Safe Social Media project (Paper presented april 14th, Vienna)
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Safe Social Media project (Paper presented april 14th, Vienna)

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The Overall Goal of Safe Social Media is: ...

The Overall Goal of Safe Social Media is:
Reduce exposure to violence for children and adolescents through Social Media.

In order to solve some of these problems we have created Safe Social Media an educational project “to navigate without drowning”.

Our efforts will be oriented to create an online network of youth organizations, educational institutions, parents associations, media companies and other stakeholders, in order to establish a multidirectional and intergenerational dialogue on these issues.


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  • 1. Best practice. Safe social media. Daphne III Projectby InterMedia Consulting (Reynaldo Rivera and Manuel Villalobos) Best practice. Safe social media. Daphne III Project by InterMedia Consulting (Reynaldo 1 Rivera and Manuel Villalobos)
  • 2. Best practice. Safe social media. Daphne III Project by InterMedia Consulting (Reynaldo Rivera and Manuel Villalobos)Safe Social Media (www.safesocialmedia.eu):The Safe Social Media project promotes an innovative – evidence based strategy to protect and empowerEuropean Children in social media.A)To highlight the complexity and urgency of the problems linked to children, teenagers and social media, arecent report commissioned by the Home Office Violent Crime Unit (UK) as part of the Together We Can EndViolence against Women (February 2010) reports:Over 80 per cent of young people use the internet daily or weekly and around a third of 8–11-year-old and 60per cent of 12–15-year-olds say that they mostly use the internet on their own. Almost half of children aged 8–17 and a quarter of those aged between eight and 11 have a profile on a social networking site, such asBebo, MySpace or Facebook. While sites set age limits (typically 13 or 14), these are not generally enforced.Girls, for instance, report being under increasing pressures to display themselves in their ‘bra and knickers’ orbikinis online, whereas boys seek to display their bodies in a hyper-masculine way showing off muscles, andposturing as powerful and dominant. Sexualised self-presentation could also mean that young people areexposing themselves to danger: recently, public attention has focused on the use of social networking sites tosexually solicit underage children and young people.A recent YouGov survey found that 27 per cent of boys are accessing pornography every week, with 5 percent viewing it every day. The survey also found that 58 per cent had viewed pornography online, on mobilephones, in magazines, in films or on TV. Another study showed that a quarter of young people had receivedunsolicited pornographic junk mail or instant messages while almost one in eight had visited pornographicwebsites showing violent images.Lara Dutta, Goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations Population Fun and Miss Universe in 2000, believesthat “parents and children often clash over using the Internet, watching TV or movies and listening to music.Parents want to protect their children from negative influences (Violence, sex, social prejudice and offensiveLanguage) and may feel they know what is best for them, while adolescents struggle for independence.Family decisions and open lines of communication between parents, teachers and children can ensure thatyoung people are given the proper guidance as they engage in this vast network of information andexperience. Such support and protection can moderate children’s exposure to inappropriate content andprevent them from being taken advantage of by opportunistic adults. The power of the media overadolescents can be neither ignored nor denied. It has given the stars of films, music and sports adisproportionate influence on the lives of adolescents, who admire these figures and often emulate them”.With advances in technology, video games are becoming increasingly graphic and realistic. At the sametime, children are more and more likely to play games without adult supervision: three-quarters of 12–15-year-old have a games console in their bedroom. Many games feature highly sexualised content and there is anotable lack of strong female characters. The link between violent content and aggression has been cited inseveral studies and it is widely accepted that exposure to content that children are either emotionally orcognitively not mature enough for can have a negative impact. Whereas parents are not likely to allow theirchildren to watch an 18 film, they are much more lenient when it comes to allowing their children to play ageinappropriate games. This may be because they do not fully understand either the realism or the themes thatthese games contain.Schools can help children develop the capacity to interpret and filter information and to recognise and valuediversity. As such perhaps we need to consider the value of media literacy and gender studies and begin tosee them as core to the curriculum we teach our children. Sex education, too, must focus on preparing youngpeople to form healthy, respectful, emotionally fulfilling relationships. 2
  • 3. Best practice. Safe social media. Daphne III Project by InterMedia Consulting (Reynaldo Rivera and Manuel Villalobos)Recently, in the report “The State of the World´s Children 2011” by Unicef published an article about Digital 1Safety for Young People. In this article Colin Maclay, Urs Gasser and John Palfrey say “effective problemsolving begins with the definition and exploration of the problem in question. While it may seemstraightforward, a comprehensive and uniform concept of what safety means in the online context is lacking.In addition, the interpretation and relative prevalence of risks varies. In developing nations, for instance, whilesome forms of aggressive behaviour may be less common, certain sexual risks – whether sex tourism,trafficking of children or production of child pornography – are likely to be more pressing. Coming to termswith a uniform concept of safety and arriving at ways to discuss and track the varying risks and behavioursare essential.Refining these risks to children’s rights to protection from violence, abuse and exploitation from onlinesources is essential”.B)We think that the use of Social Media is a great tool to educate, they are offering a good service tosociety if the society do a positive and responsible use of social Media.We have exposed before some fact involve in the risk. Now, in order to defend the right, we carriedout a research about the abuse of Social Media. Some problems addressed were:1) Absence of uniform and concrete assessment or impact indicators on the educational/awareness strategieson media violence implemented up to now in Europe.2) Very few educational actions addressing jointly parents, teachers and teenagers together have beenorganised. Most of the projects were specifically targeted to one of these categories or they were involvingthese categories separately. These approaches may have been creating huge limitations in thecommunication process and behavior change policies (some have proven to be inefficient to solve media-related violence problems), as it has been recognised by experts and stakeholders, because they do notconsider: the two-step model (Lazarsfeld and Katz) and the integrated theory of informal social control(Sampson and LaubI). Such a comprehensive approach is highly recommended in the Daphne booklet"Violence and technology" (2008), page 23.3) Poor awareness, among children and teenagers on how to use new media avoiding the risks of getting intouch with violence contact on the social media (social networks, online videogames, etc.), probably becauseof a lack of effective educational methodologies and commitment in schools and families.4) Poor knowledge on the risks of Internet among parents and educators. According to a survey ofEurobarometer (2008) it is evident, for example, how parents do not often take measures to control theirchildren in Internet: 50% of them, for example, do not use any filter; and 60% of these do not use it becausethey think it is not necessary. Evidence of this problem is also given by the Recommendation on theprotection of minors and human dignity and on the right of reply in relation to the competitiveness of theEuropean audiovisual and on-line information services industry (20 December 2006, OJ L 378/72), whichrecommends Member States to promote "actions to enable minors to make responsible use of audiovisualand on-line services, notably by improving the level of awareness among parents, teachers and trainers (…)through media literacy programmes and by continuous training within school education" (point 2.a)5) Absence of Integrated Educational System in the safe use of Social Media. The quick development ofsocial media (social networking sites, online videogames, video and image sharing, blogs, etc.) has facilitatedthe access to information (video, images, etc.) on the web and given a different approach to interpersonalrelations. This easier access to any kind of products on the web and with no or very low costs, not onlyimproved the opportunities of communicating but unfortunately it has also increased the risks of getting intouch with violent contents, especially towards the categories most at risk, such as children and adolescents.We want to propose a European model of awareness allowing to avoid teenagers of getting into risky1 Colin Maclay, Urs Gasser and John Palfrey work at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University, whileGerrit Beger heads the Division of Communications Youth Section at UNICEF. 3
  • 4. Best practice. Safe social media. Daphne III Project by InterMedia Consulting (Reynaldo Rivera and Manuel Villalobos)situations and virtual behaviors by helping them (through a youth and participative approach) how to use thesocial media in a pro-active, creative and responsible way.C)In order to solve some of these problems we have created Safe Social Media an educational project“to navigate without drowning”.Our efforts will be oriented to create an online network of youth organizations, educational institutions, parentsassociations, media companies and other stakeholders, in order to establish a multidirectional andintergenerational dialogue on these issues.The Overall Goal of Safe Social Media is:Reduce exposure to violence for children and adolescents through Social Media.The specific objectives of the project are:a) Improved awareness of children, parents and teachers towards the use of Internet and the social media(social networks, online videogames, etc.). This objective will be reached through the implementation of theeducation campaign in schools, as described in workstream 3. Indicators of results: 5.000 teenagers; 120teachers; about 2.000 parentsb) Reduced impact of the violence on teenagers when they access social media, thanks to a moreresponsible and creative usage of social media positive opportunities;c) Empowering parents and teachers as major resources for the education of the adolescents to the use ofSocial media;d) Identification of common indicators for the assessment of European educational programmes andawareness raising campaigns against media violence to be implemented in schools and families;e) Reinforced cooperation between the schools of the two countries in the fight against violence on Socialmedia, by adopting a common educational programme and a system of exchange of best practices. The mainambition is the appointment, in each region, of one school as "regional awareness node" with the scope ofcoordinating the cooperation of the other regional schools within the educational strategy on the sector.f) Improved scientific and technical knowledge on the education on violence on Social mediaAnd the Beneficiaries of the project are addressed to the following target groups:- Direct beneficiaries: teenagers (age: 10-16), who represent the category most at risk of getting in touchwith violent content through the Internet and social media.The chosen range of age is strategic because:a) it concerns an age in which adolescents do not have yet a fully developed knowledge and perception of therisks of social media; andb) there is a “parental gap” (Livingstone). “I welcome the government’s desire to boost young people’s media literacy skills. Any media literacy programme should equip young people with the cognitive filters to critically examine and challenge the media portrayal of both men and women. It should address concepts such as air-brushing of images and the cult of celebrity, and be linked to education on safe internet use. There’s a great deal of positive work that can be done with young people, not because they are seen as deficient, or victims, or needing to be ‘fixed’ but as part of more general antisexist and gender equalities-based work with boys and girls” (Papadopoulos).Adolescents naturally look for a larger social interaction, and social media are seen as the easiest means howto get it, sometimes involving a degree of "experimentation" and "curiosity" that may bring risks. Althoughsocial networking sites regulations do not allow children to register and/or open a profile, a preliminaryawareness action addressed to younger children 10 – 13 years old is necessary to explain them - beforebecoming users of the Net - the opportunities that they may have in using social networks, but also how totackle dangerous situations. 4
  • 5. Best practice. Safe social media. Daphne III Project by InterMedia Consulting (Reynaldo Rivera and Manuel Villalobos)The direct beneficiaries will be reached through the involvement of 25 selected pilot schools in each country,both public and private. About 10.000 adolescents should be involved (5.000 per country).- Indirect beneficiaries: we have identified parents and teachers as key participants to the projectbecause they are responsible for the education of the adolescents. The weaknesses coming out from recentsurveys (ie: minimum perception of the risks of social media; absence of controls when the children useInternet - Eurobarometer 2008), which affect a relevant part of parents and teachers calls for more efficientinstruments of communication and awareness. Awareness raising of those two categories on the risks andopportunities of the social media is therefore strategic because of their role as educators of the children: onlyself-aware parents and teachers can transmit to the children the information on a correct behaviour on theInternet and new media. This perception is backed by important researches carried out, which highlighted thekey role of parents and teachers as mediators in the media education and control of children (ie: EU kidsonline; Byron Review 2008; Daphne booklet "Violence and technology" - 2008). 150 teachers (60 in Italy and60 in Spain) will be trained after one-day seminar in each school. The number of parents involved in theactivities should be of 2.000.D)The project will be develop in the following steps: (only we will explain the main workstream)Workstream 1 "Analysis of the context and best practices"The final objective of this workstream will be the analysis of the scientific background and of the contexts,starting from the existing best practices and studies at EU level, in order to identify common weak pointsand/or opportunities in the involved countries in order to create the most appropriate methodology for theeducational campaign, and the Creation of a common knowledge database.Workstream 2 "Elaboration of the awareness campaign"Second milestone: educational strategy designedWorkstream 3 "Implementation of the campaign"This workstream will test the education programme developed in the workstream 2. The pilot action will beimplemented inside a group of 25 schools per country, with an estimated number of 10.000 adolescentsinvolved. The schools will ensure the coverage of at least half of the national territories. Half of the schoolswill be located in big towns and half of these in rural or provincial areas and they will be both public andprivate.Workstream 4 "Impact assessment"In order to measure the impact of the programmes and make a contribution with the analysis of the variablesand causes that intervene in risky situations and behaviors, a causal-comparative research method will beapplied in randomized groups (2 by each Country). Causal-comparative research involves comparing twosimilar groups in order to explain existing differences between them on some variable or variables of interest(risk exposure and media literacy).In brief, in the casual-comparative model the partners will compare two groups by country, one experimentalgroup exposed to the programme and a control group (which will not be exposed to that variable). Afterwards,an examination of the differences is done, in order to determine if the programme cause a clear improvementin children and youth abilities and competencies.Workstream 5 "Communication and dissemination"Fourth milestone: launch of the websiteWorkstream 6 "Exploitation and sustainability"Fifth milestone: exploitation strategyThe sustainability strategy will reach different objectives: 5
  • 6. Best practice. Safe social media. Daphne III Project by InterMedia Consulting (Reynaldo Rivera and Manuel Villalobos)- Promote the adoption of the educational curriculum at EU level (Focus groups, seminars and otherexchanges between products and potential new users).- Develop ways of embedding the results into policy, by defining mechanisms to link projects, programmesand policies.- Enlargement of the network of users- Activation of permanent information points for the target groups inside the schools- Secure funding for the future continuation of the activities in an enlarged contextE)And at the end, we want to highlight some innovations of Safe Social Media project.The project has an important added value, under different points of view:- involved groups: very few initiatives of joint awareness activities at European level involving children,parents and teachers have been experimented until now. And even fewer initiatives have achieved concreteand measurable results on their effectiveness because they were mainly one shot events without foreseensystems of assessment. By bringing together, inside the same activities, the three categories we want tocreate a multi-level approach and specific moments of interaction and confrontation between the threecategories in the main environment of socialisation of children: the school.- field of action: the social media are new online communication/socialisation tools that are furtherdeveloping year after year. In spite of the arising risks of getting in touch with dangerous and violent content,very few actions have been undertaken up to now in Europe, both in terms of legislation and wideeducation/awareness campaign to the use. From the analysis of the Daphne toolkit it results, for example,that only 9 funded projects were focused on on-line violence (the last of which dates back to 2003) and noneof them has treated the subject of social media.- developed tools: the educational tool developed by the project wants to fill the gap of the presentstrategies, which dont address jointly parents, teachers and adolescents. This tool wants to ameliorate thestate of the art, based mainly on partial instruments of action that do not allow having an effective andmultilevel result. The positive educational experience already developed in Spain and Italy by the partnerswas also focused on specific elements of the media education, respectively online videogames (Spain) andsocial networks (Italy). Starting from these two independent strategies we wish to create a commonprogramme including the two sectors and developing a common approach to the awareness raising on thecorrect use of social media and on prevention of accessing violent contents. A single joint action can bring amore efficient use of resources and time and allow analysing the phenomenon of violence on social mediainside a coherent framework and with common indicators of assessment.We are sure that with Safe Social Media we will promote a responsible use of Social Media and as a result wewill be creating social capital in the family and in the school. Thank you very much for your attention, sincerely Reynaldo Rivera, CEO of InterMedia Consulting Manuel Villalobos, Executive Manager info@intermediaconsulting.org 6