Last week I had the great good fortune of participating in Safer Internet Forum 2009 in Luxembourg. What a fantastic experience, connecting with online-safety experts representing the 27 EU member countries plus Malaysia, Brazil, and New Zealand. I spoke on “Online Safety 3.0” and felt right at home (imagine how confirming it is to have colleagues from Bulgaria and Slovenia come up afterwards and say how much they could relate!). The Forum included teen panelists (aged 14-18) from 26 of the 27 countries.
This year’s focus was “Promoting Online Safety in Schools.” Here are highlights – things I heard from presenters over the four days of Forum and INSAFE meetings (INSAFE coordinates the European Commission’s network of Safer Internet Centres, one in each member country):
There is no question in my mind that more dialogue and collaboration between the US and Europe would be good for all, especially youth.
Projects I’d love to see happen in the US:
1. For parents: As in the Netherlands, a “Cyberparent” program, training a parent or group of Cyberparents or Techparents in every school, possibly associated with PTOs and PTAs, working with the school and peer-mentoring fellow parents
2. For schools: A pilot project supported by the US Department of Education, with a half-dozen school districts around the country implementing a holistic Tech Skills, Media Skills, and Life Skills program pre-K-12 (an idea I got while on a panel with a representative from UK education-technology agency Becta)
3. For students: A nationwide school-based peer-mentoring program like Finland’s (mentioned above).