What to expect from the event
The Safer Internet Forum (SIF) is a key annual international conference in Europe where policymakers, researchers, law enforcement bodies, youth, parents and caregivers, 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.
This year’s edition will take place in a hybrid* format on Thursday, 23 November 2023 with a theme of Empowering YOUth with skills for the Digital Decade.
The European Union has designated 2023 as the European Year of Skills: a year which “puts skills centre-stage”, highlighting the critical importance of equipping people with the competences they need to succeed in an increasingly digitised world. This designation seeks to support the EU’s ambitious Digital Decade plans for 80 per cent of all adults to have basic digital skills by 2030. The subsequent European Declaration on Digital Rights and Principles for the Digital Decade set out a specific priority that “Children and young people should be protected and empowered online”. As part of this communication, the European institutions commit to “providing opportunities to all children to acquire the necessary skills and competences to navigate the online environment actively, safely and make informed choices when online.”
Furthermore, the EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child is a major policy initiative put forward by the European Commission to better protect all children, to help them fulfil their rights and to place them right at the centre of EU policymaking. The European strategy for a better internet for kids (also known as the BIK+ strategy) represents its digital arm and is built around three key pillars:
Safe digital experiences to protect children from harmful and illegal online content, conduct, contact and risks as young consumers and to improve their well-being online through a safe, age-appropriate digital environment, created in a way that respects children’s best interests.
Digital empowerment so all children, including those in situations of vulnerability, acquire the necessary skills and competences to make sound choices and express themselves in the online environment safely and responsibly.
Active participation, respecting children by giving them a say in the digital environment, with more child-led activities to foster innovative and creative safe digital experiences.
Throughout 2023 we will increasingly see the impact of the Digital Services Act (DSA), a new set of European rules to make sure that all users, and especially children, young people and vulnerable users, are included and safe online. Moreover, the DSA seeks to ensure that all organisations that provide online platforms and services protect the rights of all users, limit risks, and stop the spread of harmful or illegal content. Alongside this, under the BIK+ strategy, a comprehensive EU Code of Conduct on age-appropriate design is being developed, which will build on the regulatory framework provided in the DSA and assist with its implementation to ensure the privacy, safety and security of young users online.
Within the framework of the European Year of Skills and these other policy provisions, Safer Internet Forum 2023 will specifically focus on pillars two and three of the BIK+ strategy, exploring digital empowerment and active participation/respect as it relates to children and young people. The Forum will seek to discuss and showcase initiatives related to the development of digital skills for children, parents and teachers, while also paying particular attention to the needs of vulnerable users.
The event is being organised in a youth-led manner, with young people playing an active role in the planning, preparation and delivery of the Forum.
* As noted above, this will be a hybrid event. While we are only able to accommodate an invited audience in person in Brussels, Belgium on this occasion, we welcome wide attendance online from all with an interest in creating a safer and better internet for children and young people.