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This role play focuses on young people's digital lives and the nature and quality of their digital experiences and will be launched on Safer Internet Day (SID) on 8 February 2011.

This is the second role play of the Pan-EU Youth initiative aiming to have young people speak up on citizenship issues of concern to them and influence matters that affect their lives.

Author / translator Insafe

This role play focuses on young people's digital lives and the nature and quality of their digital experiences and will be launched on Safer Internet Day (SID) on 8 February 2011.

This is the second role play of the Pan-EU Youth initiative aiming to have young people speak up on citizenship issues of concern to them and influence matters that affect their lives.

Apart from the learning arising from the lively discussions triggered by the PlayDecide cards, the objective of each Pan-EU Youth role play is to have young people develop resolutions that will be presented to the European Parliament upon the project's closure.

Created 16 March 2011
Last edited 19 June 2018
Topics Education, Risks & security, Technology

Policy positions

Policy position 1

For this particular role play, participants are invited to create their own policies and decide which they would support, which they would find acceptable, which they would find not acceptable and which they would abstain from.

One example could be: access to all social networking sites should be allowed at school so that children can be taught how to manage risks.

Story cards


I try to reason with him but it’s like I’m talking to a wall, he doesn’t even hear me. He just grunts and says “fine”, but he’s talking on Skype with his best buddy, IM-ing to some girl from school and checking SMSs at the same time. He’s ignoring me most of the time so I just snap and turn into this nagging mommy that no one likes. When I was his age, I was going to school, coming back home, doing my homework and after, if I had any time left, I would hang out with my friends in the skaters’ park. If I wasn’t back inside by 10 PM, I could have kissed my weekly allowance goodbye. I wouldn’t have dreamt of talking back to my father or ignoring him. And it was nice, we were spending most of our free time outside, not so much in front of these computer screens that damage your eyes!

Claire's story

Of course I know everything that’s going on. I mean, I have to, with everything that’s out there. My daughter is 14, so I allowed her to have a Facebook account, because all her friends do...silly and useless, if you ask me, but hey, you gotta keep up with kids today. But I also have an account, I requested her to add me as a friend and I know about every single contact she has in her list. She has a 1 hour limit per day on the Internet and after she uses the computer, I check the web pages she opened. I’m thinking about installing a key logger also. With all these chat applications, MSN, Yahoo Messenger, Facebook chat, you never know who your children might end up talking to.

Damien's story

No one talks to me at school, but I don’t mind much. I spend a lot of time online, on this forum about how to write code. HTML, CC+, I really like it and I get a lot of great advice from older people on the forum. Most of them don’t even know I’m 15 and they treat me as one of their own. I even helped solving several bugs and the guys thanked me. It felt really nice to be appreciated.

Thomas' story

I am so upset right now. I had lots of friends and I used to receive many comments and ‘likes’. Especially boys from my school gave me ‘likes’ on pics, more than to any other girl in my class. I knew it because I was also checking their profiles. But someone must have reported me because I discovered my account was disabled. I really don’t understand this stupid rule. Most of my classmates are 13, but I will turn 13 in a few months. It’s not like I was doing anything wrong, and now I have to make another profile and add all my 500 friends back. Since my account was disabled, I have had the feeling that my schoolmates don’t pay attention to me and they don’t like me as much as they used to.

Daniela's story

I love my mobile, because its camera is very snappy and wherever I am, when something interesting happens, I can seize the opportunity, take a picture of it and share it on Facebook. Last Monday we went on a trip with my class and, when we arrived and started getting off the bus, Fabian slipped on the stairs and I got my camera out fast and took a pic of him. When I shared it on Facebook, no one in my class “liked” it apart from Fabian and, even though I tagged them all, no one left a comment. Maybe they don’t like my pictures anymore or maybe they envy me for my telephone, or they are just jealous of my popularity. From now on, I won’t “like” anything that my classmates post, apart from Fabian of course.

Sofia's story

I’m one of the Superstars on Stardoll. I have the latest collection and I also got my mom to buy me one of the couture collection that was available only for a month. Plus, I have my own StarBazaar where I sell the clothes I don’t like anymore. I sell everything that is more than one month old and I keep on adding celebrity labels to my wardrobe. I mean, how else could I keep on having the most beautiful meDoll? I mostly hang out in the Twilight club and Harry Potter club, but also in Rich and Hot club. My mom thinks I spend too much time in there but if I insist enough and just pout a bit, she eventually buys me everything I want!

Marie's story

There is this boy at my school, he’s the quiet type, he doesn’t stand out, and he’s mostly by himself during breaks. But a couple of weeks ago, Chad, the captain of the football team, and others from his crowd started to pick on him. They even created a webpage where they posted modified pictures of him to mock him and humiliate him. But now it’s gonna get worse. I read a comment where one of the guys suggested they should catch him in the schoolyard, throw ketchup and mustard on him, take pictures and add them to the website. The point is to make him ‘one of them’, since red and yellow are the colours of the football team. I really don’t know what to do. I’m afraid they’re gonna move on to me if I say or do something. I’m not exactly the popular type either...

Mathew's story

They think we are dinosaurs, that we don’t know how to use the Internet and they keep on copying content from Wikipedia to do their essays. Even though I recognise how useful and practical it is, Wikipedia is not meant to cheat on their homework. It is a great tool to improve knowledge and to obtain information, but when used this way, it is totally counter-productive. They don’t think things over anymore, they don’t process facts and information. They just copy it all, sometimes even the typos.

David's story

I teach IT in high school and some of my pupils befriended me on Facebook. One of them, who is quite smart but not particularly diligent, kept really loose privacy settings. Yesterday, I noticed that he joined a group called “Legalise Marijuana”. Even though I have no direct evidence, I cannot help but wonder if he is using it. I am not sure what I’m supposed to do with this information. Maybe I should have a word with his mom and dad because if I had a 16-year-old son, I would want to know if he happened to use drugs. Or maybe it’s just nothing and I should keep this to myself.

Charlotte's story


My first internet

Is there an ideal age for children to start using the internet?

Online popularity

You are somebody if you have many friends on Facebook. Do you agree?

Tagging or not tagging, that’s the question

Sometimes, tagging can be fun for you but not so fun for others. Please give examples of such ‘not so fun’ situations.

Is Google killing the magic?

“By Googling everything, we lose something important: our sense of mystery”. Do you agree or disagree that the ever-present availability of information has made the Internet generation lose the sense of wonder and joy of discovering?

Everybody for himself?

One of your classmates is being the target of nasty comments and rumor-spreading online. Is it his/her responsibility to defend himself/ herself and fight back?

Do social media encourage deception?

The story goes that young people use social media to deceive and dissimulate, instead of being open and honest about who they really are. Discuss.

The practice of collecting online friends

Three-quarters of the friends on your profile are people you hardly ever have contact with. What’s the point then? Discuss.

Too young for MySpace?

Is it right to set an age limit to join social networking sites?

Young people and pornography

It is a myth that watching porn online will prevent young people from growing into responsible, balanced adults. Do you agree?

Multiplayer games and sociability

In what way(s) do you think online multiplayer games contribute to acquiring social skills? Do you think that this applies equally to boys and girls?

Is the Internet a big waste of time?

Adults often complain that kids waste too much time online. Are there online activities that you would personally consider a waste of time?

Parents on Facebook – desirable or creepy?

In your opinion, is parents’ presence on social networking sites a good thing?

Online reputation: how bad can it get?

Bad reputation can sometimes be just one click away. Please give examples of situations when this might happen.

Virtual worlds and avatars

“I can understand why young kids need to pretend to be someone else and invent themselves glamorous avatars, but for teenagers, this seems a bit childish.” Do you agree?

For or against censorship?

YouTube and Facebook should stop banning pornography. Long live freedom of speech! Discuss.

I “like” you, do you “like” me?

How important is it to be “liked” on social networking sites?

The power of social networking sites

“Social networking sites are more likely to achieve great impact in promoting social and environmental causes than any of Obama’s or Sarkozy’s decision.” Do you agree?

How efficient is media multitasking?

“Media multitasking is inefficient. A person can only properly concentrate on one thing at a time.” Discuss.

'Fast-food’ information

It has been argued that the increased availability of information has made the Internet generation lazier and thus less able to process information. The argument is that people just don’t think for themselves anymore. Do you agree?

Hiding behind the screen?

Is it cowardly to say things online that you would not have the courage to say to people face to face?

Living in a digital bubble?

“People have never been as lonely as they are in the current digital era." Discuss.

Internet as the great equalizer?

Do you think that the Internet fosters inclusion or exclusion? Please explain.

Banning social media at school

Is banning access to social networking sites at school a good approach?

How much worth is Wikipedia?

“Wikipedia is both the richest and most unreliable source of information on the Internet.” Discuss.

The huge success of video-sharing

Some You Tube videos have millions of hits. What do you think makes those videos so successful?

The good old days

Parents often say that life before the Internet was better. Do you think that’s right?

How best to keep young people safe?

Eradicating all risks or teaching children to manage risks: what is the most responsible parental approach in your opinion?

Children go online increasingly early

Kids go online at an increasingly young age. On average, young people aged 9 to 16 first go online around the age of 9, with younger children saying they were 7, and older ones saying they were 11 at first use. While the age for first internet use varies from one country to another, there is a tendency to go on the internet earlier in Nordic countries than in Mediterranean ones.

How many online friends do young people have?

In spite of popular media stories of young people with hundreds of contacts, the EU Kids Online report shows that only about 10% report having more than 300 contacts on their social networking profile. Half of young people have fewer than 50 contacts and about a quarter have less than 10. Younger children tend to have fewer contacts than teenagers.

Privacy settings on social networking sites

All social networking sites allow users to adjust privacy settings, which means that young people can control what bits of information are available and to whom. Most of them have learned that it is not a good idea to post their address or phone number on their profile: only one teenager in seven reports having posted such information.

The value of information

We get instant updates about our friends’ lives through newsfeeds or Twitter, without the need to reciprocate, and most of the information we can think of is readily available online. Once a scarce commodity, information is available to anyone, with minimum costs and little effort.

Cyberbullying: how bad is it?

In relation to cyberbullying, the latest studies show that only about one teenager in 20 has been the target of nasty or hurtful messages online, and even fewer have sent such messages to others. Two thirds of those who received bullying messages were fairly or very upset, especially younger children.

Young people’s online identity

Half of European teenagers aged 11-16 report that they find it easier to be themselves on the internet than when with other people face to face. However, only one in six openly admits to pretending to be a different kind of person online than they really are.

Who young people have as online friends

A quarter of teenagers say that they are in touch with people that they met online in the first place (and with no other connection to their lives). The older they are, the more likely this is to happen. However, nearly 90% of young people communicate online with people they already know in person in real life.

The age limit in social media

Young people lying about their age to get a social networking profile is said to be common practice. Every sixth teenager has posted an incorrect age in their profile and it is safe to assume that young people usually pretend to be older rather than younger.

Upset by porn?

Recent research reveals that among 9-16 year olds, one in seven have, in the past 12 months, seen images online that are “obviously sexual – for example, showing people naked or people having sex.” Among them, a third said they were bothered by the experience and one in six was either fairly or very upset by what they saw.

Making contacts through gaming

While it has been proved that virtual worlds and game playing are important ways to extend one’s social circle, playing online games is still predominantly a boys’ activity. Over a quarter of teenagers use virtual worlds, game playing and chatrooms to communicate with people that they have no other connection to in the ‘real world’. A significant majority of them are boys.

Young people’s online activities

Young people engage in a wide range of potentially beneficial activities online. The most frequent online activity of 9-16 year olds is using the Internet for school work (85%). Other frequently-mentioned online activities are playing games, watching video clips and instant messaging. Fewer post images or messages for others to share, use a webcam, file-sharing sites or blogs.

Parental participation online

Two thirds of young people think that their parents know a lot or quite a bit about their Internet use. Regarding the desirable level of parental involvement, over half of teenagers think that parents’ interference with their activities limits what they do online.

Online profiles: public, private or partially private?

The EU Kids Online report reveals that about 60% of 9-16 year olds have a social networking profile and the likelihood of having one increases with age. Young people are aware of the importance of protecting their private information online, with nearly half of them keeping their profile private and visible to their friends only. Only a quarter of young people have a public profile, visible to anyone.

The GoSupermodel phenomenon

GoSupermodel and Stardoll are popular online games designed around the fashion doll concept whereby users (mostly young girls) can dress up their doll avatars or change their make-up and body. They can also participate in interactive and social activities, depending on their type of account, free or paying. The sites feature fashion magazines, social clubs, virtual shops, virtual decorating and instant messaging services.

A few words about PEGI

The Pan European Game Information (PEGI) is an age rating system established to help parents choose age-appropriate video games for their children. While half of games are suitable for players of all ages, there are many that are not suitable for younger children or teenagers and a minority are made for adults only. The PEGI system is used throughout Europe thanks to its harmonized game rating system.

On the importance of being “liked”

According to social researchers, the ‘likes’ on a social networking site work like a digital handshake. Comments and ‘likes’ are a form of social currency that help sustain a relationship; likewise, receiving and giving comments are a form of mutual recognition and support. Posting comments on your friends’ walls gets you noticed by their circle of friends, thus giving you the possibility of extending your own.

What is digital civil society?

The Internet provides tools for people to get informed about, and get involved in, causes and movements they support. From human rights campaigns to civil issues, people can use the power of online communities to start and organize collective offline actions. The recent Jasmine revolution in Tunisia is an excellent example of this.

Controversy over media multitasking

There is an ongoing debate about the actual value of media multitasking. It has been claimed by some that media multitasking, that is the simultaneous use of several media, does not allow people to fully engage in any of the activities they are doing. Others say that multitasking is both needed and efficient in the technology-saturated environment in which young people live today.

The information deluge

We live in a society flooded with massive amounts of information. In 2005, mankind created 150 billion gigabytes of data. This is why it has become increasingly difficult to sort and extract useful information. This can sometimes mean missing out on something crucial, like a deadline for applying to university.

Online versus face-to-face communication

Some young people feel more comfortable discussing private issues online than face to face. A third of teenagers say that they talk about private things online which they do not discuss face to face and nearly half of them talk about different things on the Internet than in face to face situations.

Internet and loneliness

Early research about the effects of Internet on people’s lives revealed that instead of bringing people together, extensive online communication actually made them lonelier and more isolated. On the contrary, more recent findings emphasise the positive effects on social involvement and well-being. Still, it seems that those who benefit most are people that already communicate a lot and enjoy greater social support.

The digital divide

The digital divide refers to the gap between people in terms of access and use of information technology. Socioeconomic status, income, educational level and race are among the main factors associated with technological development. The global digital divide refers to inequalities between countries and regions of the world in relation to technological advance.

How schools handle social media

In countries like the UK or US, many schools have banned students from using social networking sites out of fear that they would be exposed to privacy-related risks. Others simply claim that these sites, just like mobile phones, distract pupils from learning activities. Midway solutions propose school-based social networking tools.

Wikipedia and Britannica

According to a study published in the Nature journal, Wikipedia is just as good a source of scientific information as Encyclopedia Britannica. The journal analysed a series of articles from both sources through a blind peer review process that revealed an average of 2.92 mistakes per article for Britannica and 3.86 for Wikipedia. Wikipedia has maintained the quality of its articles through volunteers who ensure cleaning and accuracy.

The viral video

Video-sharing sites like YouTube enable users to be in complete control of what they watch and when they watch it. Users can decide what is popular and what they are going to share. Items that reach millions of hits are termed ‘viral’. According to the site’s statistics, hundreds of millions of users from all around the world are uploading hundreds of thousands of videos daily, with over 24 hours of video uploaded every minute.

Being young in the 70s

The rise of disco music, the hippie culture and the landing on the moon, the first personal computers and floppy disks - these were some of the things happening when the parents of today’s teenagers were themselves teenagers. They had VSH tapes instead of DVDs and Blu-ray disks and the most common way to get in touch with somebody was to pick up the phone at home or to meet them in person.

Parental approaches to keeping their children safe

Parents take different measures to ensure their child’s safety online. The majority talk to them about their online activities or stay nearby when the child is online. Half of parents choose to monitor their child’s activities on the Internet and a quarter track the websites visited by the child. However, only a few young people would like their parents to do less.

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