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Children and the use of ICTs: Who can parents trust?

I have just returned from the Safer Internet Forum 2013 (SIF) which, like last year, was held in Brussels. It is an event that the European Commission holds every year and which brings together young people, parents and teachers as well as industry and other leading organizations involved in education and social issues

One of the objectives of this forum is to identify what to do in order to have a “better Internet” and a “safer Internet”, raise awareness of the importance of avoiding misuse, identify trends and improve understanding of how online technologies will impact the future of our young people, in the way they learn, interact and act

The event featured very young speakers.  Again, some of the children and adolescents who make up the youth panels led by the national nodes of Insafe, participated in some of the roundtable discussions and also gave outstanding presentations. What struck me was one of the girls who forcefully asserted that she knew more about the Internet than adults.  And this is true in that this is the idea that we as adults convey to them with sentences like:  “Children are digital natives while adults are digital immigrants”. I myself have used it several times.  But the retort by the writer and entrepreneur Andreu Keen was very appropriate. He stated that they will know more about the use of the Internet, but not about how the Internet business operates and that this was very important in order to make proper use of it. And Keen dared to predict that within 25 years, some things in our environment will have disappeared, such as the music industry, newspapers or advertising agencies, and even the concept of privacy, private life or individuality, which made us all reflect.

The panel on which I participated, dealing with projects involving public-private partnerships, the question was raised regarding the type of organizations which they most trusted for informing their children about the use of ICTs and they specifically opted for this type of partnership. This prompted me to explain in detail how the Interactive Generations Forum is working on developing an interactive platform for Telefónica, in which, in addition to updated information about the Internet, mobiles, video games, apps and television, articles by renown writers, surveys, etc. will be offered.  In order to keep it continuously updated, it has joined forces with the European School net project, which will propose current event topics every month, including videos, websites or games targeted at three age groups (up to 8 years, from 9 to 12 and from 13 and older) so that parents can help them in the use of ICTs.  And finally, we have put together a panel of experts to advise us on the editorial line that we should follow, current event topics as well as the usefulness of information that we are providing.  We hope to be able to share all this content with you shortly.

Until the next SIF in 2014!

This post was originally published in the Sustainability and CR blog of Telefónica in Spanish.

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Chema Alonso

Chief Data Officer, Telefonica.