Have Fun and Feel Safe on the Web!

May 18, 2008

Berlin/Nuremberg, May 19, 2008 Young people from seven European countries convened from May 14 - 16, 2008 by invitation of the Youth Protection Roundtable. Lead by Stiftung Digitale Chancen they exchanged views with international experts on visions for the Internet of the future and reflected on how safety as well as fun on the web could be achieved.

A user profile on a social network, photos of last night's party on flickr.com and videos on YouTube all mean fun for young people, but many parents and teachers are concerned about the consequences. At the Youth Protection Roundtable therefore children's welfare organisations from Europe and representatives from online companies gathered to discuss technical tools and pedagogical measures to improve youth protection on the media. For the first time the Young Roundtable members, aged 15 to 19, joined the meeting which was held near Nuremberg.

Internet safety is a hot topic for young people, many of them have experienced grooming and cyberbullying or have faced online content they felt uncomfortable with. The young people carried with them their well-thought ideas to solve these problems. Indeed they believe that their peers are the better consultants for web safety. While adults are able to assess the risks occurring in the real world they are often less acquainted with the virtual reality their children are living in. Digital literacy and training are therefore required for children and youth but also for adults to ensure that they benefit from the Internet in everyday life, school and on the job.

Among many issues discussed was one raised by FOSI's Phil Archer and the Young Roundtable: that of data persistence. Once something is posted to the Web it is virtually impossible to fully erase all copies of the material. This is due to the way the Web works. Every time a user visits a website, a copy is made on his/her machine with many servers caching the data along the way. Removing the data from the origin server is not the same as deleting all those copies. In most cases, this is trivial, but users of all ages should be aware that once you post data to the web, you are no longer in full control of it or what other people might do with it today or in 20 years' time.

The Young Roundtable was supported by Vodafone, Microsoft und F-Secure. Photos and podcasts are available from the YPRT website.