Young Kiwis working hard for a safer internet

Sticks n stones Safer internet day Melbourne

13 year old Molly Redican recently presented at Facebook Headquarters in Melbourne, and wrote about her experience exclusively for Kiwi Families.

On February 7 (Safer Internet Day) Facebook invited leading child rights and anti-bullying organisations, including Sticks ‘n Stones from Cromwell, New Zealand, to discuss the use of Disappearing Media (Instagram Stories, Snap Chat, etc) and listen to concerns, ideas and solutions from young people.

We think before we post, we just don’t think what you want us to think!

Molly Redican - Safer Internet Day MelbourneThis quote, from one of the 50 Victorian teenagers that attended the #girltakeover at Facebook Melbourne as part of Safer Internet Day, highlights the importance of young people being fully involved in discussions around positive and safe use of Social Media and in other online environments.

Hi, I’m Molly, and I joined Sticks ’n Stones at the start of Year 9 to have my voice heard in an organisation that placed a lot of value on my perspective and experiences.

Sticks ’n Stones is New Zealand’s leading, authentically student-led, anti-bullying charity. We formed in 2013 with a group of 30 passionate teenagers from across our region joining our Director Karla Sanders to create a new approach to tackling bullying.

We now have over 300 young people aged 11-20 across New Zealand standing up to make a real difference in their communities and nationwide.

I put myself forward for the opportunity that was shared in our online group about the #girltakeover because I thought it was a great chance to develop my confidence presenting and facilitating with groups. And also to make sure that the focus wasn’t on only the bad stuff with none of the positive aspects of disappearing media being talked about.

I love Social Media and I have a lot of fun on it. I understand there are risks but also that I have the responsibility to take charge of my settings, post content I am confident about and that doesn’t hurt anyone else, and that each post creates a perception out there in cyberspace about the kind of person I am.

All of the young women who were keen to be a part of this awesome opportunity submitted reasons we should attend and these were then sent on to Facebook to check over. I was lucky enough to be chosen alongside 4 other members from across New Zealand and I definitely got a lot out of the experience.

At FB Headquarters, in the heart of Melbourne, we got a chance to work within an incredibly different environment to the classrooms we normally work in.

Decked out with games, original artwork and photography, toys, photoshoot areas and even stationery bikes surrounded by party poppers, the offices were ready to engage us and all of the other participants in looking closely into Disappearing Media and how we could develop messages and content to support other teens.

Alongside Facebook, Project ROCKIT and Plan International, we ran an interactive workshop where the focus was on Disappearing Media and how we can use it in really fun and positive ways while still understanding the potential risks.

Plan International looked at how adults could better support us to use Disappearing Media Safely and they had some great ideas including: providing positive education opportunities for parents and adults to learn about Social Media too.

I was part of the Sticks ’n Stones team that facilitated workshops around what messages we felt could better connect with other young people.

We started by looking at the most common ‘Tips for Staying Safe Online’ and ranked these from most important or relevant to least.

We then took the 5 top ranked messages and brainstormed in small groups how we could update them to be more relevant.

From our discussions, we found out what teenagers really think about the mainly ‘fear based’ and ‘judgment heavy’ messages that we normally hear. We collectively agreed that the internet has developed so quickly, yet the messages were not really for ‘us’.

With all of this in mind, we started to crowd source fresh ideas and messages we could use to promote staying safe online while still keeping the internet fun and enjoyable to use. These included:

  • Life online is not as simple as a list of tips. For every tip, there is a situation where it does not apply
  • There are things that we can think about that might help, e.g. A Post or photo helps build your ‘social’ self-but it is only a piece of who you are- not the whole picture.

We are continuing to develop these to create a resource that can be widely shared to connect with other young people both in New Zealand and in Australia.

We think it is so important for our voices to be heard when messages are shared about Social Media and being online and that the first place we can learn that our ideas, opinions, experiences and worries are valued is at home with our parents; so we really want to promote making time for open and honest conversations (not lectures).

And even if you do feel like freaking out, our advice, do that on the inside and take some time to simply listen for a bit.

Cromwell-based Sticks ‘n Stones is a student-led programme focused on taking positive action to prevent bullying.

Following the workshop at Facebook’s office in Melbourne, the students return to New Zealand and share what they’ve learnt through their local Sticks ‘n Stones’ School Action Groups. We’ll be keeping an eye out for anymore useful info for parents from this amazing group of young Kiwis!

Molly Redican

Molly Redican is a 13 year old, Year 10 student at Dunstan High School in Alexandra, Central Otago. She volunteers for the anti-bullying organisation Sticks 'n Stones and is an advocate for keeping other young people safe online.

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Categorised: Teens
  • ingrid

    good positive stuff!

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