Dialogue with children as a means to create positive content

On March 1-5, Moscow hosted the fifth Information Security and Children national scientific and practical conference in a mixed offline and online format. It focused on education and socialization in the digital era.

The conference was organized by the Academy of Innovative Education and Development, the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences and the Moscow Economic Institute, with the support of the Russian Ministry of Education and the Coordination Center for TLD .RU/.РФ.

Taking part in the conference were senior executives and experts on education, science, culture, communications, telecommunications, information security and digital economy; representatives of federal and municipal authorities in charge of youth policies; psychologists and social workers; heads of children’s, school and other specialized media; members of public organizations; businesspeople; and parents.

Participants attended roundtable discussions and practical sections to discuss the regulatory and legal support of information security for children and youth audiences, global cyber threats and methods of combating them in cyberspace, fostering a culture of information security and critical thinking, and using media education to create a positive information space and fill it with content.

Andrey Vorobyev, director of the Coordination Center for TLD .RU/.РФ, spoke at the conference plenary session about the center’s educational projects aimed at forming digital immunity for children and teenagers, such as the Study the Internet & Govern It interactive educational project, the supplement to the Vneshkolnik magazine that publishes research on children’s internet, and examples of game tasks, quizzes, apps, the Study the Internet & Govern It championships, the IT&IP LAW competition of scientific papers on ICT law and intellectual property, and the Internet Governance Summer School.

“Children should begin learning about the structure of the internet and ways to influence its development in school. The Coordination Center focuses a lot on children, teenagers, students and young scientists, because we seek more active involvement of Russian youth in discussing internet development. We try to create, among other things, human resources to participate in international organizations and initiatives. This is the only way to make our ideas heard,” Andrey Vorobyev stressed.

Andrey Vorobyev announced the start of the fifth Russian Family IT Marathon, which will be held online on March 2–April 30, as well as the first Youth Internet Governance Forum, which Skoltech will host on April 6, 2021.

Experts taking part in the plenary session also talked about creating a secure information environment, digital socialization and human adaptation to our reality changing due to information technologies.

For example, Galina Soldatova, professor of psychology at Lomonosov Moscow State University and director of the Internet Development Foundation, said that today almost every other person on Earth belongs to the digital generation, which is becoming more influential and whose opinion can no longer be ignored.

“This gives rise to a new-normal hypothesis, which implies a change in the usual perception of the surrounding reality. Digital transformation is the main trend in the economy, lifestyle, society and culture today,” she said. This means that for today’s children and adolescents, especially during the pandemic, hyperconnectivity (spending long amounts of time online) and living in a mixed reality, when the difference between online and offline is erased, have become typical. This leads to increased content and communication risks.

“First of all, cyber aggression, oversharing (from parents as well), and exposure to negative content are growing,” Galina Soldatova added.

On March 4, Viktoria Bunchuk and Tatyana Novikova, project managers of the Coordination Center, spoke at the section “Positive content: Ways to create and distribute it.”

The section opened with a presentation by Urvan Parfentyev, coordinator of the Safer Internet Center and leading analyst at ROCIT, on the criteria of positive content developed by the Working Group on Children’s Information Security under the Commissioner for Children’s Rights. These criteria can be used both for quality assessment and content creation online, in video and print. According to the criteria, positive content may include educational, communicative and entertaining (with learning elements) resources, which must also be relevant and appropriate. The design, user-friendliness and logical structure are also important. The content should be safe, free from vulnerabilities and ensure reliable protection of users’ personal data.

Tatyana Novikova shared examples of positive content. She talked about the mission and projects in the .ДЕТИ domain, which promote media and digital literacy among internet beginners. For example, two good websites that teach safe browsing are персональныеданные.дети, developed by the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor), and касперский.дети from Kaspersky, the well-known developer of antivirus solutions. A website with children’s book recommendations, библиогид.дети, and the website of Russia’s main children’s library, библиотека.дети, educate and teach critical thinking and ways to work with information. It is important that all websites in the .ДЕТИ domain are connected to a monitoring system that makes it possible to identify and quickly eliminate vulnerabilities and negative content on these websites, so .ДЕТИ always remains a positive space.

The Coordination Center initiated the creation of this internet zone for children’s and teenagers’ websites and also co-founded the Smart Internet Foundation, which manages the .ДЕТИ domain.

Viktoria Bunchuk presented the Study the Internet & Govern It project run by the Coordination Center with support from Rostelecom. It consists of an interactive website with educational games, a quiz with 300 entertaining questions on the internet and digital technologies, an app with tests, and an internet dictionary. The platform regularly holds online tournaments and championships on digital literacy.

“Our recommendations on how to fill the internet with positive content are to create as much of it as possible by teaming up with partners and, as the speakers have said, with children and teenagers. For example, we are working together with schoolchildren and students to develop scenarios for educational games of the Study the Internet & Govern It project as part of the School of Real-World Projects. Young users are always up to date and know exactly what topic is trending in the digital world. They help us keep up with the times and, most importantly, see the project through their eyes, so that it is always interesting,” Viktoria Bunchuk said.

Videos of the roundtable discussions from the conference are available on Vneshkolnik’s official YouTube channel.

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