Recovery & Renewal: Creating a path to a new normal
On November 15th, FOSI hosted its live, virtual 2021 Annual Conference, entitled “Recovery & Renewal: Creating a path to new normal.” This event highlighted our most important insights from the last year and a half, to ensure that our new normal includes revamped best practices for ourselves, our families, and our world. The event convened leaders across industry, government, academia, and the nonprofit sector to discuss a variety of topics within online safety such as content moderation, the digital divide, children’s privacy, and digital wellbeing, among others.
Caroline Curtin, Director of Government Affairs at Microsoft and Chair of the FOSI Board, started the day by giving a welcome address and Stephen Balkam, CEO, gave opening remarks.
The first session of the conference was the launch of FOSI’s new research, “Managing the Narrative: Young People’s Use of Online Safety Tools,” made possible in partnership with Snap Inc. and conducted by The Harris Poll. Findings from the report were presented by researchers David Krane and Jessica Massay, who shared the leading findings from the report, specifically about young people’s attitudes and experiences in the discussion around online safety, their feedback on what remains difficult, and how parents, educators, and industry can provide better blueprints to continue creating helpful solutions.
Following their presentation, a panel of experts shared the stage for the first plenary session, and provided a further dissection of Managing the Narrative. Dr. Ellen Selkie of the University of Wisconsin, Madison moderated a conversation between Jacqueline Beauchere from Snap Inc, David Krane of The Harris Poll, and Amanda Lenhart of Data & Society Research Institute. The panelists shared their reactions to the report as well as discussed the methodology used and how the pandemic provides contextualization to the findings. The panelists also spoke about the importance of a healthy parent-child relationship when it came to technology and discussed the ways in which industry can work together with parents to create a safe and inclusive experience for teens online.
After a short networking break, Dr. Richard Graham of Good Thinking: The London Digital Mental Wellbeing Service led the discussion for the ‘Setting the Scene: Psychological Wellbeing & Resilience’ plenary. He was joined on screen by Dr. Nusheen Ameenuddin of The Mayo Clinic, author and filmmaker Tiffany Shlain, and Rosalind Wiseman of Cultures of Dignity. The panel explored their interpretation of wellbeing and resilience, how to create spaces that encourage digital wellbeing for children and families, and how best to establish honest communication, supportive relationships, and healthy boundaries when it comes to digital exploration.
In the final session of the morning, Stephen Balkam of FOSI was joined in conversation by Karen Ressmeyer of Amazon and Dr. Michael Rich of the Digital Wellness Lab. ‘Technology’s Positive Role in Child Development’ showcased how Amazon Kids approaches product development and privacy in their new kids products as well as highlighted the ways in which technology can play a helpful and positive role in child development when created thoughtfully and used in moderation.
The first set of breakout sessions explored a wide range of topics including policy, parenting, industry, and research. The policy panel explored the international implications of COPPA and the Age Appropriate Design Code, namely how the AADC can be a model and tool for global privacy and safety protection for children online. The parenting session discussed ways in which families can benefit from having regular conversations about setting tech expectations as well as actionable tips parents can use to manage tech in the home. In the “Industry Solutions” panel, speakers discussed a variety of topics ranging from recent technical safety features and the design process of such products to the importance of research and media literacy campaigns in developing the best user and parental controls for online safety. In “Gathering the Evidence: Latest Research and Insights,” researchers discussed how the pandemic has globally affected teens and young people in regards to their relationship with technology as well as how the past year and a half have affected cyberbullying, resilience measures, and what further research is needed in this space.
Our featured afternoon fireside chat was a discussion between Antigone Davis and James Hairston of Meta and Dr. Lewis Bernstein, formerly of Sesame Workshop. In “Tap into the Metaverse,” the speakers presented a brief explanation of what the metaverse is, the significant opportunities to develop kids’ content and build empathy, and how partnering with organizations can ensure companies build immersive user experiences responsibly and with safety as a key pillar.
The afternoon breakout sessions featured topics on mental health, misinformation, and closing the digital divide. “Promoting Mental Health & Mitigating Self Harm” showcased how social platforms are dealing with complex issues related to the pandemic and social media use for teens. In a discussion called “Facts, Lies & Reality: Addressing False Information Online,” speakers considered the difficulties of combating misinformation online, the history of misinformation before the Internet, constitutional and First Amendment concerns in regulating online speech, plus the responsibility of consumers, policymakers, and tech companies in fighting the spread of misinformation. In the session discussing closing the digital divide, speakers shared the historical context of federal broadband adoption efforts while highlighting what is currently being done in this setting, namely the many consumer, community, and industry programs that work on improving the implementation and accessibility of broadband services.
The penultimate panel of the day addressed “Making the Gaming World Safer Through Research, Parental Controls, and Self-Regulation,” and featured Savannah Badalich of Discord, Linda Norman of Microsoft and Xbox, Stanley Pierre-Louis of the Entertainment Software Association, Katie Salen Tekinbas of UC Irvine, and was moderated by digital parenting expert Dr. Elizabeth Milovidov. The discussion included an overview of the gaming regulatory landscape and how the age and content rating system operates, plus recent research into the benefits of gaming and online connectivity and a view of the parental and user safety controls.
The final panel of Recovery & Renewal considered how to create a path to a new normal. With Laura Higgins of Roblox as moderator, Australia’s eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant, The Diana Award’s Tessy Ojo CBE, Oxford Internet Institute’s Dr. Andrew Przybylski, and clinical psychologist Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair discussed the benefits and challenges of our current hybrid lives while tackling the importance of research to inform policymaking and parental guidance, regulatory feasibility and practicality, the mental health challenges facing kids and families, and the strategies used to mitigate the harms while reaping the many rewards of our digital lives.
Full videos of all plenary and breakout sessions are available on FOSI’s YouTube channel.
Click to view our online commemorative photobook.
Thank you to our sponsors:
Dr. Alison Bryant
Dr. Sameer Hinduja
NOVEMBER 15, 2021
Exhibit Booths & Networking
Welcome & Opening Remarks
- Caroline Curtin, Director, Government Affairs, Microsoft and Chair, FOSI
- Stephen Balkam, Family Online Safety Institute
Launch of “Managing the Narrative: Young People’s Use of Online Safety Tools” Research Report
- David Krane, The Harris Poll
- Jessica Massay, The Harris Poll
Plenary Panel - First Look: Experts React to New FOSI Research
Leading experts will reflect on the findings of FOSI’s new research report and discuss the implications for industry, educators, parents, and all stakeholders working to keep young people safe online. Panelists will delve into key highlights from the study, and discuss the importance of ongoing research into the experiences of teens and young people to better understand their online safety needs.
- Dr. Ellen Selkie, University of Wisconsin (Moderator)
- Jacqueline Beauchere, Snap, Inc.
- David Krane, The Harris Poll
- Amanda Lenhart, Data & Society Research Institute
Plenary Panel - Setting the Scene: Psychological Wellbeing & Resilience
The expanded use of technology in daily life more than a year after the beginning of the pandemic has highlighted both the positive and negative aspects of our digital lives. How do we stay connected while also achieving a healthy balance - and most importantly, how do we instill these skills in our children? Experts will discuss reflections from the past year, and strategies for moving forward with balance and resilience.
- Dr. Richard Graham, Good Thinking: The London Digital Mental Wellbeing Service (Moderator)
- Dr. Nusheen Ameenuddin, The Mayo Clinic
- Tiffany Shlain, Author & Filmmaker
- Rosalind Wiseman, Cultures of Dignity
Technology's Positive Role in Child Development
Technology can play a positive role in child development when created thoughtfully and used in moderation. How has Amazon supported families during the last year when so many of us relied on technology to connect and learn? Discover how Amazon Kids approaches product development and privacy in their new products.
- Stephen Balkam, Family Online Safety Institute
- Karen Ressmeyer, Amazon
- Dr. Michael Rich, Digital Wellness Lab
International Implications: COPPA Updates and the Age Appropriate Design Code
The US is working on both legislative and regulatory updates to COPPA, attempting to bring the 23 year old law into the modern digital environment. Meanwhile, the UK has enacted and begun to enforce a wide-ranging statutory code that prioritizes the best interests of the child and requires high privacy settings to be on by default. Both of these updates have immense global implications and have understandably reignited the conversation around children’s online safety across many areas. Our international panel will discuss these updates and their impact on the global online safety environment.
- Tim Sparapani, SPQR Strategies (Moderator)
- Julie Dawson, Yoti
- Anna Lenhart, Office of U.S. Congresswoman Lori Trahan
- Michael Murray, ICO
- Amelia Vance, Future of Privacy Forum
Talking to Parents About Screen Time & Digital Overload
Parents and grandparents face the constant challenge of keeping up with their families’ digital lives, managing their safety, and ensuring that they benefit from all the opportunities the Internet has to offer. Panelists will discuss what it means to create a digital parenting strategy, to assess and manage screen time effectively, and how to balance social activity, entertainment, and education when it comes to tech use at home.
- Catherine Teitelbaum, Amazon (Moderator)
- Allison Bryant, AARP
- Kristelle Lavallee Collins, Digital Wellness Lab
- Laura Tierney, The Social Institute
Industry Solutions: New Adventures in Online Safety Tools
Industry leaders will share the top advancements from the past year of strategy and innovation around keeping kids safe online. From educational efforts to the design of technical tools and features, hear from top companies as they discuss which approaches work best when it comes to prioritizing safety, raising awareness, and planning for the future.
- Andrew Zack, Family Online Safety Institute (Moderator)
- Shanta Arul, Netflix
- Tom Le, Mattel
- Marco Leal, Smith Micro
- Ryan Toohil, Aura
Gathering the Evidence: Latest Research and Insights
This panel will review the latest trends in research, and how they help to understand the needs of users. Studying these findings reveals valuable intel about the efficacy of education and awareness raising, and how people of all ages experience their digital lives both practically and personally. Panelists will discuss the importance of creating a strong evidence base to inform the future work of online safety stakeholders.
- Jimmeka Anderson, New America & UNC Charlotte (Moderator)
- Sakshi Ghai, University of Cambridge
- Dr. Sameer Hinduja, Cyberbullying Research Center & FAU
- Dr. Lisa M Jones, University of New Hampshire
Exhibit Booths & Networking
Tap into the Metaverse: A Discussion of Safety and Wellbeing
This fireside chat will feature Meta's Antigone Davis in conversation with James Hairston, Meta and Dr. Lewis Bernstein, Sesame Workshop. The discussion will focus on how we can design safe and inclusive spaces based on lessons learned from the past couple of decades, and explore best practices when it comes to safety and wellbeing in the online world.
- Antigone Davis, Meta (Moderator)
- Dr. Lewis Bernstein, Formerly at Sesame Workshop
- James Hairston, Meta
Promoting Mental Health & Mitigating Self Harm
Panelists will discuss the changes they’ve seen as mental health has come more into focus on social platforms in recent years. Topics will include technical solutions such as content moderation practices, ongoing education and the promotion of tools meant to support users, and other strategies to promote positivity and mitigate mental and physical health risks in online spaces.
- David Sullivan, Digital Trust & Safety Partnership (Moderator)
- Amit Dar, Active Fence
- Dan Fichter, The Trevor Project
- Victoria McCullough, TikTok
- Dr. Shairi Turner, Crisis Text Line
Facts, Lies & Reality: Addressing False Information Online
The challenge of navigating an increase in disinformation and misinformation on social platforms has become a key topic of the past year. Where does responsibility lie between consumers and tech companies when it comes to staying informed and combating the spread of false or misleading information?
- Larry Irving, Irving Group (Moderator)
- Neil Chilson, Stand Together
- Patricia Lepiani, The Idea Marketing
- Todd O’Boyle, Twitter
Education & Access: Strategies to Close the Digital Divide
One of the biggest challenges highlighted by the pandemic and prolonged use of virtual learning has been the homework gap and overall lack of access to the Internet. What approaches to solving this problem have shown promising results? What are the opportunities and responsibilities for industry, advocates, and policymakers when it comes to ensuring that young people have what they need to succeed academically, and throughout their lives in a digital landscape?
- Dr. Nicol Turner-Lee, Author (Moderator)
- Keyla Hernandez-Ulloa, FCC
- Broderick Johnson, Comcast
- Antonio Tijerino, Hispanic Heritage Foundation
- John Windhausen, Jr., Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition
Plenary Panel: Making the Gaming World Safer Through Research, Parental Controls, and Self-Regulation
Video games have played an especially important role over the past year and a half for facilitating social interaction, learning, and of course, entertainment. This panel will cover issues such as current research into video games, innovative online safety features including parental controls, content moderation, and user reporting, as well as industry self-regulation and the age-rating system.
- Dr. Elizabeth Milovidov, Family Online Safety Institute (Moderator)
- Savannah Badalich, Discord
- Linda Norman, Microsoft & Xbox
- Stanley Pierre-Louis, Entertainment Software Association
- Katie Salen Tekinbas, UC-Irvine
Plenary Panel: Creating a Path to a New Normal
The final discussion of the day will look ahead to the future of online safety, and how we can leverage the tough lessons of the last several years into positive change. Panelists will explore how the global tech community can continue to work together to elevate the many benefits of connected life, while proactively mitigating harm.
- Laura Higgins, Roblox (Moderator)
- Julie Inman Grant, Australia's eSafety Commissioner
- Tessy Ojo CBE, The Diana Award
- Dr. Andrew Przybylski, Oxford Internet Institute
- Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair, Clinical Psychologist
Stephen Balkam, Family Online Safety Institute
Happy Hour - Networking and Exhibits
Exhibit Booths & Networking