Safer Internet Day summit in Portugal

 On Safer Internet Day 2024, the Portuguese Safer Internet Centre orchestrated a summit in Viseu. The event was characterised by a discussion about the challenges and opportunities of artificial intelligence (AI). It brought together public and private sector forces to promote safe digital practices, with a particular focus on the protection of children and young people in the vast online world.

People sitting in a room in a conference

Artificial intelligence, a technological milestone changing how we interact with information and creativity, was at the centre of the discussions. Platforms such as ChatGPT and Midjourney illustrate AI's revolutionary potential, but equally raise concerns about its use in deepfakes, fraud, and disinformation. The forum Zoom into AI: Exploring Invisible Dimensions, which took place in the Polytechnic Institute of Viseu auditorium, was the highlight of the day. The opening event was attended by Lino Santos, Coordinator of the Portuguese National Cybersecurity Centre; João Paulo Gouveia, Deputy Mayor of Viseu; Maria João Horta, Deputy Director General of the Directorate General for Education; and Carlos Manuel Pereira from the Portuguese Institute of Sport and Youth (IPDJ) and laid the foundations for a day of reflection and learning.

Challenges and opportunities in the digital age:

Manuel Dias from Microsoft set the event's tone with a presentation on Generative artificial intelligence: challenges and opportunities in the digital age. The presentation emphasised the disruptive nature of AI and the need to adapt to a reality in which technology is deeply embedded in society. The first panel discussion, a dialogue on the application of artificial intelligence in education, focused on the possibility of changing teaching and learning methods with the help of personalised systems and immediate support for students. The problems that arise when implementing these solutions, such as data protection and equality, were also considered. The debate, moderated by João Pedro Martins, a BIK Youth Ambassador, included contributions from Carlos Pinheiro, Belmiro Rego, Fernanda Ledesma, João Marques and Célia Ribeiras, who discussed the curricular integration of artificial intelligence and the importance of fostering critical thinking in students.

The second panel focused on AI in image manipulation as a form of violence, during which the role of AI in exacerbating violence through images and the challenges faced by victims were discussed. Madalena Baeta, a young volunteer at APAV, the Portuguese Association for Victim Assistance, was the moderator and led a panel discussion on the measures needed to combat this type of digital violence. It is important to mention that both panel discussions with renowned participants were moderated by two young people who prepared the panel theme and all the interactions with the speakers in advance, taking into consideration their expertise and contribution to the discussion.

Youth panel discussed key issues

The morning ended with the presentation of a new awareness-raising resource: the colouring book ZigZaga na Net. Navegar cores. This book aims to sensitise children of kindergarten age to good practices for safe and healthy internet use.

The afternoon began with a panel discussion organised by young people for young people. The discussion between peers encompassed the biggest concerns, myths, potentials, and risks of this new wave of technology. According to the ChatGPT platform, these include employment and automation, privacy and security, prejudice and discrimination, ethics in AI, social and psychological impact, access and inequality, and sustainable development.

Next, Mário Campolargo - Secretary of State for Digitisation and Administrative Modernisation - addressed the audience with an impressive speech. He thanked the young people who participated in the event, especially the Youth Panel, and emphasised the importance of celebrating Safer Internet Day. He also referred to the importance of interpersonal relationships, where ethics and values should not fall by the wayside, even in the digital world. He spoke about the dangers of digital exposure and how information technologies help us grow as human beings. One sentence stood out in his speech: "If you can look, look; if you can see, perceive”. As citizens, we are often unable to process the reality around us, and we only miss it if we stop seeing it. We need to find a balance between the digital and the real world and be critical of what we find.

The theatre play ID your brand on the net, starring Alexandre Silva, Pedro Górgia and Tiago Aldeia, closed the event with a powerful message about the importance of digital identity and reputation.

The "Safe Internet Workshops"

The following day, a series of educational safe internet workshops were offered. Attended by over 700 participants, the workshops covered a diverse array of topics from cybersecurity to computational thinking and digital wellbeing, emphasising the need for informed and safe internet browsing. The workshops took place at the IPDJ Viseu premises and aimed to raise awareness of healthier, safer, and more conscious internet use among students from 2nd to 12th grade, including vocational students and others. Topics included:

  • Anatomy of an attack: good practices for cybersecurity,
  • Digital academy for parents,
  • Robotics and computational thinking,
  • From AI to hate: digital issues and challenges,
  • Virtually secure,
  • Tech voices: young people in action for digital well-being,
  • Cybersecurity in an arcade game,
  • Preventing Problematic internet use: the role of storytelling

Feedback received on the whole programme of Portuguese Safer Internet Day activities was very positive. The workshop sessions on Cybersecurity in an arcade game!, Anatomy of an attack and From AI to hate were given particular praise.

Read more about the event on 6 February 2024 and discover our resource, "ZigZaga naNet. Navegar a Cores". Additionally, find out more about Safer Internet Day in Portugal or learn more about the work of the Portuguese Safer Internet Centre more generally.

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