion of our evening to inspirational speakers, we heard from organisations leading the way in digital citizenship, rights online and championing the body positivity movement.
Members of the 5Rights Youth Leadership Group joined the session, a group of young people from across Scotland passionate about making the digital world safer for all. Powered by Young Scot, the group work together to promote their 5 digital rights.
"Our digital life is really just our life, our digital rights are not digital at all, they are simply our existing rights as young people."
Danni Gordon, founder of The Chachi Power Project, spoke to us about the importance of loving our bodies. Danni is a body positive ambassador and body image advocate and as we all know, the online world can make us feel not so great about our body.
At The Chachi Power Project, Danni wants to change the world by teaching people to love their body. She spoke so eloquently and powerfully about the journey she has been on with her own body and wants to change the conversation online around body image too. Our social media newsfeeds are often cluttered with images of bodies that don't look like ours, whilst we want to feel good about our bodies we are fed images that can often contradict that.
Rhoda Grant MSP, our wonderful sponsor for the evening talked about toxic environment that the online world can be, reflecting on the often volatile nature elected officials face consistently in their online spaces.
Then, the moving and shaking! Attendees worked in smaller groups to answer three big questions with not a lot of time, on how we can make the online world safer. The ideas just kept on coming! We heard from young people in secondary school and at college, undergrads, workers and organisations who work in the digital safety arena.
We asked about experiences of using the internet as a tool for connection - what is the best thing about the internet? Global, learning resource, a social tool, job opportunities, cats and so much more!
We then asked about the dark side of the internet, what is the worst thing about the internet? A lack of safety, fraud, deep fakes, a tool that facilitates controlling behaviour, porn and the monetisation of data...we definitely didn't have enough time to answer this question.
The final question, we asked attendees to tell us what they would buy/do/create if we gave them an unlimited pot of cash, to make the internet safer. Thoughts? Mental health ambassadors in school, peer education systems, an internet justice system, a switch off button or design an internet regulatory body. All of this in 10 minutes!
But...we weren't quite finished. At the back of the committee room, on a board surrounded by fairy lights, we asked each group to put forward their golden suggestion. 1 suggestion only per group to form the basis of our Empower Project action plan that collectively we will be taking forward through our programme Empower Pods and by having conversations with policy-makers and Government.
Our amazing attendees provided us with so many ideas and suggestions and we can't wait to share with the outputs from this event. We don't want to tease you too much, but you're going to have to watch this space to find out what our action plan will look like. It's bold and it's exciting.
Check out snaps from our event here.
If you'd like to get involved in our upcoming programme, Empower Pods you can find out more information here. We'd love to get involved and co-produce an exciting project with us!