Youth Panel

Digital Wildfire youth panels

During the Digital Wildfire project we have spent a lot of time focusing on issues relating to young people and the use of social media. Young people are a particularly vulnerable population online: as ‘digital natives’ they often have a lot of access to different platforms but they can lack the skills and resilience necessary to use social media safely. This can leave them open to experiencing harm, in the form of cyber bullying or accidentally making private information public etc., and causing harm to others, for instance through the posting of provocative content. In order to hear young people's own views on social media, we have run two youth panels. Young people from schools and youth groups across the country were invited to send us work and we received many fantastic entries in the form of artwork, poems, essays, stories, posters and videos. The winning students received a prize voucher and everyone who took part received a certificate. Looking at all of the entries from the two youth panels it is clear that e-safety messages about privacy and digital footprints etc. are getting through to these young people. It is also clear that they experience online life in individual and personal ways. The work submitted provides a valuable resource for our Digital Wildfire project as we seek to identify ways to support digital maturity and resilience among young people.

Take a look at this page to see some examples of our fantastic youth panel winning entries. Congratulations to all our winners!

Youth panel two: How can young people stay safe on social media?

After several requests from schools, we ran a second youth panel in summer 2016. This time we asked young people aged 11-15 to send us pieces of work to answer the question "How can young people stay safe on social media?" We received 110 submissions with a fantastic range of stories, posters, poems, videos and artwork. We were very impressed with all the entries we received and a judging panel of experts selected the ten best as our youth panel winners. Here are our judges hard at work looking through the entries!

The judging panel members were:
Katherine Fletcher - Co-ordinator of Cyber Security Oxford, University of Oxford (Chair of meeting)
Marina Jirotka - Principal Investigator ‘Digital Wildfire’ project, University of Oxford
Giles Lane - Artist, Designer and Researcher, Proboscis
Sarah Wilkin – Engagement Officer, University of Oxford - read Sarah's report on being a judge 
Leslie Haddon – Visiting Lecturer, London School of Economics
Menisha Patel– Research Associate, Human Centred Computing, University of Oxford
Anna Jӧnsson – Reporting Officer, Kick It Out
Christopher Greatorex - Regional Cyber Protect Coordinator for the South East Regional Organised Crime Cyber Crime Unit

In total the judges selected 10 winning entries and 4 runners up. These pieces of work articulated very clearly the kinds of experience (both positive and negative) that young people can have on social media and the ways in which it can affect their lives. They also gave some strong, personal advice for others about how to stay safe on social media. Here is a selection of the winning entries.

Charlotte, from St. Peter's School Solihull, drew a poster with lots of useful and relevant advice for young people. Here is a section of it: 

You can see the full poster here.

Tanvi, from Howell's School, wrote "The Email", a short story that the judges felt was well-observed and captured the complexity of social media issues facing young people. 

Here is the opening of the story: 


Today is a serious and earnest blog post. If you are having a happy and wonderful day then please stop reading because I do not want to ruin your day. ;)

Ok, so, today I received an email from an address named, this person wrote a much uncivilised letter to me. Ok, so I shall create a nickname for him/her, he/she shall be called Slow. Anyway, so Slow wrote this to me:

Read the rest of the story here 

Dominic, from Cressey College, made a video to talk about online safety and cyber bullying. The judges loved his enthusiasm and passion. 

Orla and Lotte, from St. Peter's Catholic School Solihull, prepared a booklet with a fantastic cyber story and set of poems. Here is the start of their story: 

Read the full story here

Beth, from St. Peter's Catholic School Solihull, made an intricate pencil drawing showing the vulnerability of young people online. To see a larger version of the image, click here.


Molly, from Friesland School, made a very well thought-out multi-page and multi-layered booklet describing how young people can stay safe on social media.

See more pages of the booklet here

Georgia, from St Peter's School Solihull, made a bright and eye-catching poster that was full of excellent tips. Here is a section of it:

See the full poster here.


Niamh, from Bournemouth School for Girls, made a highly engaging video textbook on internet safety.

Jack, from St. Peter's Catholic School Solihull, wrote a poem to describe "Getting ensnared in the web". The judges loved his writing style. 

Post your pictures and state your mind, all 
with a simple click of the mouse; 
 chat with friends from across the world 
without having to leave your house.

But like the ocean, it's beautiful at first and it
 fills you with bliss, 
 but it can transform into a dark and 
frightening place if you delve too far into the abyss.

See the full poem here

One of our runners-up, who has chosen to remain anonymous, made this video full of excellent technical advice for protecting your identity online. 

YouTube Video: Summary of Entries

Youth panel one: What makes a good digital citizen on social media?
In winter 2015 we invited 16-18 year olds from a small number of schools and youth initiatives to send us pieces of work responding to the question: What makes a good digital citizen on social media? We received responses in the form of essays, research, artwork, poems, narratives and videos. The submissions were deeply impressive: our youth panellists articulated very clearly the many benefits they gain from using social media and the various harms they have observed or experienced personally. In describing digital citizenship they pointed to the responsibilities of social media platforms and society in general as well as describing rules or guidelines that individual users should follow. This video summarises all the entries we 

A judging panel reviewed all the entries and selected the top five. The winning youth panelists were invited to join us at our showcase workshop in January 2016. During the workshop they gave short presentations describing their work and were rewarded with a certificate and (thanks to sponsorship from Santander) a £100 prize voucher. The photo shows all the winning youth panelists standing with Mary Ridgway (Santander) and Elvira Perez Vallejos (University of Nottingham) -- who introduced them at the workshop.

Winning Entries

Isabel Moreno and Frances Goodgame -' Identity' Watch here

Ayed SalemE-safety poem

There were no personal details

Or even any names

Only some pictures

And a few drinking games

Laura ParkinsonMy views on social media’ 

Harriett Smith What makes us good digital citizens of social media? Is social media actually the problem?

“If you look for the light you can often find it, but if you look for the dark that is all you will ever see.” – Iroh. 

I was lucky. I was born when phones were only just beginning to look less like bricks and slightly more like the sleek pieces of technology we know today. I had a childhood of colouring, climbing trees, dressing up, playing in the mud and almost everything that kids nowadays don’t seem to enjoy doing. My family had one desktop computer, one TV and a house phone. That was the extent of our ‘technology’ but at this point we didn’t need anything else. This was enough. 

Read the rest of the essay here

Molly Hands I spy with my little eye

YouTube Video

 Watch Harriett and Laura talk about their youth panel experiences