The Mediterranean Sea roars outside my window and the warmth of the sun is different from the wet weather I left behind in Aarhus yesterday…. But now we shall focus on “Promoting Internet Safety Globally – Connecting generation”, which is the title of Insafe’s international conference in Cyprus.

Professionals, researchers and decision-makers from 44 countries are present in the hall and it is both fascinating and interesting to gain an insight into how others work with the online life of children and teens in for example Uganda, China, Brasilia and the Middle East. The program of the day has come to an end and I just felt like sharing some of my experiences.

CfDP/Cyberhus inspires    

I was invited to Cyprus to represent the helplines in EU and to talk about how we meet children and teens at Cyberhus, and how the network of helplines in Insafe functions and works in practice.

This session took place yesterday and was intended to inspire countries that are in the start-up phase or think of establishing a digital helpline. I was given 20 minutes to talk and my focus was primarily on parts of our new statistics, which you can read more about in my colleague Niels Christian’s blog post here (in Danish), and on why I believe that the anonymous, digital counselling is important when working with vulnerable children.

The following lunch was set up as a working lunch, where Armenia, Israel, Lebanon and Cyprus invited me to a meeting in order for them to go deeper into challenges that they experience in the process of establishing their own helplines. Primarily, they were curious about how to use anonymous chat counselling and how to handle approaches about sexual abuse.

They were extremely curious and eager to get started, which among other things led to CfDP holding a workshop for their counsellors later this year.

2020 – The digital future     

The EU Commission, Afonso Ferreira from DG INFSO, held the most interesting presentation of the day and he understood to highlight the objective of the conference, namely, to focus on how to relate to the children and teen’s future lives online. By focusing on digital and technological scenarios in 2020 and by giving a philosophical retrospect of the technological development during the last 100 years, he made a stepping-stone to the “World café discussion” session of the conference.

That was a session that really made me think about our work at Cyberhus and the necessity of continue being curious about how we meet and work with children and young people in the future. Should we offer a stationary digital platform that the children can visit or should we be more pro-active and outreaching – and how? New types of digital platforms etc.

These questions take up much of our time during the weekdays and our co-operation with Noriso – Youth Department, city of Helsinki, Finland, is a great example of that. They focus on developing and think about new digital methods to work with children and teens (you can find further information about that in this blog post (in Danish)). It is important to understand the children’s lives and how online elements influence them in order to make sure that a meeting with the young person, who needs help, is held.           

It is so positive to experience this focus at the conference and I hope the result will be new exciting collaboration partners, new research and pedagogical initiative on a global level.

 

Written by Erroll Marshall

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