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Net Children 2020- Creating a Roadmap

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I have a Professional Doctorate in Leadership in Children and Young People's Services and my focus area is unsanctioned connections between young people and youth work practitioners online. I am a professionally qualified youth and community worker and my starting point is always what are the expressed needs of young people and how can I support them. I teach on youth work and child and adolescent studies degrees- both undergraduate and post graduate.

I was fortunate to be invited to Net Children 2020 an expert conference organised by the Hans Bredow Institute for Media Research and the  German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth. This took place on 16 and 17 April 2015 in Berlin.

This was less a conference but rather a working group to attempt to create a roadmap for children and young people's use of media within Europe. In fact the event, and also the subsequent roadmap are titled 'Net Children 2020:   Growing up with Media A Roadmap on Challenges and Solutions for Media Education and Child Protection in Europe'.

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Conference documentation

 

The event followed the currently oft used world cafe style of brainstorming. Participants were able to pre-register to one of three key areas that were pre-identified in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). These three key areas are:

  • Provision
  • Protection
  • Participation

These are also the three key areas that the final roadmap will address. I identified the provision strand to contribute to, as my research interests are in  the area of informal education and connecting with practitioners within online social network spaces. On the first day, tables were set up in three different rooms in order to brainstorm and work towards ideas, issues, considerations and solutions under a number of set considerations under each key area.

Within the provision stream, four world cafe tables were available, each facilitating different discussions:

Table 1 Topic: Coping with different interests during different age groups

Table 2 Topic: Learning in digital environments

Table 3 Topic: Encouraging creative media use

Table 4 Topic: Positive content provision and access

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Notes from the Learning in Digital Environments table

 

Due to my research expertise I was asked to host the table on 'Learning in Digital Environments'. The key points discussed at my table were recorded so as to be considered on the second day but also for writing the ultimate roadmap after this event.

On the Friday we attempted to address some of the key issues and concerns raised. This time the rooms for the three key areas were organised according to what type of interest people represented; policy, research, companies or NGO's and users.

From the research strand, a key theme identified was the need for more participatory research with young people. A key insight for myself and others at this event was the total lack of input from children and young people. Who were speaking on behalf of those that we were creating a roadmap for?  This therefore felt as if the protection area was the driving force for the two days. Children and young people were seen as in need of protection rather than as true contributors of content as well as the creators of online spaces used by young people.

The event ended with a vision of how to improve digital media environments for children and young people in Europe by 2020. Contributions over the two days are now being used to work on the next stage of the Roadmap and this will be available end May 2015. I will post some comments on it as soon as it is released.

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