UNICEF and Twitter held a special consultation on digital literacy and activism with 50 teenagers in Dublin this week. The group was invited to Twitter EMEA HQ to work on solutions to the challenges arising from the influence of digital on young people.
At the #DigitalYouth17 event, Transition Year students from across Ireland joined industry leaders from Twitter and digital influencers including social media superstar James Kavanagh.
Young people all over the world are growing up in a digital age, the impact of which has yet to be fully understood. While this presents challenges, it also offers enormous opportunities for young people in education and activism and in connecting them with like-minded individuals worldwide.
Teenagers at the event talked about digital divides that have opened up globally, while Twitter offered insight into digital literacy, the importance of maintaining a good online reputation and how to verify trustworthy sources in an online space. The day was themed around harnessing the opportunities of digital while recognising that vulnerable young digital users need to be protected.
The group also heard from young digital activists about how social media platforms can be used to achieve change in the world, including vlogger Sean Downey and entrepreneur Elle Loughran.
According to Sinead McSweeney, managing director of Twitter Ireland: “This collaborative partnership with UNICEF Ireland is a recognition of the importance that Twitter places in promoting digital literacy education and positive digital citizenship. With events like #DigitalYouth17, Twitter is committed to helping students engage with an increasingly diverse online environment, while empowering them to use digital platforms when they feel compelled to speak out on issues they’re passionate about.
“We have developed an Educators’ Guide to give teachers the confidence to bring Twitter into the classroom and enrich the school experience, including information on account security and safety. It is of great importance that young people develop critical media skills. Digital literacy should be built into our approach to education and be a core topic in schooling. As online tools become more ubiquitous, it is vital that we build resilience, a critical eye and digital literacy in students so they have the skills to successfully navigate the modern world.”
Executive Director of UNICEF Ireland, Peter Power: “UNICEF protects and promotes children’s rights all over the world. In Ireland, we make policy recommendations to ensure Irish children get the best opportunities in life. Involving young people in that process is crucial, because we believe they should be given every opportunity to influence their own futures.”