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Viewpoints from the frontline of content.

Awaiting Generation U

By Alice Webb 04-12-2017

Today’s children will be the first to grow up in a fully digital world. Every morning they wake up to a wave of new content, opinions and ideas from across the globe, bringing opportunities and challenges different to anything that has come before.

In my role as director of BBC Children’s, my focus is always on making sure that our audience is able to ride that wave, not be washed away by it, and to ensure that we are as relevant and important in their lives as we have been for their parents and grandparents before them.

But the reality is that if we don’t act now, as content creators, innovators and policymakers, then future generations of children will face this wave on a much larger scale.

They are Generation U – the future generations for whom the digital world will be without limits or end, an unlimited resource with unlimited possibilities for the Unlimited Generation.

Exploring how best to serve this audience in the future is the overarching theme of the Children’s Global Media Summit (CGMS), curated by the BBC and taking place this week in the UK city of Manchester.

The event happens once every three years, so it’s our privilege to be curating the content and bringing people together from all over the world at such a unique moment in time.

The Royal Foundation is headed by Prince Harry and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

Last week we announced that the Duke of Cambridge will be delivering a keynote session at CGMS 2017 on how unlimited freedom in the digital world may be impacting on children’s mental health and wellbeing.

The Duke’s keynote will also examine what those in the industry should do next to engage with the everyday problems that young people face online.

It follows the announcement of a new code of conduct earlier this month by The Royal Foundation’s Taskforce on the Prevention of Cyberbullying.

The Royal Foundation is paving the way in supporting young people online and the Duke has a crucial part to play in our conversation at CGMS.

It’s the responsibility of everyone from content creators, innovators and policymakers to ensure they are doing the very best for their audiences – entertaining them, educating them and protecting them.

That’s why we have ensured the Summit is a global gathering of some of the key decision makers and thought leaders from international broadcast partners, government agencies, content producers, technology and platform specialists, allowing them to work together in shaping a new approach to children’s media in a digital world. This will help ensure we remain as relevant as possible to the global audience we are serving.

Speaking at the Summit are leaders from global brands including Facebook, Netflix, Sky Kids, Viacom, YouTube, ABC, The Premier League, Disney and Sesame Workshop.

We will also be joined by leading campaigners for children’s rights, both online and in the real world, including speakers from Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, Common Sense Media, ParentZone and Apps for Good, plus the Children’s Commissioner for England and Australia’s foremost expert in cyber safety and young people.

In addition to hearing these speakers share valuable insights and visions for the future, delegates will have the opportunity to network and share their own ideas in our daily forum sessions.

My hope is that over three days of keynotes, panel sessions and forums, all delegates will join in the conversation and leave with some tangible legacies for the future and a clearer vision of where we are heading as an industry.

At this time, we need the leading voices of the international creative, technology and policymaking communities to come together and consider the future of media for children and young people. The Children’s Global Media Summit is that moment.

today's correspondent

Alice Webb Director, BBC Children's BBC

Alice is responsible for BBC kids’ channels CBeebies and CBBC, along with their associated websites, YouTube channels, apps and radio station.

In September 2015, she launched the BBC's Big Digital Plan for Children, outlining how the corporation will keep pace with the rapidly changing way in which children consume content. This was followed by the launch of a dedicated children's iPlayer app in April 2016. She is a member of the Royal Foundation's Cyberbullying Taskforce, a trustee of the BBC Children in Need charity and chair of the Children's Global Media Summit.