If you've been on the internet for any length of time, you'll have encountered both the good and the not so good side of online interactions. To help guarantee an atmosphere of "digital civility", Microsoft has created a one year pilot program, targeted at youths.
According to the description on the company's portal, the Council for Digital Good is "a sounding board for Microsoft’s youth-focused policy agenda". And indeed, the initiative is set to kick off, as the Redmond giant has already selected 15 teenagers between 13 and 17 years of age, to become "Council members".
Jacqueline Beauchere, Microsoft's Chief Online Safety Officer, stated in a recent blog post that the group, which was chosen from 11 different states, will give input to Microsoft on "the state of online interactions today". At the same time, the teenagers will be helped to "fully appreciate and understand the risks and potential harms associated with life online", with the end goal of creating a safer and healthier online space.
There will be several months of preparation, in which the selected people will give input via conference calls, all of this culminating with a two day trip to the firm's Redmond Campus in early August.
Regarding the details of the program, here's what Microsoft states on its dedicated portal:
- Council members will sign up for 1-year or 18-month terms
- Paid travel for Council member and one chaperone for on-campus summit
- Council members will have opportunities for college or other recommendations, mentoring and personal/pre-professional growth
- After serving on the Council, youth may be eligible and considered for “internships” or other posts at various third-party organizations
The firm will also provide special accommodations and personal devices, if necessary. As far as the attributions of the Council member, Microsoft says he or she will will need to:
- Serve as a CDG representative in your school and home community
- Spend approximately eight hours per month on CDG-related activities
- Be available for, and participate in, periodic conference calls and online discussions on mature subject matter around risks youth face online with the CDG and Microsoft team members
- Offer ideas for evangelizing CDG themes and activities locally
- If invited, attend and participate in follow-on events and forums, including international conferences (registration, travel and on-site expenses to be paid by Microsoft)
Jacqueline Beauchere stated that the company encourages teenagers to apply again if their applications have not been accepted this time, as the goal is to expand the program to more people in the future.