The Internet (and following technologies) is a new media, specifically characterised by interactivity (human to machine) and interaction (human to human), which put the (young) user into an active place. The comparison becomes clear if we consider other electronic media, like radio and television, and in a certain way, games, where all the contents are previously put by editors.

The high levels of interactivity (human to machine), interaction (human to human), immanence (contents broadcasted by anyone before any control), and unpredictability (large spectrum of possible consequences, sometime hidden) propose to consider the use of the Internet (and following technologies) as a “navigation in the mist”. 

It results from this that a durable safer use, independent of the context (filtering, control, help, but also intellectual, commercial, cultural, ethic, technical contexts),
can only be induced by an educational approach, producing an evolution of the representations, attitudes and behaviours of the users. This evolution concerns the young people’s consciousness of :

  • who produced a content, what are their goals ? (production)
  • what effect does this content produce on me, who else also received this content ? (public)
  • what are the powers (actual and virtual) of the machines I’m using ? (technologies)
  • what are the powers (actual and virtual) of the signs I’m using ? (languages)
  • what significations are carried out by the content ? (representations)
  • to which category of communicational act (commerce, discussion, mail, game, information, official) does the content belong ? (type)

Those categories are the classical topics of media education, initiated by the British Film Institute, and adapted and applied in various forms throughout Europe and the world. 

There already are interesting information about the reality of the uses by young people from 12 to 18 and their attitudes facing risks of the Internet and new portable audio-scripto-visual media, connected on telecommunications networks.

Mediappro is built from the results of major surveys and actions, like

  • the international survey “Young people and the Internet”, carried out by the University of Granada and the University of Huelva (Spain) - the Center for liaison between teaching and information media, CLEMI (France) - the Catholic University of Milano (Italia) - the University of Coimbra (Portugal) - and the University of Sherbrooke and the University of Montréal (Quebec), and the GreMS of the Catholic University of Louvain (Belgium).
  • Educaunet projects from the Safer Internet Action Plan, Educaunet - Education programme for a critical approach of the risks linked to the use of the Internet (contract IAP/26773), Educaunet2 – A European campaign to raise awareness and implement media education to promote a safer use of the Internet (contract IAP/3155). EDUCAUNET, a critical educational approach to Internet and its possible risks. Educaunet is a critical education programme for youth. It aims at teaching them about Internet and the possible risks linked to its use. It has implemented a European awareness campaign and training sessions for teachers, parents and educators.
  • Against the dangers of the Internet, the Mediappro project preserves the theoretical diagram of Educaunet 1 and Educaunet 2: The safety of the young users increases when they learn how "to anticipate the dangers ”. It means that they transform an ignored danger into a risk, taking it in account, choosing to face or to avoid it, with external help or protection. The capacity to transform a danger into a risk depends on skills related to those topics classically used in the pedagogy of media education, but also on the attitude and behaviour of each young girl or boy.

Educaunet 1 and Educaunet 2 taught us that the risk and its experiment are major anthropological dimensions of the youth's process of development. The youth seeks spaces of experiences where risks and dangers are present, to prove himself and to develop his capacities of autonomy and his identity. Those projects, and many other studies, showed how much the Internet is first a whole major cultural opportunity and a stream impossible to circumvent. It would not be wise to seek to divert the young people from it, even with a protection purpose. It results from this established fact that action in favour of safety of the young users of the Internet (and of its new technical development) cannot disregard the positive potentiality of these media in the following dimensions :

  • The security of the users with which and about whom the youth communicates.
  • His personal construction.
  • The quality of exchanges and transactions.
  • The right to self-expression and to active social engagement.
  • The opening to the world and its actuality.
  • The construction of information and knowledge.

It is therefore necessary to conceive educational processes for safer uses strongly linked to those important dimensions of a larger educational purpose.

The conclusions of the research "the young people and the Internet" and of the two European projects Educaunet 1 and Educaunet 2 showed that the representations, the attitudes and the practices of the Internet are extremely diversified from one person to another. That implies to set up educational processes based on the specific characteristics of each young person and each group of young persons.

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