List of Workshops Reports 2009
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Workshop Report 2009


Workshop Number: 277

Workshop Title: Internet Governance, Activating and Listening to the Voice of Teens

Report by: Lucinda Fell

Workshop description and list of panelists:
Panelists:

Lucinda Fell, Childnet International
Ellen Ferguson, Childnet International
Mohammed Fathy, Cyber Peace Initiative
Youth Panel taken from the SMWIPM Youth Camp
Andrew Miller, MP
Alun Michael, MP
Karim Al-Fateh, Intel

The workshop was convened by Childnet International and the Cyber Peace Initiative to communicate two methods of how to promote Internet governance and safety awareness with teens. The aim of the workshop was met through analysing the processes adopted in two national projects, featuring two different models of youth participation and engagement and to model best practice sharing key observations to aid other delegates in replicating similar projects in future years.

The workshop also placed at its heart an International team of ‘teen youth panelists’ from the Cyber Peace Initiative’s Youth Camp who shared what their experiences of Internet Governance were, covering the themes of access, openness, security, diversity, rights and digital citizenship, The camp also coincided with the special importance given to teens’ involvement and empowerment, as a capacity building effort to form future savvy young cadres in internet issues and safety concerns.

The youth panel were active participants in the session bringing a fresh and challenging perspective to the topics of discussion and an honesty and openness about how various technologies are used.

The actors involved in the field; various initiatives that people can connect with, and contacts for further information:
Both Childnet International and the Cyber Peace Initiative are continuing to engage with young people on the topic of Internet Governance.

Childnet’s Youth IGF Project YouTube channel is regularly updated with news and views from young people on the topic of Internet Governance detailing their experiences and will shortly contain video feedback from the IGF itself. This can be accessed at: http://www.youtube.com/YouthIGFProject

The Cyber Peace Initiative’s web site www.cyberpeaceinitiative.org includes a variety of activities conducted with young people.

The key contacts to discuss either of the partner’s approaches are Lucinda Fell - lucinda@childnet.com and Mohammed Fathy - mfathy@womenforpeaceinternational.org, mfathy@mcit.gov.eg

A brief substantive summary and the main issues that were identified:
With just 1 ½ hours to conduct the session in, it was important to set the scene and to outline the best practice identified and achieved by the partners. Both partners showed engaging and comprehensive presentations, and prior to moving on to the discussions with the youth panel, Childnet showed a video communicating the voice of youth in the UK which was representative of the 1,500 plus young people who were engaged in the UK as part of the Youth IGF Project.

Hearing the voice of youth on film led into presentations from 7 pre-selected youth panellists who gave two minute statements on their experience of Internet Governance.

The participants covered different aspects of Internet Governance and agreed that taking part in the Cyber Peace Initiative’s IGF 2009 Youth Camp had given them the opportunity to question themselves on the topics which they had not previously done and also to share the experience of young people in their country.

Following the presentations the discussions were varied and the issues that were covered in particular included different online experiences, internet rights and responsibilities, privacy and disparity and access and representation.

The participants felt that children and young people should be afforded the same rights online and offline and that there shouldn’t be a distinction between these rights. They highlighted the right to an Internet that represents them and their culture. They acknowledged that there were many young people globally who weren’t able to access the Internet and that they believed this should be addressed. As well as discussing rights, the notion of online responsibilities were also discussed and just as it was acknowledged that rights should be consistent both online and offline, there was an acceptance that offline laws such as copyright should also be respected online.

The contradiction between the desire expressed by young people for freedom and their belief that they have an automatic right to be safe was discussed. The phenomenon of social networking was widely discussed, and a number of the concerns raised under the discussions on security centred on concerns regarding the privacy of information. The youth participants outlined their concerns about social networking and the issue of privacy, but also the potential for these sites to be used in communicating key messages to other young people and the fears and lack of understanding that sometimes accompanying internet use.

The workshop heard from the young people that while very often they are held up as the experts in this field, and undoubtedly they do have a degree of expertise that is instinctive, this is also a new environment for young-people and very often they too are learning on the job. However, the youth panellists agreed that while young people may have not engaged widely on the topic of Internet governance in the past - they do want to continue to engage in the future of the IGF. They also stated that the burden for engagement and youth participation should not rest on youth alone and that parents and teachers also need to be more informed about the Internet experiences of young people and they called for greater participation in the IGF from the user perspective.


Conclusions and further comments:
The youth participants felt that moving forward young people should be integrated into the heart of the IGF, and would like to see youth representatives on the various IGF committees. They sought real action and input following the session and an insight into strategy discussions, both at the IGF and also with the Internet industry.

The chair’s concluding remarks from the session reiterated the mile-stone that had been reached in including young people in the discussions at the IGF, but proposed that this is just the start in working towards the meaningful inclusion of young people in the IGF process. There was a commitment from those present in the session to continue to progress the work of youth inclusion in discussions around this topic leading up to the IGF 2010 in Vilnius with the golden aim to be to get the voice of youth heard from the main stage.

...End of Report...

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