SAFEonLINE: Youth & Internet Safety on Safer Internet Day
SAFEonLINE, powered by EURid, is an inclusive art competition held across European countries aimed at high-school students aged 14 and above. The students are encouraged to artistically explore the realms of Internet safety and cybersecurity.
In 2023, we reached a milestone with record-setting 104 artworks, each offering unique perspectives on crucial issues affecting today's youth. These include the illusive feeling of safety online, identity theft, access to adult content, cyberbullying, cybercrime, digital footprint, privacy on the Internet, and many more. These topics closely align with the challenges that Safer Internet Day (held every year on 6 February) aims to address.
Today we are pleased to chat with Katarina Kletecka, the SAFEonLINE Art Competition project coordinator and discuss how the two initiatives align in order to foster a better online environment, in particular for children and the youth.
What is your assessment on the overlap between art, technology, along with internet safety and cybersecurity?
I see an intersection of art, technology, and internet safety, particularly within the realm of poster creation, which reflects an interplay between traditional artistic techniques and contemporary technologies. The process of creating posters has evolved into a synthesis of manual artistry and modern technological too.
On the one hand, the incorporation of rapidly advancing technologies allows for innovative and visually striking poster designs. Digital tools, graphic design software, and multimedia elements enable artists to explore new dimensions of creativity and communication. However, this also brings about challenges.
Privacy concerns on the internet are one such challenge. Adam Valenta, the winner of the SAFEonLINE 2023, has expressed it well when he said in an interview that safety on internet should not be underestimated and he wanted to make the poster as scary as possible so that it urges people to think about it. His winning poster was created from 64 computer screens with titles friend 01 to friend 64 where the faces were not existing faces, but created by AI. As Adam said, he wanted point to this as one of the things we could be afraid of.
Is the youth nowadays prepared for the online challenges they are facing and what are good ways to change this in a positive direction?
The rapid pace of technological development makes it challenging for everybody not only the youth to be fully prepared for all online challenges we/ they have to face. Given that being online is an integral part of their daily lives, awareness becomes crucial. I think the posters, created by the young generation artist reflect their cognizance of many of the challenges.
While raising awareness is important, actively involving the youth is key to positive change. Encouraging them to think about online challenges and express their insights through mediums like posters is a constructive step. By engaging in the dialogue, they are not only raising awareness but also taking a proactive role in addressing and partially solving the issues they encounter online. This participatory approach empowers the younger generation to be agents of positive change in the digital landscape.
What motivated EURid to focus specifically on visual art as a means to address these issues of internet safety and cybersecurity?
We wanted to address the topic in a creative and unusual way. The use of visual art as a means to address the issues of internet safety and cybersecurity provides us with the chance to deliver essential messages without worrying about language barriers. Visual art has the power to go straight to the point and it evokes emotions, the message it sends out resonates much longer than a simple presentation on the topic.
In what ways does EURid plan to showcase the winning artworks in 2024 to maximize their impact and reach?
We will organise street exhibitions in the countries where the winning artist are from – Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Hungary and Poland. Organising street- exhibitions with large format posters proved to be an excellent way to reach out to a broad public and open a discussion about such a challenging topic.
For more information on the SAFEonLINE Art Competition, visit https://eurid.eu/en/welcome-to-eurid/initiatives/art-competition/.