Earlier today I went along to the e-Science Institute in Edinburgh to attend the launch of a new project aimed at getting young people talking about policies and laws which affect the Internet, to channel their ideas to the policy makers.
According to the delegate pack, the HUWY (Hub Websites for Youth Participation) project believes that young people are valuable expert stakeholders in current Internet governance issues like:
- child abuse and child safety
- freedom of speech and censorship
- privacy and phishing, security, identity, hacking, e-commerce
- file-sharing and copyright
The project has partners from the UK, Germany, Estonia and the Republic of Ireland, as is sponsored by the European Commission. At this morning’s launch event we heard from some of the partners about the work they are already involved in, including online networks of over 100,000 young media makers in Germany (Jugendpresse Deutschland), platforms to allow young people to have frank discussions about everyday issues (Youth Net), and sites supporting citizenship and digital engagement (Young Scot).
We also saw videos and messages from key officials who were unable to attend the event. Hille Hinsberg (from the Estonian State Chancellory) spoke about the need for bigger take up of engagement opportunities in policy making, saying that all too often it takes a scandal before we are moved to discuss such issues. She praised the value that HUWY will bring to our efforts to listen to young people, finding out what they want to discuss, what their concerns are and, critically, what their solutions are.
In another video, German MEP Matthias Groote spoke about the importance of involving young people, and that the Internet is an essential tool in allowing them to participate actively and creatively. He described the huge potential which we “absolutely have to use”.
Sadly I couldn’t stay for the afternoon, which featured workshops on how young people use the Internet and how we translate engagement into change. Nevertheless, I’m excited about what the project will teach us about engaging with young people and using online platforms to review policies and effect political change.
- An introduction to the HUWY project
- HUWY blog post about the launch event
- To get involved in the UK project, contact Feargal O’Kane at Queen’s University Management School, Belfast.
- For more info about the international project, contact Ella Taylor-Smith at the International Teledemocracy Centre, Edinburgh Napier University