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Voiceit 1Early development of Digital and media literacy is necessary for prevention of the risks for children and young people in digital environment, according to the young people who participated in the Youth forum Voice It, organised by the National Network for Children.

The Bulgarian Safer Internet Centre was one of the hosts of the annual Youth forum which took place on 20th of November in Ancient Serdica Complex in Sofia.

The young people had the opportunity to join discussions on various topics concerning youth which took place in different corners of the hall. This year each hosting organization gave 10 challenges to young people (3 questions on the topic, 4 claims, 3 media materials). In parallel with this, videos that also provoked discussions were projected. The event was opened by the Chairman of the Management Board of the National Network for Children (NNC) and Coordinator of the Bulgarian SIC Georgi Apostolov and the Bulgarian Ombudsman Maya Manolova.

Emanuil Georgiev and Petar Kanchev, experts from the Bulgarian SIC, together with Elena Stamenova, KatiVoiceit 2 Dimitrova and Mina Boneva, co-facilitators from the Bulgarian SIC’s Youth Panel have organized two parallel discussions – one on the topic of young people and the internet and another on the topic of digital and media literacy (DML). A lot of young people and adults participated in the hot debates.

During the disscussion on the topic wether the internet harms or helps young people, the discussing participants came to the conclusion that the internet is not the reason for children’s illiteracy but it actually gives a lot of opportunities for education and entertainment. However, these opportunities are related to the necessity of development of digital and media literacy which can contribute for prevention of the risks online. The participants in the discussion agreed that it is quite necessary DML to be included in the curricula, as currently it is not sufficiently covered. It was pointed out that multi-disciplinary approach is needed.

The necessity of parents’ participation in the development of children’s digital and media skills and the prevention of the risks also came to the foreground. The participants in the discussion pointed out that if parents do not feel competent enough, they should look for proper help and advice proactively.

The participant in the discussion on the topic of DML agreed that news in both traditional and online media should be considered as fake, until the authenticity of the information is verified and confirmed.

The participants in the discussions were asked to write down their opinions and recommendations which were summarized by the NNC and addressed to the responsible institutions and the stake holders.