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At Praesidio we are passionate believers in the value of participatory work with children and young people. We believe that in order to ensure that children can thrive online, as well as stay safe from harm, it is essential that we properly understand from them how they experience and navigate the online world and what it means to them. This is a perspective that runs through all our work.

In 2023 Praesidio were asked by TikTok to develop and design the first ever global youth council on behalf of a global tech company. We brought to this project extensive experience with creating and running youth councils, panels, and participation groups in a wide range of projects. In building the council, we drew upon established best practice in relation to participatory tools and approaches for the set up and running of groups with children and young people. An overriding priority for youth participation and engagement is to create and sustain a safe and respectful working environment for children to share their thoughts and perspectives without feeling pressured or constrained.

The TikTok Youth Council was established in late 2023 with a specific focus to connect young people, and their voices, directly to the platform and the relevant teams within TikTok that can take their ideas and make actual change on the app. The council brings together teenagers from across the world with 15 representatives from the USA, UK, Brazil, Indonesia, Ireland, Kenya, Mexico and Morocco.

In meetings so far, the council members have discussed issues around digital wellbeing – including product-based responses to this – as well as issues related to reporting and blocking. The council members come to the meetings with their own individual perspectives on each of the discussion topics and have been able to collaborate to come up with real, workable solutions to their concerns. Our councillors have already had the opportunity to meet the TikTok CEO, Shou Chew, to ask him questions, and hear from him directly.

We believe that The TikTok Global Youth Council provides an outstanding model for technology companies to engage with and listen, on an ongoing basis, to their users.