Read the online version | ISSN 2600-5360
  12/2022  
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Better Internet for Kids bulletin

Your quarterly update on creating a safer and better internet

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In this issue
Editorial

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Welcome to the 32nd edition of the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) bulletin. This quarterly bulletin aims to keep you informed of safer and better internet issues and opportunities across Europe and beyond. In each edition, we bring you a mix of news, research and resources from many of the key stakeholders in keeping children and young people safe online, be they European Safer Internet Centres (SICs), research organisations, industry partners, policymakers or other experts in the field.

In each edition of the BIK bulletin, we explore some topical issues. For this edition, we're looking back at the main highlights of the year.

A particular highlight of 2022 was the launch of the new European strategy for a Better Internet for Kids (otherwise known as BIK+). Adopted in May 2022, this key strategy strives to improve age-appropriate digital services and to ensure that every child is protected, empowered and respected online.

Linked to the launch of the BIK+ strategy, we reflect back on the recent youth-led edition of the Safer Internet Forum (SIF) and other activities to amplify young voices in the 2022 European Year of Youth.

As many of us head into the winter break, we bring you some seasonal tips for staying safe online, along with news and resources from the European network of Safer Internet Centres and other stakeholders in the field. And, as many of you will no doubt be gifting tech to young people this year, make sure to also have open conversations about safe and responsible behaviours online. Be especially aware of some of the commercial risks of being online for children and young people; read our consumer Roundtable roundup to learn more.

And, finally, we also look forward to Safer Internet Day (SID) 2023, which is now less than two months away. We invite you to celebrate this landmark 20th edition with us wherever you are across the globe.

If you have any comments on this resource or would like to contribute to a future edition of the BIK bulletin, please contact us.

Image credit: Better Internet for Kids/Safer Internet Day

Progress on BIK+
Reflecting back on the first months of BIK+

In the June 2022 edition of the BIK bulletin, we introduced you to the new European strategy for a Better Internet for Kids, otherwise known as BIK+.

Adopted by the European Commission in May 2022, the strategy builds on previous work to improve age-appropriate digital services and to ensure that every child is protected, empowered and respected online. As we head towards the end of 2022, we update you on several recent activities and initiatives which will ensure progress towards the strategy's aims and provide a roadmap for ongoing work in 2023.

Safer Internet Forum 2022

Safer Internet Forum (SIF) took place in a hybrid format in Brussels, Belgium and online on Thursday, 27 October 2022. This year’s edition was extra special, because it was a youth-led event, with young people playing an active role in the planning, preparation, and delivery of the Forum.

The Safer Internet Forum is a key annual international conference in Europe where policymakers, researchers, law enforcement bodies, youth, parents and carers, teachers, NGOs, industry representatives, experts and other relevant actors come together to discuss the latest trends, opportunities, risks, and solutions related to child online safety and making the internet a better place.

To kick off this youth-led edition, we asked young people – from across and beyond the European Union – to share their thoughts on the Better Internet for Kids strategy (BIK+).

Thumbnail of the YouTube video featuring young people's messages for Safer Internet Forum 2022

(watch the video on YouTube at https://youtu.be/vCZLHmyvMFw)

Following that, Hans Martens from European Schoolnet and SIF Youth Advisory Group member Manahil from Germany took to the stage and welcomed everyone. This was followed by a video address by Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Internal Market, and Commissioner Dubravka Šuica, Vice-President for Democracy and Demography.

Read the full article on Safer Internet Forum here. Additionally, read the full Safer Internet Forum 2022 report for more, and access videos and presentations from the event on the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) portal.

Child-friendly version of the BIK+ strategy – now available in multiple languages

The child-friendly version of the new European strategy for a Better Internet for Kids (BIK+) is now available for free download in all EU languages (and beyond) via the Publications Office of the European Union.

You can access the English version, as well as all the other linguistic versions, by opening the "Download and languages" drop-down menu. It is also possible to order printed copies of the document directly from the Publications Office website via the “Print on demand” service. Only production and delivery fees will be charged, the publication itself is free.

Find information about the BIK+ strategy, more generally, on the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) portal.

Special group on the EU Code of conduct on age-appropriate design – open for applications

As a key action under the new BIK+ strategy, the European Commission will facilitate a comprehensive EU Code of conduct on age-appropriate design ("the Code"). The Code will build on the regulatory framework provided in the Digital Services Act (DSA) and assist with its implementation, and will be in line with the EU's Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

In particular, the group will assist in:

  1. collecting relevant resources (reports, opinions, analysis and other documents and material) regarding existing codes, guidelines, recommendations and policies on age-appropriate design;
  2. drafting the Code;

  1. establishing a monitoring system for the Code, including key performance indicators (KPIs) and a baseline.

The Code aims to reinforce the involvement of industry in protecting children when using digital products, with the ultimate goal of ensuring their privacy, safety and security online. Industry, civil society, and academia are invited to take part in the process through an ad hoc special group. The group is expected to operate until the Code is adopted by relevant signatories.

Find more information on the European Commission website. The call for expressions of interest is now open and will close on Wednesday, 11 January 2023.

Roundtable roundup

In the last edition of the BIK bulletin, we reported on September's Roundtable on child and youth consumer protection in digital markets. Organised with both the New Consumer Agenda (published in 2020) and the new European strategy for a Better Internet for Kids (BIK+) (published in May 2022) in mind, this online event sought to place a spotlight on how consumerism can impact children and young people's online experiences. As many young people may be receiving or accessing more tech over the festive period, it pays to be aware of the key consumer risks.

In her keynote speech, Prof Dr Eva Lievens set the scene for the panel discussions by identifying a number of consumer risks faced by children and youth online, and by exploring which regulatory initiatives are being put in place to address these risks. Children and youth are avid users of both social media platforms and video games. While the digital environment has great potential for play, entertainment and creativity, the commercial stakes are high and different monetisation strategies are deployed, many of which are difficult to detect for children. The lines between different types of online content and services (editorial/commercial, videogaming/gambling) are becoming increasingly blurred, and these are accompanied by a plethora of commercial practices that have led to a new type of consumer risk for children in the digital environment. Here, Professor Lievens highlighted that several children’s rights could be potentially violated due to these practices.

Strong legal frameworks are important in order to prevent and remedy this. The EU legal framework includes different instruments that are potentially applicable, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Audiovisual Media Service Directive (AVMSD), or the newly adopted Digital Services Act (DSA), but the interplay between these instruments is not always entirely clear.

Professor Lievens focused on three practices which are specifically relevant within the digital environment: influencer marketing, loot boxes and dark patterns.

Firstly, influencer marketing is an extremely popular marketing strategy on platforms such as TikTok and Instagram. Influencers are perceived by children as relatable, accessible and credible and, as such, are ideal to influence children’s consumption behaviour. Influencers sometimes use controversial content (for example, glamourising gambling or drug use) to generate views and revenues, and the content they produce contains both editorial and commercial content, making it difficult for children to use their advertising literacy skills. A wide variety of (legal) instruments can be applied to this practice, such as advertising (self-) regulation, media law, consumer protection, data protection law, and even labour law.

Secondly, loot boxes are mystery boxes containing randomised virtual items that are obtained either through gameplay or by purchasing them with real money. Due to its close resemblance to gambling, the European Commission has stated that the presence of paid random content should be clearly disclosed to the consumer, including an explanation of the probabilities of receiving a random item, and that the sale of loot boxes in video games must comply with the information obligations under the Consumer Rights Directive and the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive.

Thirdly, dark patterns refer to techniques incorporated in the design or structure of websites, platforms or apps that make users/consumers do things or take decisions that they did not mean to. These patterns use a variety of techniques, such as visually designing buttons to make the desired option more attractive, using trick questions and ambiguous language, creating an artificial sense of urgency for the user, or using emotional language to discourage certain choices. Studies have found that these techniques can lead to financial or other harm for children and youth, especially considering the susceptibility of children to behaviour-altering practices.

Read the full roundtable report (which includes a four-page executive summary and key priorities for social media and gaming platforms) on the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) portal.

BIK Youth
SIF Youth Advisory Group

In preparation for the 2022 edition of the Safer Internet Forum (SIF), a group of ten young people from various European countries were invited to participate in preparatory meetings aimed at sharing their respective views on three main pillars of the new BIK+ strategy, and further contribute to the development of Forum’s agenda.

Read more about the SIF Youth Advisory Group and meet its members.

The BIK Youth Panel 2022

On the day before Safer Internet Forum (SIF) 2022, 27 youth panellists from 18 European countries met in Brussels at the BIK Youth Panel, an annual event which always precedes the SIF. During this time, the young people finalised their awareness materials and rehearsed their performance for the Forum.

The BIK Youth Panel meetings kicked off during the summer of 2022 when young people gathered online and further divided into three groups focusing on their preferred area of work: being part of a musical performance, organising a catwalk show and developing supporting materials, or brainstorming on pertinent issues.

At the Forum, held in a hybrid format in Brussels and online on Thursday, 27 October 2022, the young people led discussions on cyberbullying, consumer rights, age verification, non-consensual image sharing, and other topics. This year, the BIK Youth panel also performed a musical surprise – a song, With or Without You – that left a big impression on both the onsite and online audience.

To give you a flavour of the BIK Youth Panel preparatory days and the BIK Youth Panel performance at the Safer Internet Forum, see the BIK Youth Panel 2022 – Behind the scenes video.

(watch the video on YouTube at https://youtu.be/wcLmZ5ygZfo)

You can also learn more about the young people's work in the full Safer Internet Forum (SIF) 2022 report.

Additional youth participation activities in the European Year of Youth

Youth participation activities have always been at the heart of the BIK Youth programme. Lately, marking the European Year of Youth, the #DigitalDecade4YOUth! consultation, and the launch of the new BIK+ strategy, youth participation and involvement has taken a more prominent role. Examples of additional youth actions in recent months include:

The 14th European Forum on the Rights of the Child

On 27-29 September 2022, BIK Youth Ambassador Prachi took part in the 14th European Forum on the Rights of the Child, expressing her views on the new BIK+ strategy.
Read the full article on the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) portal.

Protection of minors from harmful media

In October 2022, the FSM (Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle Multimedia-Diensteanbieter e. V.) presented its updated report on the protection of minors from harmful media. Kathrin from Germany, a longstanding BIK Youth Ambassador, was invited to contribute to the panel discussion on the report’s results.
Read the full article on the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) portal.

Microsoft’s Council for Digital Good Europe

On 15 November 2022, BIK Youth Ambassadors were invited to take part in a meeting of the “Council for Digital Good Europe” (CDG-E), where they talked about BIK Youth activities and the Safer Internet Forum (SIF), while also giving their views and opinions on various topics such as cyberbullying and digital safety.
Read the full article on the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) portal.

Insafe helplines
Reinforce good cyber-hygiene alongside festive gifting

The Insafe network of helplines collects data about the types of calls received and this is analysed every three months to look at trends, and new and emerging issues. The most recent helpline data covers the period from July to September 2022. There were over 17,500 contacts made to the network which continues the upward trend in the number of people who are reaching out to helplines, as has been the case for the last three years.

Cyberbullying remains the most common reason for contacting a helpline, accounting for 14 per cent of all contacts. Once again, also, there has been a rise in contacts relating to e-crime with this accounting for eight per cent of all contacts. Helplines talked particularly about reports of identity theft and accounts being hacked, especially on social media platforms.

Safer Internet Centres (SICs) are constantly reinforcing the importance of privacy, strong passwords, and good overall cyber-hygiene. At this time of year when children and young people may be receiving new tech over the festive season, be sure to have regular conversations with them about their online use, what you both consider to be appropriate (and inappropriate) conduct online, and where they can seek help when if they have concerns. Search the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) resource gallery for materials, in a range of European languages and for a range of target ages, which will support you with those conversations.

Read more on the latest Insafe helpline statistics on the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) portal.

INHOPE hotlines
The value of parental supervision in prevention

With the festive season upon us, many children and young people will likely receive tech devices as presents. During this season – and all year round – it is important to remember the value of parental supervision in the prevention of online abuse. INHOPE’s mission is to support its member hotlines in the rapid identification and removal of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) from the digital world. In order to reach the goal of an internet free of CSAM, we must not only react to abuse but also focus on preventing abuse before it happens.

Prevention exists in many forms, and different stakeholders can take on different responsibilities in implementing preventative measures. INHOPE regularly highlights the role of industry in developing age-appropriate preventative resources, believing that tech companies bear the power and, therefore, responsibility to create platforms that are safe by design.

However, they are not alone. We are part of an educational ecosystem and, consequently, various actors are responsible for protecting young users from harm online. Parental supervision, in particular, can be key.

Read the full article on the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) portal.

Resources, courses and research
Resources from the network and beyond

School of Responsible Influencing in Croatia

The purpose of this online school by the Croatian Safer Internet Centre is to make influencers and content creators aware of the importance of responsible behaviour in the online world, to raise awareness of the importance of recognising and reporting inappropriate content on the internet, and to recognise the importance of both creating positive online content and creating a positive impact.
Read the full article on the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) portal.

What parents need to know about Discord

While Discord was originally developed to allow video game communities to network, chat, and talk while playing together online, it is increasingly being used beyond that scope and has become quite popular among young people, especially during holiday periods. The German Safer Internet Centre shares tips for parents and carers to make sure their children stay safe while enjoying the app.
Read the full article on the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) portal.

Digizens: a magazine from SaferInternet4Kids’ Youth Panel

Are you looking for a reading recommendation this holiday season? The Greek Safer Internet Centre has created the online magazine “Digizens”. The Greek Youth Panel strongly believes in peer-to-peer learning, and this project aims to promote their knowledge of the digital world to other people of the same age.
Read the full article on the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) portal.

New Cyberbullying Guidance Hub for teachers and school leaders in Ireland

Cyberbullying still is one of the main online safety issues, even in these festive times. For this reason, the Irish Safer Internet Centre created a new  "Cyberbullying  Guidance for Teachers Information  Hub", offering guidance to teachers and school leaders on the issue of  cyberbullying, creating an anti-cyberbullying  culture, and  promoting student’s well-being including when online.
Read the full article on the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) portal.

The Ukrainian Safer Internet Centre supports educational and fun activities for children and youth

While simultaneously facing the war and the massive displacement of those affected by the conflict, the Ukrainian Safer Internet Centre continues to provide educational tools for teachers, psychologists, and youth workers.
Read the full article on the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) portal.

DigiGen project comes to an end after three years of research

It's a wrap for DigiGen! This European research project aimed to develop significant knowledge about how children and young people, a group growing up today which is often referred to as the "Digital Generation", use and are affected by the technological transformations in their everyday lives. After three years of research, the project has now concluded.

The work of DigiGen ran from December 2019 until November 2022, and was conducted by a consortium consisting of nine members across nine different European countries: Austria, Belgium, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Norway, Romania, Spain, and the United Kingdom. The key outcomes from the project include many published working papers and policy briefs presenting the qualitative data from 588 children and young people from 5 to 18 years old and 141 adults (teachers, parents, and so on) to better understand children and young people’s everyday digital realities.

Read more about the DigiGen project on the BIK portal, or visit the DigiGen project website direct.

School bullying management – effective skills for educators: free online course on bullying prevention

While pupils are enjoying their winter break from school, the efforts to build more inclusive school climates and fight bullying at school continue all year long. Are you a teacher, school manager, or education practitioner working with children and youth?

The e-learning course, jointly launched by COFACE Families Europe and the KMOP Education Hub under the European Family Lab - L.I.N.K. Programme, provides useful insights into the causes, expression, and effects of bullying, as well as clear guidelines on how to prevent and tackle bullying in school communities.

Register to take the course here.

Events and campaigns
Safer Internet Day 2023 is less than two months away!

The next edition of Safer Internet Day (SID) will take place on Tuesday, 7 February 2023, when we will again join “Together for a better internet”.

Next year’s edition will also mark the 20th anniversary of the celebration of Safer Internet Day, and special activities are being planned for the occasion. Save the date in your diaries now!

Campaigning activities will start soon, but keep checking the Safer Internet Day website – www.saferinternetday.org – for the latest news and updates.

Safer Internet Day 20th anniversary logo

Image credit: Better Internet for Kids/Safer Internet Day

eSafety Australia shares a gift guide for this holiday season

Did you know, Safer Internet Day is celebrated right across the globe? Although originating as an initiative of the European Union 20 years ago, the reach of Safer Internet Day has grown year-on-year, with approximately 180 countries and territories celebrating previous editions through a global network of Safer Internet Day committees and supporters. Find out more about Safer Internet Day in your country on the campaign website.

In Australia, Safer Internet Day celebrations are led by the Australian Office of the eSafety Commissioner. To help you make smart, safe and secure tech gift choices for children and young people this festive season, they've recently published a gift guide with insights and advice on the latest trends and technology. This year’s guide focuses on new immersive technology and the practical things we can do to minimise harm to the excited young recipients of tech gifts, such as virtual reality (VR) headsets, wearables or haptic-based technologies. Smart toys and devices can help children learn, play and be creative, but how well do these modern technologies protect children, and what should you know before buying?

Read more about the immersive technology gift guide on the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) portal.

ISFE #SeizeTheControls campaign – a resource for parents on responsible gameplay

As the winter holidays are approaching, Safer Internet Day supporter ISFE (the Interactive Software Federation of Europe), Europe’s video games industry's trade association, has launched a series of conversation starters as part of its #SeizeTheControls campaign. These resources aim to help parents and those with parental responsibility practice conversations about online communication, PEGI (Pan-European Game Information), parental controls, and screentime habits, as well as recommendations for parents and guardians on playing video games together with their children this festive season.

Find more information about the #SeizeTheControls campaign here.

And finally...
Goodbye 2022; hello 2023!

We hope that you have enjoyed reading the quarterly Better Internet for Kids (BIK) bulletin during 2022.

We'll be back in 2023 with four fresh new editions in March, June, September and December where we'll especially be reporting on the progress against BIK+ strategy objectives; look out for ways in which you can get involved!

In the meantime, check out past editions of the BIK bulletin for coverage of a range of safer and better internet issues, or browse the BIK Resource gallery or BIK Guide to apps for practical materials on supporting young people when they go online, in a range of languages.

On that note, we wish you all a happy, restful and safe festive season. See you next year!

Under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), the European Commission (EC) has co-funded a range of better/safer internet services, both at the European and the national level. Building on the European Strategy for a Better Internet for Children (BIK strategy) as published in 2012 and the updated BIK+ strategy published in May 2022, the BIK core service platform aims to bring together European stakeholders in the field to work collaboratively in achieving the goal of a better internet for all. In the future, actions will be funded through the Digital Europe Programme. This bulletin is just one of a range of tools and services provided. Keep following us across all BIK communication channels  see links in the header of this email.

The Better Internet for Kids (BIK) bulletin is compiled and issued by the BIK Coordination Team at European Schoolnet (EUN) on behalf of the European Commission. In case of comments or queries, please contact bulletin@betterinternetforkids.eu.

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The European Commission is committed to personal data protection. Any personal data is processed in line with the Regulation (EU) 2018/1725. Please read the BIK bulletin privacy statement.

Visit www.betterinternetforkids.eu for the latest news and information on keeping children and young people safe online.

ISSN 2600-5360, Catalogue number KK-BD-22-004-EN-N.

ISSN: ISSN 2600-5360