6 Ways Young People Can Join The Internet Governance Discussion

It’s quite a known fact that young people use the Internet more than older generations. Yet, their presence in the Internet governance and policy making processes is not adequate to say the least.

Bringing youth into Internet governance and policy making discussions won’t only allow better representation to the process, but it will also help ensure that their needs and concerns are taken into account.

On 12 August 2017 was the International Youth Day but I also spent 5 intensive days learning at the MEAC school on IG 2017.

This is where the idea came to me to celebrate youth around the globe and their willingness to make their voices heard. Many young people are using the Internet to improve their communities and make a difference. For all those willing to contribute to the evolution of the Internet and are interested in the Internet governance process, but don’t know from where to start, here are 6 simple ways to begin with.

Disclaimer: There’s no right or wrong way to start. The steps I mention are not in any specific chronological order.

1. Follow The Discussion 

Whether locally or globally, keeping oneself updated with the hot topics and controversial discussions is crucial to know where one stands. You can start by checking different parties websites, subscribe to their mailing lists and even follow their social media accounts.

Attending meetings such as Internet Governance Forums (IGF) and ICANN would be beneficial and gives you a broader insight on how things are happening. However, this may be quite unaffordable for many young people. You still can apply for financial support or follow the online webcasts.

2. Attend Capacity Building Programs 

Different parties offer capacity building programs online. That’s how my Internet governance journey kicked off.

I highly recommend choosing one of these programs (to name a few: ICANN beginner’s guideISOC online courses, Diplo’s Internet Governance course) and start your learning journey.

Warning, you could feel overwhelmed but most people have felt this way when starting. No. The feeling won’t fade away either but you’ll learn to cope with it too.

A more advanced option would be on-site programs. This is where schools such us Meac-sig come in. The school offers a great opportunity for participants to broaden their knowledge in the topic and discuss emerging topics. It provides a safe enriching environment to learn and broaden the horizons.

3. 3. Express  Yourself And Mobilize

You don’t have to be an expert to share your thoughts. You neither have to finish all learning materials to shape interesting opinions. Remember, your perspective is valuable and coming from a young person or a minority group makes it even more unique.

Internet governance has various sub-themes, find the ones you’re interested in and start engaging.

4. Act Locally 

Being from Tunisia, a developing country, I believe that building a well-informed local community is necessary to raise our concerns and improve our regional contribution rate. Connecting people is a great way to start: if you’re a technical person, your input would still be valuable in more legal discussions on digital rights and you may be a contact point for the two communities, and vice versa.

5. Youth Groups 

Whether it’s a small cyber security university club or an informal discussion group, youth groups may have different interests and goals, but they have one common point: a willingness to contribute to the policy-making process affecting their daily Internet usage and raise awareness about its effects.

Get involved or start your own youth community group.

6. Tech Solutions 

Topics such as Internet access, cyberspace safety, technology contribution to SDGs are ongoing challenges in many regions and innovative solutions are always a great help to tackle them. Bringing up solutions and building local initiatives are a major highlight for small groups and young people’s contributions that should be taken into consideration.

I hope you find these suggestions helpful and if you have more tips that are not already on this list, I would love to hear from you!

Cover Image Credit: Internet Freedom in Africa 2016. | CIPESA

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