The Centre for Media, Technology and Democracy at McGill University is an interdisciplinary research centre dedicated to understanding and responding to the social, political and policy challenges posed by our evolving information ecosystem and digital technologies. They identified that Canada lacks federal legislation to address the realities of online harm for children and youth and they sought to involve youth in policy and advocacy for a safer internet. They hosted a four-day Youth Assembly on Digital Rights and Safety in Winnipeg to directly engage a diverse group of 39 eighteen-year-old students from across Canada in dialogue with each other, academic experts and policymakers to collectively advocate for the safety and well-being of children online.
Over the course of the Assembly, the student members worked diligently to reach a consensus on their shared values, identified the most pressing issues stemming from the digital age and developed recommendations to tackle these challenges. Most notably, the members created a “Declaration of Digital Rights” outlining the recommendations they developed together for a safe and equitable internet. Key among their concerns is the commercial exploitation of their data. The Assembly exemplified the importance of involving young people in policymaking and demonstrated that youth are eager to be involved with creating effective change. The Centre released a landmark public report with 21 recommendations aimed at making the internet safer for children and plan to discuss the findings with policy makers, academic experts and government officials.
Photos courtesy of McGill University