Welcome to Brainstorm Productions - Award Winning In-School Theatre

We help more than 360,000 students each year with bullying, cyber safety and resilience programs via a range of award-winning theatre performances. Brainstorm Productions' aim is to reduce the prevalence of bullying in schools and improve student behaviour and wellbeing.

What type of student program are you looking for:

Cyber Safety Programs    School Bullying Programs Brainstorm Productions    School Wellbeing Programs Brainstorm Productions

What makes us stand out:

  • Award-winning with over 30 years' experience
  • Certified by the Office of the eSafety Commissioner
  • Performing to over 360,000 students every year
  • $5.50 for primary school students and $7 for high school students
  • Free interactive teachers resources with each show booked
  • Free posters
  • Original song download (Primary Schools)
  • Curriculum-based and accredited performances
  • Young professional actors - great role models
  • All actors screened to work with children
  • All actors trained in every facet of WH&S
  • Detailed risk assessments are in place for all productions

Theatre in Education

Brainstorm Productions programs are modelled on the practice of Theatre in Education (TIE), which helps aid the educational process and student learning using live in-school theatre. Here’s why: “Children need art and stories and poems and music as much as they need love and food and fresh air and play,” says Philip Pullman, children’s author and winner of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. 

 

What are the Benefits of Theatre in Education?

Theatre is the ultimate immersive art form, targeting every sense simultaneously. Children, like adults, generally have different learning strengths. There are four commonly identified learning styles:

  • Visual (spatial): a preference for images, gestures and spatial learning
  • Aural (auditory-musical): a preference for learning through music and song
  • Verbal (linguistic): a preference for learning through words and voice
  • Physical (kinesthetic): a preference for learning through body movement and touch

Although we may use all learning styles in combination, most of us have a preference for one style over others. Theatre in education, then, can carry a message and leave a strong imprint on such vast audiences simply because it does utilise all four learning styles.  In this way, educational theatre can have a profound effect when a familiar bullying scenario is being played out on stage, with clear solutions, which students can use in their own lives

 

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Why Drama is Important in Education

Students can safely watch an actor being bullied and experience how that makes them feel alone, unsafe, afraid, stressed, ashamed and rejected; and how this can lead to depression, anxiety and mental health issues. This is incredibly effective, not only for the victims but, also, for the bullies themselves who can see and feel how their behaviour affects others and learn alternative behaviours or seek help. Students are also provided with insights into why bullies behave the way they do, such as negative home lives, with the aim of increasing caring behaviour amongst students and creating a more positive school climate. 

Theatre in Education helps teach emotional intelligence, and research has revealed that the "overwhelming majority of students demonstrate enjoyment and enthusiasm through watching educational theatre, are receptive and listen attentively, and can correctly identify the educational messages being portrayed"[1]. In this way, Brainstorm Productions facilitators present carefully composed scenes that provide clear lessons, whilst engaging the audience using emotive stories and humour

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Brainstorm Productions Theatre in Education Methodology

Brainstorm Productions co-founder, Jenny Johnson, has more than 35 years’ experience delivering educational theatre and has a background in both school and University teaching. Jenny developed Brainstorm Productions educational theatre methodology and uses professional actors to deliver the programs. All programs are written in consultation with psychologists and all actors are trained and supervised by qualified teachers and theatre specialists, to ensure that the complex issues of bullying are approached sensitively

The power of Theatre in Education and Brainstorm Productions programs, as an innovative approach to bullying, cyber safety and student wellbeing education, can be gauged by the enthusiastic participation of schools. In 2018, Brainstorm Productions performed to over 360,000 Australian students. 

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[1] Source: Waters, S., Monks, H., Ayres, J., & Thomson, S. (2012). The use of theatre in education (TIE): A review of the evidence. Prepared by Child Health Promotion Research Centre, Edith Cowan University, for the Constable Care Child Safety Foundation. 

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Student Wellbeing Guide for Schools

 

Introduction to Student Wellbeing for Schools

We need to have more conversations with young people about mental health.

In the 2017 Mission Australia Youth Survey Report, mental health was rated by young people as the most important issue affecting Australia today. While most young people reported feeling optimistic about the future, they also saw mental health as one of the major barriers to achieving their work and study goals. 

Issues like anxiety, depression and substance misuse can have a devastating effect on individuals and communities, and if not addressed early, can impact on a young person’s ability to work, socialise and function throughout their life. 

Of the people who experience a mental health disorder in their lifetime, half of those will start having problems before the age of 14. Early detection and intervention are therefore vital to improving the wellbeing of young people who are struggling, preventing the tragedy of suicide, and helping them to flourish in the future. 

But despite this, most young people don’t seek professional help to manage their mental health. And those who are in most need of support, are the least likely to seek it. Which is why, taking the time to support students who are struggling is essential in education.

Below you'll find comprehensive information about a range of student wellbeing topics’ including the importance of student wellbeing programs in schools, how resilience programs for schools can help students through key transitions, the value of theatre-based wellbeing programs for schools and helping primary and high school students build resilience through theatre productions.

Plus, much more!

Read along or use the navigation in the header to jump ahead:

Please also feel free to reach out to our team with any questions you may have, free call 1800 676 224 or to email click here

 

Topic 1: The Importance of Student Wellbeing Programs in Schools

One in four teenagers experience mental health issues. Around 550,000 young Australians between 16 and 24 live with anxiety and depression. Suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians aged between 15 and 24. 

Why aren't young people asking for help?

One of the biggest reasons young people don’t seek professional help is stigma.

One type of stigma is the actual or perceived prejudice directed towards people with mental health problems in the community. But according to Dr Claire Kelly, Manager of Youth Programs at Mental Health First Aid Australia, self-stigma can be a bigger barrier for young people when it comes to accessing support. Self-stigma is the internalisation of negative attitudes and beliefs about mental health issues by those who are experiencing them and has a negative impact on self-efficacy and self-esteem. 

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Another major barrier to help-seeking is poor mental health literacy. Young people often have difficulty understanding their psychological distress and knowing whether, or not, their experience is ‘normal’. They may be unsure if they need professional support and may feel confused and isolated. Poor mental health literacy can also make it hard for young people to help family or friends who are suffering.     

A third major barrier to help-seeking is a desire for self-reliance and autonomy. Many young people are reluctant to seek help from others, instead preferring to manage their mental health themselves. According to Dr Kelly, a lot of young people believe "I should be able to cope with this on my own".

So, what makes young people more willing to ask for help? Research shows they are more likely to seek help if they believe services will be beneficial and trustworthy, if they have a history of positive experiences, and if they have encouragement from friends and family. And they’re more likely to seek help if the support can be accessed online, through services like eHeadspace.

How can schools increase help-seeking behaviour?

Teachers can reduce stigma and make mental health a normal topic of conversation by having regular discussions about mental health in the classroom.

Education about the signs and symptoms of depression, anxiety and substance misuse will help to improve mental health literacy. And personal experiences of mental health, when shared in a safe and supportive environment, can combat stigma, reduce loneliness and isolation, and empower students to seek further help. ReachOut.com provides good resources for teachers, to help them have these conversations in the classroom. 

It’s important to give students clear and accurate information about the types of help available, including formal and informal supports. Adolescents often turn to their peers first, and we know that encouragement from loved ones is key to increasing help-seeking behaviour. So, it’s good to educate students on how to identify signs that their friends and family may need help, and where to access it. Give them information about key contacts like Kids Helplineheadspace and their local GP. R U OK?'s education resources also provide tips for supporting someone in their life who is struggling with mental health or suicidal thoughts. 

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We need to challenge common myths and misconceptions about mental health treatment. For instance, we often hear people dismiss a young person's distress, self-harm or suicidal thoughts as "just attention-seeking". Dr Kelly from Mental Health First Aid reminds us that "seeking attention means a person needs attention" and "a cry for help means a person needs help".  It's important for young people to know that if a friend discloses thoughts of suicide this should be taken seriously, and a trusted adult needs to be involved immediately. 

It’s important that we explore with students the options available for treatment. For example, sometimes you don’t click with a counsellor or psychologist straight away, and it can take time to develop a trusting relationship. But it’s also OK to try a different therapist if you really don't feel comfortable. This is important, given that rapport with health professionals is one of the key factors affecting adolescents’ willingness to seek professional help.

It can also help for young people to know they have a right to be involved in decisions about their own mental health care. Health professionals, in collaboration with their parents or caregivers, will aim to respect their autonomy and involve them in decision-making wherever possible.

 

Topic 2: How Resilience Programs for Schools can Help Students Through Key Transitions

Student transition issues

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Transitions are a normal part of development and will be experienced by all children at some point in their lives. Some transitions are planned, others are sudden and unexpected from starting kindergarten, transitioning to high school, adjusting to a new year level, or the move to a new school.

Resilience can be defined as the process of thriving in the face of adversity and challenging life events. The capacity to cope with change is an important protective factor for students and supports their mental health.

Resilience does not mean a life without emotional pain. Instead, resilience is about adapting well in response to stress, and developing skills to manage emotions when they arise. 

Parents and educators are well placed to support children through stressful life events, to help them develop the resilience skills they need to adapt and bounce back. 

Supporting resilience by considering individual differences

While some students will be excited about the prospect of a new school or class, we can't expect all kids to jump into these experiences with exuberance and vigour.

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The way in which children respond to new situations is influenced by their temperament. Some children are naturally drawn to novelty from an early age and will seek out stimulation and excitement. Others are more tentative in new situations and prefer to sit back and observe their environment. Similarly, some children are more sensitive to emotional stimuli, and may require more assistance from adults to regulate their emotions.

Students will do better when the expectations, demands and opportunities of the environment are well matched to their individual characteristics. By considering the temperament of each child, parents and teachers can adapt the environment to suit the specific needs of that child.

Several other factors can influence how a child responds to a new school or classroom. Bullying and problems with social skills can make the transition a bumpy one. Academic difficulties can also impact on a child's adjustment. Children who struggle with schoolwork may feel anxious about learning and have a poor sense of self-efficacy. Those with a history of trauma or significant loss may find transitions particularly challenging.

In some cases, these difficulties can result in a refusal to attend school, increasing the risk of further disadvantage. 

However, it is important to keep in mind that most children will take time to adjust to their new environment, regardless of their temperament and life circumstances. 

Enhancing resilience by preparing them for change

Kids will feel less overwhelmed if they know what to expect from their new environment. Clinical Psychologist Dr Laura Markham provides some tips for easing children into the transition to a new school year. She suggests talking to them about how things might be different in their new school or classroom. Attend orientation activities and organise for them to meet new teachers and classmates where possible. Talk to school staff about their school's systems and expectations. For children who suffer from separation anxiety, it can help to set up a parting ritual and practice saying goodbye.

It can also be good to discuss the opportunities offered by a new year or school. In cases where children have been the target or the perpetrator of bullying, for instance, a new year provides the chance for a fresh start. 

Building resilience by responding to emotions

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The transition to a new school can involve loss and grief. Children may feel sad about leaving their old classroom, teachers or peer group. They may also feel anxious, uncertain and apprehensive about the future. The school community is a source of stability for many students and being removed from this familiar environment can be a big deal. 

Parents and educators can help children to understand that big emotions are a normal response to change. 

'Emotion coaching' is a parenting style that has been linked to positive social and emotional outcomes in young children and is now being adopted by teachers to help manage difficult behaviours and emotions at school. This communication style is based on empathy, awareness and acceptance of emotions, and providing guidance around problem-solving and appropriate behaviour. 

Rather than jumping straight into fixing the problem, spend some time exploring the child's emotional experience. Once they have acknowledged and named their emotions and have had these emotions validated by a trusted adult, then children can start to make sense of their experience and develop their own strategies for managing it. 

How resilience programs for schools can help children cope with change

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Parents and educators can help children deal with transitions by providing information about emotional and social skills. Kids need guidance and practical tools to help build confidence and remain resilient in the face of stress. Initiatives such as reachout.com and KidsMatter offer good resilience resources for students, parents and teachers. 

Brainstorm Productions also provides kids with clear, simple strategies for coping with hardship and change, through their school theatre productions.

 

Topic 3: The Value of Theatre-Based Wellbeing Programs for Schools

Theatre in education as a useful wellbeing education resource

Educational institutions across the world have long recognised that the curriculum needs to cater to the broader needs of students; going beyond the core subjects and also focusing on life skills and student wellbeing.

One way to encourage student wellbeing is through storytelling and live theatre. Theatre in education companies, like Brainstorm Productions, can provide a starting point for conversations about mental health in a safe and familiar environment. 

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For example, Brainstorm Productions high school performance 'Wired' aims to improve mental health literacy, reduce stigma and encourage help-seeking through an engaging and relatable narrative. It explores some of the causes and symptoms of mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression and panic attacks, and the experience of seeking treatment.

It also provides practical strategies for self-management, including slowed breathing, exercise, breaking overwhelming tasks into manageable steps, setting realistic goals, and talking to family and friends. And it shows two characters connecting through shared experiences, who support each other to seek help and make changes in their lives. 

The performance is followed by a discussion with the actors, where students can further explore the issues. They’re given additional information about crisis services and other sources of support. And they're encouraged to speak to teachers, school counsellors, parents and GPs if they have concerns about their mental health, or that of a friend. Follow-up activities help teachers unpack the issues with their students when they return to the classroom. 

By normalising discussions about mental health, and providing simple and practical information, we can break the silence and make it easier for young people to seek help when they need it. 

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The very act of watching live theatre, means students engage in an act of connectedness; connectedness to each other, the characters and the actors. By watching the nuanced interactions, and empathising with the characters, primary and high school students see the benefits of supporting one another. 

Live theatre allows students to observe interactions from a different perspective. The students pick up body language, non-verbal cues and dialogue that indicate a person is struggling. They observe a character making a subtle bid for connection and see how these opportunities can be

This may help students be more mindful of subtle cues in their own interactions and provide opportunities for behavioural change. These skills may be particularly helpful for kids who struggle to read interpersonal cues and navigate social interactions.

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Topic 4: Helping Primary and High School Students Build Resilience Through Theatre Productions

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Young people’s school years are fraught with real challenges, like exam stress, psychological and hormonal changes, and social changes. These challenges often precipitate mental illness.

Getting the right support for mental health issues is important. It is also important for both primary and high school students to get the tools and skills they need to face these problems, and cope with challenges more effectively. 

Research shows that deficits in problem-solving abilities lead to increases in depression and anxiety. Effective problem-solving skills help in both prevention and treatment of mental health issues.

Building resilience

Knowing you have options and can take control of your life can help you develop resilience and self-worth, so you can face problems more effectively.

Teacher Kris Pereira recently supported a student, who was dealing with a difficult situation.

'He [the student] was quite depressed and hid under his blankets in the morning. He hid under desks before school. He didn't seem to fit in socially with his cohort as he didn't share many interests his mates did. They were into rugby and running around and he wasn't interested in that all that much.'

Ms Pereira found that supporting the student to take perspective and identify ways to address his own problem helped him build resilience. Together, they brainstormed his strengths, and focussed on his interests. Encouraging the student to spend time doing what he loved, helped the student increase his confidence and sense of self. 

‘This has given him permission to be himself,’ says Ms Pereira. ‘He now performs, accompanies and leads the whole school at services and in choir. He is a school leader and is happy in himself. He has run his own radio show at an old people's home this year and is tackling life head on with confidence.

'It's really important to work with the person's strengths and build their interest or passion, to give them confidence to be resilient enough to be themselves,' says Ms Pereira.

Being resilient doesn’t take the problem away; but it can help a person cope with the consequences and find a solution.

Vanessa Lewis is also a teacher. She works in a Special School setting, and regularly helps students build resilience so they can cope with challenges.

‘I teach kids with disabilities, all with intellectual impairments and predominantly on the Autism Spectrum,’ says Ms Lewis. ‘The young people often don't have great resilience and there is no perspective between a big problem and a small one. To them, it is always a big problem. For the person to come up with solutions to their problems helps them to understand and better cope.’ 

Problem-solving strategies

Problem-solving therapy is a formal, empirically proven effective treatment for depression and anxiety. It centres on identifying the problem, coming up with a range of realistic solutions, selecting the best solution, developing an action plan, and assessing how effective the solution has been.

Problem-solving strategies can be used in an informal, everyday context, to help young people cope with their challenges. 

Educational theatre can help students learn the power of effective problem-solving. In Brainstorm Productions high school performance ‘Wired’, the audience and the characters help each other take a step back from the characters’ problems, consider the options and make a decision, so they feel more in control of their lives.

While Brainstorm Productions primary school performance ‘Being Brave’, addresses one of the most common emotional disorder that children experience being anxiety. Macquarie University psychology lecturer Dr Carolyn Schniering has stated that it’s important for children to understand that anxiety is not something to be afraid of. As Dr Schniering says, “It’s a normal emotion and an important part of how we engage with the world.”  

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Identify the problem

Encourage young people to take a moment to assess exactly what is going on. For the characters in Wired and Being Brave, it feels like the world is crashing down, and everything is falling apart. Taking a moment to look at what exactly is going on helps get clarity. Taking a step back from the indiscernible haze of problems also gives students a chance to see possible solutions. 

Identify a range of possible solutions

Depression is characterised by a feeling of hopelessness and feeling like there is no possible alternative. But there are always options. Once we have taken a moment to reflect on the problem, we need to brainstorm possible solutions.

Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats has been used effectively in different domains since the 1980s. Author, educator and resilience coach, Maggie Dent says that tools like Six Thinking Hats are important for encouraging young people to think widely and think critically.

The Six Thinking Hats exercise encourages you to try on different coloured hats: the blue hat represents knowing what the problem is. The white hat gets you too look at the facts. The red hat encourages you to reflect on your emotional, intuitive response. The black hat encourages you to use logic and look at the other side of the argument. The yellow hat gets you to take an optimistic approach to the problem. The green hat encourages creative thinking. With the green hat on, thinking broadly, and without inhibition about the possible options available to you. 

Select the best solution

There is no one right solution. But each possible option will have pros and cons. When facing stress or challenges, it is important to survey each option, and think about which will have the best outcome.

For example, if you struggle with taking exams, the best solution may be to develop a study plan, get support with subjects you find most challenging, sleep well before the night of the exam, and come to the exam equipped with a strategy for taking the test.

The solution may not fix the problem, but just knowing there are options will help you feel more in control.

Develop an action plan

An action plan is developed so you know how to approach the solution. It is important to look at your existing tools and resources. In the case of Ms Pereira’s student, his existing resources were both internal and external. He had skills and interests he could pursue. He also had the support from his teacher, his parents, his school and his community. 

An action plan also has a timeline, and achievable goals along the way. If an exam date is set, work backwards from there. Passing the exam is the goal. The period before the exam needs to be broken into workable steps, so the overall goal is achievable.

Taking a new perspective

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Stepping back from the problem at hand, taking a new perspective and assessing possible options helps make challenges less daunting and overwhelming.

'I believe teaching our children to be effective thinkers, problem solvers and creative engineers will help them on all levels especially emotionally, cognitively and socially and it will build their resilience at the same time,' states resilience coach, Ms Dent. 'I also believe it will improve self-regulation and that has to be a winner for every person.’

Wellbeing Programs for Primary School Students:

The Protectors

The Protectors

The Protectors is an emotional wellbeing resource that has been researched and developed in association with teachers and students. It offers concrete solutions children can practice to protect themselves from hurtful comments and negative behaviours they may encounter in the playground.

Clear instructions on cyber safety are delivered in a fun, memorable way. Children will be able to empathise and appreciate the devastating consequences of cyber bullying. 'The Protectors' unlocks the secrets of body language and gives 'Protector Tools' to curb aggressive behaviour.

Key Themes:

  • Assertiveness
  • Bullying
  • Bystanders
  • Compassion
  • Conflict resolution
  • Cyber bullying
  • Cyber safety
  • Digital citizenship
  • Empathy
  • Exclusion
  • Social skills
  • Positive behaviours
  • Positive relationships
  • Problem solving
  • Resilience
  • Respect
  • Rumours
  • Self esteem
  • Stress management
  • Teasing


The Human Race

The Human Race

The Human Race is an anti bullying and resilience program for primary schools that reinforces positive relationships, and provides resources to help reduce the incidence of bullying at school and online. It encourages tolerance, kindness, respect and empathy.

Dunc has been bullied. No one wants to be his partner in the race. Dunc’s loyalty, honesty and tenacity are his greatest strengths but, if he is to win the physical, artistic and mental challenges in the Human Race, he will have to overcome his low self-esteem.

Deedee has lied about her age and alienated people by posting mean photos and comments on social media. She is horrified when she has to enter the race with Dunc, the most "embarrassing kid in the whole school".

Dunc and Deedee need to be respectful and compassionate, play by the rules and do their best to reach their potential as citizens of the world. Can they use their skills in conflict resolution and problem solving to complete the challenges?

Key Themes:

  • Assertiveness
  • Bullying
  • Bystanders
  • Compassion
  • Conflict resolution
  • Cooperation
  • Cyber bullying
  • Cyber safety
  • Decision making
  • Digital citizenship
  • Diversity
  • Empathy
  • Inclusion
  • Kindness
  • Peer pressure
  • Problem solving
  • Relationships
  • Resilience
  • Respect
  • Restorative practices
  • Social skills
  • Values

 

Sticks & Stones K/P-6

Sticks and Stones

When things go wrong in Toby’s life, or he feels frightened or threatened, he gets all churned up inside. His body tells him to fight, his dad and other kids tell him to fight, even TV shows, Youtube and video games tell him to fight. He’s always in trouble, and is unhappy at home and at school.   

He learns to stop, breathe, put his hands in his pockets, walk away, count to ten and talk about his feelings. He learns how to stay safe at school and online.

When Toby decides to break the habit and take responsibility for his own actions he begins to develop positive relationships. He stands tall, becomes assertive and co-operates with other kids to create a circus routine, with acrobatics, unicycling and juggling.  

Key Themes:

  • Aggression
  • Anger management
  • Assertiveness
  • Bullying
  • Conflict resolution
  • Cooperation
  • Cyber safety
  • Empathy
  • Friendship
  • Impulse control
  • Positive behaviours
  • Positive relationships
  • Resilience
  • Respect
  • Safety
  • Self esteem
  • Social skills
  • Stop Think Do

 

Saving Lil and Archie

Saving Lil and Archie

There is pandemonium on Planet Arkon when two robots, Lil and Zig, are zapped to earth and into the lives of two 12 year olds, Bella and Archie. Bella is being bullied and Archie has no friends.

Through their encounters with these unexpected guests, Bella learns to be assertive and to 'report' and 'log off', or walk away, when her connections become negative and nasty. Archie begins to understand his emotions and the emotions of others.

Archie realises that lack of sleep and hours of screen time make him angry and unable to make positive connections with real people. In order to restore the balance, Archie learns that he must control his impulses and engage in more positive behaviours so that Lil and Zig can return to Arkon.

Key Themes:

  • Aggression
  • Anti-social behaviour
  • Assertiveness
  • Bullying
  • Conflict resolution
  • Cooperation
  • Cyber bullying
  • Cyber safety
  • Digital citizenship
  • Empathy
  • Excessive screen time
  • Impulse control
  • Positive online connections
  • Positive relationships
  • Resilience
  • Respect
  • Responsible use of technology
  • Safety
  • Self esteem
  • Sleep
  • Social skills
  • Stop Think Do

 

The H Team

The H Team

This exciting adventure story inspires students to take responsibility for their own behaviour and wellbeing.

Cal and Mindi are accidentally transported from the safety of the 'H-Zone' and left without their positive mindsets. Peer pressure and social media make Mindi anxious and competitive. Cal becomes isolated and is obsessed with junk food and aggressive video games. Struggling with low self-esteem, they succumb to bullying and excessive screen time.

They must learn to critically evaluate the mediastand up to bullying and make good decisions

The H-Team fosters teamworkimpulse control, and resilience, to create healthy and harmonious school communities. An interactive song reinforces the poistive message. 

 

Key Themes:

  • Advertising
  • Assertiveness
  • Bullying
  • Bystanders
  • Concentration
  • Consumerism
  • Cyber bullying
  • Cyber safety
  • Decision making
  • Excessive screen time
  • Healthy lifestyles
  • Media pressure
  • Motivation
  • Peer pressure
  • Positive behaviours
  • Resilience
  • Self esteem
  • Teasing
  • Values
  • Wellbeing 

 

The Magic Words

Cyber Safety Ultimate Guide 38

Zanna and Rolf learn that bullying, telling lies online, and posting hurtful comments and photos on social media can have damaging consequences. Rolf discovers that the secret to happiness is giving and receiving respect, being proud of your actions and achievements, and co-operating to reach a goal. Powerful insights indeed!

Senior students will learn the impact of peer pressure, plagiarism, fraud and telling lies. We also address tact and other positive life skills that will protect them in the future.

Key Themes:

  • Bullying
  • Cooperation
  • Cyber bullying
  • Cyber safety
  • Digital citizenship
  • Empathy
  • Ethics
  • Happiness
  • Honesty
  • Manners
  • Relationships
  • Resilience
  • Respect
  • Self esteem
  • Self respect
  • Social skills
  • Values

 

Being Brave

 

Being Brave gives children strategies to deal with their emotions through good communication, persistence and positive self-talk - making them more resilient. This inspiring show uses song, dance and drama to give children strategies to bounce back after dealing with bullying, loss and change.

Researched and developed in consultation with teachers and school counsellors, this emotional wellbeing resource is carefully crafted to ensure children can relate to the scenarios.

Key Themes:

  • Emotional wellbeing
  • Bullying
  • Resilience
  • Positive relationships
  • Empathy
  • Respect
  • Positive self-talk
  • Healthy relationships
  • Loss
  • Sharing stories
  • Persistence
  • Showing feelings
  • Communication
  • Accepting change
  • Student wellbeing

 

Buddies

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Lucy is impulsive and breaks the rules to try to fit in. Charlie is being bullied but he's afraid to stand up for himself and show his true feelings. 

As players in an exciting virtual reality video game, Charlie and Lucy must co-operate to navigate the cyber chamber, overcome the forces of Aggrator, earn the eight ‘Friendship Discs’ and restore the ‘Ancient Ring of Friendship’.

Together they realise that a true friend is someone who is kind, tells the truthlistens, makes you feel safe and allows you to be yourself

Key Themes:

  • Cyber safety
  • Cyber bullying
  • Teasing
  • Positive relationships
  • Friendship
  • Assertiveness
  • Social skills
  • Conflict resolution
  • Anger management
  • Resilience
  • Empathy
  • Exclusion

 

Wellbeing Programs for High School Students:

Verbal Combat

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When cyber bullying is anonymous and undercover:

WHO’S responsible?

WHAT drives cyber bullies to send that nasty message, post that hurtful comment or embarrassing photo on Facebook or Snapchat?

WHY are some people more likely to be a target and why is it hard for victims to be assertive or resilient?

WHERE can they go if or when they are being cyber bullied?

HOW can we stop cyber bullying from happening?

A cleverly crafted narrative allows students to examine these questions AND their own behaviour.

Key Themes:

  • Bullying
  • Bystanders
  • Consequences
  • Cyber bullying
  • Cyber safety
  • Digital citizenship
  • Digital reputation
  • Empathy
  • Exclusion
  • Gossip
  • Harassment
  • Insults
  • Isolation
  • Manipulation
  • Positive relationships
  • Resilience
  • Responsible use of technology
  • Rumours
  • Safety
  • Social media
  • Threats

 

Sticks & Stones yrs. 7-10

Sticks-and-Stones

Two energetic young performers explore the different forms of bullying at school, in the street, at home and online. 

Toby is falling into destructive patterns of aggressive behaviour. When he meets Joe, he starts to understand how these behaviours have emerged, and develops strategies for conflict resolution, anger management, assertiveness, and breaking the cycle of violence.

School yard scenarios are used to encourage students to have empathy and understanding: invading people’s personal space, homophobic and racist remarks, violence and intimidation, in person or online, are all illegal and can have serious consequences.

This award-winning show shines a spotlight on negative patterns of behaviour that can develop through inappropriate modelling from peers, family members, the internet, TV and video games. It examines the link between hormones, the fight/flight response, aggression and violence.

The hard hitting narrative is punctuated with circus skills to demonstrate co-operation and strategies for improving self-control through breath, focus and channelling energy into positive pursuits.    

Key Themes:

  • Aggression
  • Anger management
  • Assertiveness
  • Breaking cycle of violence
  • Bullying
  • Compassion
  • Communication skills
  • Conflict resolution
  • Consequences
  • Cooperation
  • Cyber bullying
  • Cyber safety
  • Cyber bullying
  • Cyber safety
  • Domestic violence
  • Empathy
  • Exclusion
  • Homophobia
  • Legal consequences
  • Positive behaviours
  • Problem solving
  • Resilience
  • Respectful relationships
  • Safety
  • Self control

 

The Flipside

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When bullying and revenge are used to wield power, Jack and Ella realise they must create an ethical roadmap for the internet. When people post words or images, how will they be received? What will be the consequences?

The Flipside will change student's perspectives on what's humorous, toxic, private, humiliating, informative, safe or appropriate. The performance provides strategies for positive, ethical communication online.

Key Themes:

  • Communication
  • Cyber bullying
  • Cyber safety
  • Digital citizenship
  • Digital footprint
  • Ethical online behaviour
  • Empathy
  • Impulse control
  • Online gaming
  • Responsible use of technology
  • Social media

 

The Hurting Game

The Hurting Game

Samantha’s group spread rumours and alienate her. She becomes anxious,obsessed with body image and constantly compares herself with others..

Desperate to fit in, Jimmy succumbs to peer pressure and becomes the tough guy harassing and bullying other students with homophobic remarks, deliberately failing maths, binge drinking and playing the fool.

They slowly begin to realise that their interactions on social media can affect their mental health and emotional wellbeing, and could have lifelong implications.

Key Themes:

  • Alienation
  • Anxiety
  • Binge drinking
  • Body image
  • Bullying
  • Consequences
  • Cyber bullying
  • Cyber footprint
  • Cyber safety
  • Digital citizenship
  • Eating disorders
  • Friendship
  • Harassment
  • Homophobia
  • Peer pressure
  • Positive relationships
  • Resilience
  • Rumours
  • Self esteem
  • Social media
  • Social skills 

 

Cyberia

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Ruby loses her moral compass online. Anxious and struggling with impulse control, she is in danger of ruining her digital reputation. She is instantly banished to Cyberia.

Tim is in self-imposed exile. A lack of sleep and social interaction leads to mistakesscams and misunderstandings online. He becomes isolated and addicted to gaming.

Tim and Ruby must find their way back to retrieve their dignityprivacy and relationships.

In consultation with education and mental health experts, our creative team have woven together true stories of students' online experiences. It poses questions about how technology is affecting our brainsour humanity and our future.

Key Themes:

  • Exclusion
  • Excessive gaming
  • Consequences
  • Cyber bullying
  • Cyber safety
  • Depression
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Digital reputation
  • Exclusion
  • Gaming addiction
  • Impulse control
  • Internet security
  • Isolation
  • Mental health
  • Online reputation
  • Positive relationships
  • Resilience
  • Responsible use of technology
  • Rumours
  • Self esteem
  • Sexting
  • Social media
  • Stress

 

Cheap Thrills

This fast paced one man show is about that split second when we reach a crossroad, make a choice, and possibly change our lives forever.

Andy and his friends drink alcoholsmoke cannabis and are confused by the hormones racing around their bodies. This dangerous cocktail explodes into one dramatic incident resulting in the loss of their mate Jamie.

Video of his sister Phoebe smoking and getting drunk ends up on YouTube. His dad drowns his sorrows in alcohol, mum pops painkillers to handle stress and his girlfriend has access to ecstasy.

After a lively discussion the audience leaves the venue with a deep understanding of how their choice of friends and their ability to make good decisions has a dramatic and lasting effect on their lives.

Key Themes:

  • Risk taking
  • Substance abuse
  • Alcohol
  • Cigarettes
  • Safe partying
  • Drugs
  • Choices
  • Consequences
  • Mental health
  • Grief & loss
  • Student wellbeing
  • Responsibility
  • Resilience

 

Wired

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Two adolescents with extremes of behaviour, metabolism, hormones, goals and perspectives are spiralling out of control in different directions - one into STRESS and OVERLOAD, the other into DEPRESSION.

When their lives collide, they are forced to change course. The audience can see the characters play out an alternative path towards greater resilience and mental wellbeing.

With a sophisticated script and contemporary music, Wired instantly engages even the most cynical audience to enhance mental health awareness in schools.

Key Themes:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Goal setting
  • Concentration
  • Mental health
  • Exam pressure
  • Resilience
  • Student wellbeing

Topic 5: What Teachers Have to Say About Using Drama to Help with Student Wellbeing

Testimonials

Here is a sample of the positive responses received from teachers about how Brainstorm Productions assists student mental health and wellbeing:

“In one word: Fabulous!!! Highlights the possible steps students can take to achieve good mental health. Fantastic young, role models! 10/10” – Pittwater High School

“Strong messages about mental health and positive relationships! Relevant! Supports student welfare, social choices, life balance. 10/10” – Swansea High School

“Captivating! Fantastic! Drama is a powerful tool for addressing issues: dangers of making poor decisions online and the consequences for real life – thought provoking! 10/10” - Trinity Catholic College

“Highly recommended! Supports our mental health unit. Performance is linked with self-esteem and cyber smart material. Thanks for a timely and rich performance. These kids now have tools to save lives. 10/10!” - Emmanuel Lutheran School Gawler

“Good messages and info about mental health, cyber bullying, digital reputation and respect. Students highly engaged and responsive. Looking forward to the next performance! 10/10” - Port Macquarie High School

“Highly recommended! Students were drawn into the story and thoroughly enjoyed it. Found it confronting but informative. Supports our mental health curriculum. Thank you!” - Our Lady of Mercy College Parramatta

“Appropriately and realistically highlights the adolescent issues and a range of options available to help young people cope. Helped to normalise mental illness, final year pressures, coping mechanisms, welfare and mental health issues. Amazing performers who were punctual, enthusiastic and fantastic as always. 10/10.” - Cranbourne Secondary College

To read more, click here.

Tview our full range of primary and high school student wellbeing programs click here:

 

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Crisis Helplines

Support is available for anyone who may be distressed: Lifeline 13 11 14Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467. If you or someone you know requires immediate assistance, please call Emergency Services (000) or Lifeline (13 11 14). Other supports can be found at www.ruok.org.au/findhelp.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Under no circumstances will Brainstorm Productions or its employees be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on information obtained from this site. It is your responsibility to evaluate any content provided and seek professional advice as appropriate. Never disregard professional advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this site.

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Student Cyber Safety Guide for Schools

Introduction to Cyber Safety for Students

From cyber safety education and cyberbullying, to ethical online behaviour and using technology responsibly, Brainstorm Productions delivers a range of cyber safety programs using live in-school theatre. 

The result? 

Students are empowered with meaningful strategies including building better relationships online, protecting their digital footprint and how to behave in ways that enhance their online safety. 

Teachers are provided with a deeply engaging program that offers a fresh perspective on cyber safety education including emotional intelligence, building student resilience and demonstrating the implications of harmful online behaviour. 

Below you'll find comprehensive information about a range of cyber safety topics’ including what is cyber safety education, why it’s important for students, cyber safety education for primary and high schools and the benefits of using theatre when teaching students about cyber safety.  

You’ll also discover hints and tips on safe gaming, balancing screen time, privacy awareness, cyberbullying and the importance of staying connected offline.

Plus much more! 

Read along or use the below links to jump ahead to your topic of interest:

Please also feel free to reach out to our team with any questions you may have, free call 1800 676 224 or to email click here

Cyber safety programs for high schools

Topic 1: What is Cyber Safety Education?

 Cyber Safety education encompasses a broad-range of topics designed to help students stay safe online. This can include, but is not limited to:

  • The importance of staying safe online, including the dangers
  • How to become a stand-up digital citizen
  • Developing positive online relationships 
  • Identifying when online usage becomes excessive
  • The legal ramifications of online usage, including sexting 
  • How to safely join and participate in online communities and on social media
  • The legacy of your digital footprint and reputation
  • Understanding the consequences of risky online actions
  • The importance of protecting yourself online
  • Being careful with what personal information you share 

Brainstorm Productions have been touring their student cyber safety programs since 2003 (yes, before Facebook!). In the beginning, these programs tackled issues surrounding MySpace, text messaging and e-mail bullying. 

Over time, and with the ever increasing use of digital technology by primary and high school students, these programs have been expanded to tackle a wide-range of cyber safety issues including cyberbullying, how to stay safe using different forms of online technology and social media sites, keeping personal information private, reporting cyberbullying, how to balance online time, online gaming and chatting, digital reputation, sexting, offensive online behaviour, digital citizenship, trolling and the serious risks of unwanted contact with strangers, to name just a few. 

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In 2016, Brainstorm Productions was one of the first cyber safety education providers to receive full certification by the Office of the eSafety Commissioner. To view our full range of primary and high school programs click here:

 

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Topic 2: Why is Cyber Safety for Students Important?

As parents and educators, we also have an ethical obligation when handing over smartphones and other internet connected devices to young people and we need to provide students with the tools to become good, if not great, digital citizens. 

Technology is not without its pitfalls. Fear of missing out (FOMO) means some children and teenagers use social websites and apps almost 24/7. Recent studies demonstrate that the internet can affect young people’s sleep, mental health, safety and social skills. 

We need to understand the impact of technology, and have the skills and knowledge to guide young people to use the internet safely.

So let’s start at the beginning, and firstly explore how screen time affects young people: 

Balanced Screen Time 

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Screen time is a major concern for many parents and teachers. Children are learning to use digital devices from a young age and primary school students regularly use technology for entertainment and to socialise with their friends, while high school student’s smartphone usage is ubiquitous. 

The latest Child Health Poll found that one-third of Australian pre-schoolers, two-thirds of primary school children and almost all teenagers own their own tablet or smartphone.

The Office of the eSafety Commissioner warns excessive screen time can contribute to sleep difficulties, obesity and poor school performance.

A 2018 study in Preventative Medicine Reports found that any screen time beyond one hour per day was associated with lower psychological wellbeing in children and teens, including poorer self-control, curiosity, emotional stability, and poorer ability to complete tasks, manage distractions and make friends.

Excessive screen time can also have implications for eye health, posture and sleep

It has also been argued that screen time stunts imaginative play by saturating the senses with a constant stream of entertainment.

Digital health expert Dr Kristy Goodwin says displacement effects are one of the biggest issues – the more time kids spend on screens, the less time they are spending outdoors in sunlight, being physically active and developing balance, coordination and social skills. 

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How much time should kids spend on devices?

The Australian Government’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour guidelines recommend no more than two hours of leisure screen time per day for 5 to 17 year-olds. Dr Anthea Rhodes, paediatrician at the Royal Children’s Hospital, also recommends keeping screens out of the bedroom, and says it’s best to have no screens one hour before bed.

While most parents try really hard to limit their children’s screen time, it’s becoming an increasing struggle, and many parents are left feeling ineffective and frustrated. Some experts believe the current guidelines are unrealistic, and should be updated to be more applicable to our screen-saturated world. 

And these recommendations don't include time spent on devices at school and doing homework.

Margaret Kristin Murga from Murdoch University notes that most students are already exceeding the recommended screen time for leisure and believes we need guidelines that account for the hours spent using devices for schoolwork.

So what about screen time in the classroom? 

There are differing opinions about how devices should be used in education.

An SBS Insight program revealed that many Australian schools are embracing technology in the classroom, and BYOD (bring your own device) policies are common practice.

Staff from schools such as Lansvale Public School in Sydney’s south-west believe that when it’s well integrated into the learning environment, technology provides opportunities for more critical, curious and self-directed learning. It's preparing students for a rapidly changing world and an uncertain future.

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When used appropriately, technology can make learning more engaging, interactive and efficient. Year 4 student Nini says "I use them [iPads] to research, they enhance my learning. I research the definition of the word rather than look it up in a big dusty dictionary".

However, some teachers are observing a reduction in students’ ability to focus when there are devices in the room.

They are struggling to keep students on task and compete with the distractions on tablets and laptops. A lot of students use hotspots to access blocked websites, and monitoring of internet use is an ongoing challenge. Teachers are finding pack up time is a battle when devices are involved and that technology is putting pressure on student-teacher relationships.

Most teachers would agree with the need for restrictions on smartphone use; however policies differ greatly between schools. Some students are able to self-moderate their technology use, but this is a big ask for most, especially primary school students. 

The importance of balancing screen time at school

In addition to clear limits and guidance, students need balance when it comes to their technology use.

In fact, students often appreciate the value of screen-free learning time. 

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Year 10 student Matt says "everyone’s so much more involved when we’re not using computers. I feel much more focused in class". And Year 12 student Jack says he remembers content better when he uses a pen and paper.

Year 6 student Suzanne points out "I've got other things to do besides going on my devices". 

Whatever your school's approach to technology, students still need to learn through a range of media and methods, using all of their senses.

They need to learn how to read from a book, write and draw with their hands, move their bodies in different ways, understand social cues and interact with nature. They need to learn how to focus on a single task, even tasks that may be boring. And they need to learn how to tune in to their thoughts, emotions and physical sensations. 

Creative activities like music, dancing, visual arts and drama can give students a variety of hands-on learning experiences. They require students to use different parts of the brain and expose them to the richness of human experience.

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According to musician and activist Billy Bragg, "music can make you feel empathy for people that you've never met and for situations that you yourself have never been in...it can give you a different perspective, that helps you to deal with the world...any art - a play, a poem, a film, a song - can help you to psychologically prepare yourself for moments of stress". 

Break up screen time with theatre in education

Theatre in education can be employed by teachers to enhance their cyber safety education and school resilience programs, and give students a break from technology. 

Cyber safety for students is essential, but it doesn't need to be addressed using screens. In fact, students may learn more from a live theatre performance than they do from a movie with the same themes.

Brainstorm Productions offers a range of high school and primary school productions that explore issues like cyberbullying, cyber safety, screen time, balance, resilience, physical activity and respectful relationships, using the medium of live theatre.

Theatre in education requires students to focus on one thing for an extended period of time, rather than constantly switching between tasks and stimuli. It engages them in a narrative and gives them the chance to connect with the actors in front of them, without the mediating effect of screens. 

Cyber Safety Ultimate Guide 6

Research suggests that school theatre productions can improve social perspective taking, tolerance of others and willingness to accept different opinions.

The issue of screen time is at the forefront of the minds of parents, teachers, scientists and policy makers. As the digital world evolves, so does our understanding of how technology is impacting on children. We need to stay tuned in to the needs of students and ensure they have access to a wide range of learning opportunities.  

The Impacts of Smartphones

Smartphones impact sleep

Children are getting significantly less sleep than they need and research puts this down to screen time. Students that are sleep deprived can be hyper sensitive or more irritable and aggressive, potentially making them the perpetrators or victims of cyberbullying or bullying at school. Lack of sleep can affect their decision making skills on and offline.

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Studies have found that teenagers need eight to nine hours sleep a night to feel rested. But teenagers who have screen time for more than four hours a day are three-and-a-half times more likely to sleep less than five hours a night. Late bedtimes and the bright light from the device effects the circadian rhythm needed for natural, healthy sleep. Teens report headaches, tension and muscle aches, which can be caused by posture when using a device for extended periods. Phones and devices also cause psychological arousal, which makes it difficult for teens to relax before bed.

The dangers of virtual reality

The smartphone and the internet in general do more than affect our sleep. They create a whole new reality. When we use a smartphone, and in particular, the internet, we step into a virtual reality. For some young people, this new reality can be more interesting than real life. It takes us anywhere, and connects us with anyone. It is becoming increasingly difficult to supervise young people on devices so cyber safety programs are essential to address online ethical behaviour and cyber safety.

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We have vast amounts of information at our fingertips, and the opportunity to step into almost any world, or any life we desire. Young people can be exposed to inappropriate material and cyberbullying.

In their virtual lives, young people have a certain control they may feel they don’t have in real life. They can stay anonymous, so there is a perception that their true identity is not impacted by their online behaviours. 

Although it feels like we control our reality in a virtual world, much of the time, the reality controls us. 

New studies show that social media use impacts mental health of teenagers, particularly their self-esteem and well-being. Issues are associated with body image and cyberbullying. ‘Facebook depression’ is a term researchers use to describe this phenomenon.

Cyberbullying is when people are sent hurtful, nasty or threatening messages or photos through the internet. A person’s image or facts about a person might be shared with a large online community in a harmful way. 

One of the dangers of cyberbullying is that it can be hard to track the source. It has a wide impact, as many people see the harmful comments and images. People experiencing cyberbullying may feel defenseless and disempowered, ashamed, guilty and unsafe. Teachers need to have access to internet safety programs and digital citizenship resources to help guide young people in the healthy use of technology, and protect them from associated harmful effects.

Moral obligation when handing over devices

As parents and educators, we need to know the facts and potential consequences of internet use. And we need to connect with internet safety resources and digital citizenship resources, so we can guide safe internet use.

Reach Out provides strategies to help a person who is being cyberbullied:

General cyber safety tips include:

  • Don’t share personal information
  • Ensure privacy settings are correct and up to date

Digital Citizenship provides more information for students, teachers and parents about being safe and responsible online. 

We need to watch out for signs that a young person is being harassed online, such as withdrawal, or refusal to engage with normal activities. Signs of phone addiction include avoiding normal activities and social contact. 

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Stay open to children about their online world and encourage teenagers to talk to you about their concerns, and online behaviours.  In this way, we can help guide young people through this new reality.

Privacy Awareness

Our privacy is valuable. And now, more than ever, we need to protect it.

As a society, we are beginning to understand the consequences of sharing our personal information online. We are becoming increasingly concerned with how our data is being used and misused.

Advances in technology present new risks to our privacy and security. Spam, scams, identity theft and fraud are just some of the risks we face when we use our devices.

With this awareness has come growing concern for the privacy of children and young people online. So how do we keep them safe? 

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Protecting the privacy of children and teens online

Whether we like it or not, devices, apps, games and social media are a big part of life for most kids. And despite the age restrictions, more and more children are logging on to platforms before the age of 13. 

According to a recent article in The Atlantic, the "kid internet" provides children, parents and educators with so many creative and connective possibilities; however, the major platforms are not doing enough to protect children in this growing online space.

Contrary to popular belief, kids do care about their privacy. But they need support and guidance from trusted adults to help them make good decisions and stay safe.

Below are seven tips to help parents and teachers protect the privacy of young people online. 

1. Start conversations about privacy

It's important for cyber safety education to start early. By initiating these conversations from a young age, you are sending the message that privacy is important.

Let kids know they have a right to privacy and there are laws in place to protect it. Discuss the reasons for age restrictions, and explain the risks in an age-appropriate way.

Ask them what they are worried about when it comes to their privacy. Identify areas where they need more knowledge or support.

Cyber safety programs in schools can help start a dialogue about privacy in the classroom, the playground and at home.

2. Help them think before they share

Kids may feel pressured to share their thoughts, feelings and images on social media and may be asked to provide personal details in order to access games and apps. 

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Discuss the idea that personal information has value, just like money. They should be selective about the information they give away, and only provide details that are absolutely necessary. Remind them that posts can be shared without their knowledge, so they should be careful about what they disclose, even to their friends.

Most kids are aware of the concept of a ‘digital footprint’. Remind them that they may feel comfortable sharing something now, but this could change in the future.   

Teach them simple skills, like taking three deep breaths or counting to 10, to help build in a pause before sharing their personal details. 

If they are unsure about whether to share information, they should always ask an adult.

They also need to be aware of scams. We need to take a moment and ask ourselves "is this for real?". With the rise of online scams designed to steal our money, passwords and identities, this is a good tip for kids and adults to keep in mind. 

3. Update privacy settings

It is essential that kids know how to change their privacy settings to control who can access their personal information. Privacy settings need to be tailored according to their age, the platform they are using and the type of information they are sharing. 

Some apps like Snapchat, for example, have settings that allow users to see the current locations of their friends. This can put children at serious risk, so it is important to be aware of these settings and ensure they know how to turn their location services off.

The Office of the eSafety Commissioner provides current information about privacy settings on specific platforms, including defaults and potential risks.

4. Read privacy policies and collection notices

We all know we should read them, but most of us don’t. However, it is really important to read these notices so you understand how information about your children or students is being collected, and how it will be used and protected. 

Involve kids in this process, so they understand what they are giving up when they click 'I agree'.  

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Although most terms and conditions are lengthy and confusing, they contain important information about your privacy rights. To demonstrate this point, a privacy lawyer in England re-wrote Instagram's terms and conditions in plain language. Some of the points that emerged were simply "don't use anybody else's account without their permission or try to find out their login details" and "don't bully anyone or post anything horrible about people". Good advice, right?

According to this easy-to-understand version, users are also advised by Instagram that "officially you own any original pictures and videos you post, but we are allowed to use them, and we can let others use them as well, anywhere around the world". 

5. Manage passwords

Strong, secure passwords are essential for maintaining your privacy. Passwords should be a random combination of numbers, letters and punctuation, and should never include personal information such as birthdates or names. Passwords should be changed regularly and not be used across multiple accounts. Using a password manager is a good way to keep a secure record of all your passwords. 

Explain to your students or children that they must not share their passwords with anyone, especially at school or online. However, it may be appropriate for parents to know their childrens' passwords, in order to monitor online behaviour and keep them safe. 

6. Encourage respectful online behaviour 

Privacy awareness is not just about protecting your own privacy, but also the privacy of others. It is not only a right; it is a responsibility. 

We all have access to information about our friends and families and we need to teach kids that sharing personal details can have a negative impact on others. Before posting something about another person we should stop and ask: Is this information private? Is it sensitive? Is it necessary for me to share it?

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Encourage them to act with empathy, compassion and respect, just as they would in their face-to-face interactions. 

Schools already need to obtain permission before posting students' personal details and images. But parents should also stop and think before sharing information about themselves and their children. Kids will be more likely to take messages about privacy seriously if you model those behaviours yourself.

7. Know how to access information and support

Kids need to know there is always help available if something goes wrong. If they share something they regret or are the target of a scam, there are people they can turn to. The first step should always be to tell a trusted adult, so they can help them decide what to do next.

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The Office of the eSafety Commissioner provides cyber safety information for children, adolescents and adults. They have a complaints and reporting service, which not only responds to complaints of cyberbullying and inappropriate content, but also helps people remove content that has been shared without their consent. 

Stay Smart Online is another government organisation that provides simple information about how to stay safe on the internet and keep your information secure.

Scamwatch and IDCare provide information and support to people who have been the victim of scamming or identity theft.

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner provides advice to the public about managing privacy concerns, including helpful tips for parents and carers.

Brainstorm Productions provide high quality internet safety education to schools across Australia, through theatre, storytelling, post-performance discussions and classroom resources. Each program is designed to encourage students to think about their privacy and take meaningful steps to protect it, including sharing passwords, digital footprint and internet scams.

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Fighting Cyberbullying

As educators, the battles we are fighting, together with parents, to keep children safe online, can feel impossible to beat at times, from inappropriate content to online predators to privacy issues.

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One battle that we can help students with, is teaching them how to deal with cyberbullying. Cyberbullying statistics in Australia have shown “over 80% of those who bullied others online would also do so offline.” Moreover, “84% of those who were bullied online were also victims of bullying behaviour offline.” 

Teaching students to how to manage this social issue is essential if we want to raise a generation that does not tolerate online abuse. The following tips are designed to help students when confronted with cyberbullying:

Cyberbullying tips for students:

Identify it – Students have to recognise what cyberbullying looks like, so that they won’t indulge in it or ignore it. Things like spreading false rumours, mean texts, sharing other people’s images without their consent, threats, hurtful comments and identity theft are all forms of cyberbullying.

Speak up – Reports in Australia have shown how “a quarter of all cyberbullies target people they do not even know.” This means that some students could be cyberbullied simply because the bully — a total stranger — was bored or felt like picking on somebody. Students need to know how to report cyberbullies and when to speak up for the person being victimised. The Office of the eSafety Commissioner provides advice for parents and schools about how to respond to cyberbullying.

Save evidence – Whether it is to stop a cyberbully and help the victim, or to protect themselves, teaching students about the importance of evidence is critical when tackling a cyberbully. Collecting screenshots, emails and messages will all help to shut down the bullying. 

Value privacy – It is important to teach students that certain content, like inappropriate images and videos, or passwords, should never be shared online, no matter how much they trust a person. This content could be used against them as a form of cyberbullying.

Nurture empathyInstilling empathy in students will help keep them away from the temptation of bullying someone online. Moreover, empathy means students will put themselves in someone else’s shoes, so they will find it more difficult to ignore cyberbullying when they see that someone is being abused online.

64% of Australian girls aged 6 to 12 have reported being cyberbullied and this statistic is not taking into account the countless others that were not reported. We can never obliterate cyberbullying but we can give students the skills to shut down online abuse. 

Cyberbullying is a form of bullying that we need to take seriously and battle against, so that tragedies related to such abuse can be avoided.  

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Video Games and Online Gaming

The popularity of digital and online games is rapidly increasing, and it doesn't look like slowing down. Not only are more people playing games, but they’re also watching other people play through live streaming and e-sport tournaments. 

Many parents and teachers are concerned by the fervour surrounding games like Fortnite and the increasing use of games among primary school students. But no matter how you feel about gaming, there's one thing you can be sure of: gaming is here to stay.

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So what's good about gaming?

We spoke to a 17-year-old gamer Max (not his real name) about why he plays video games and what he loves about them. 

As expected, Max's top reason is entertainment - games are just fun! They allow you to explore different worlds, solve puzzles and work towards a goal. Some people use gaming to relieve stress, as a way to relax and unwind at the end of the day. According to technology and learning researcher Joanne Orlando, many kids play games as a form of escapism, and because they're often creative, complex and allow them to achieve success.

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Gaming provides an opportunity for social interaction. Whether it's gaming with friends in the same physical space, or communicating virtually through the game, games provide a shared focus, interest and goal. These interactions can lead to further connections in the real world and help kids meet their social needs. 

Friendships that start with gaming often extend to other shared interests and hobbies, like merchandise collecting, fan art, films, books, sports or non-digital games. Team-based games may also promote cooperation and communication skills. 

Max believes games have helped him develop valuable skills, many of which can be applied in the real world, like problem-solving, reaction time and coordination. And research does suggest that gaming is associated with improvements in cognitive skills such as visual processing, attention, problem-solving and creativity. Specific skills like touch typing, budgeting and financial decision-making can also be developed as a result of playing games.

Games can impart knowledge about the world and historical events. And while not all games have a positive message, some encourage critical thinking about ethics, values and consequences. The increasing popularity of 'serious games' indicates that many parents and educators are now using games to facilitating learning.

What are the risks of gaming?

While most people enjoy problem-free gaming, it isn’t always fun. Our 17-year-old gamer Max identifies one of the major hazards as 'toxic' players who bully, harass, troll or abuse other players, often under the cloak of anonymity. 

Safety is also an issue, particularly for children and young people. The Office of the eSafety Commissioner warns grooming is a real risk within online games, and predators do use games to target children.

Security risks are also rife in online gaming. Scammers create unsecure websites, fake messages requesting financial information, offers of free games or surveys that trick players into giving up their personal details. While the game companies are now doing more to protect their users, security is still a major issue that all players should be aware of.

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Max points out that some kids spend too much time on games. This can cause them to neglect other parts of their life such as family, friends, school or work. They might become obsessed with one game and their interests become restricted. They can lose touch with friends and forget how to socialise outside the game. 

Excessive gaming can impact on sleep, with some kids playing late into the night. This can cause them to feel tired and have difficulty concentrating at school. They may neglect their diet and spend little to no time doing physical activities. 

While only a small proportion of people will experience serious issues with gaming, it's important to know the signs that gaming is becoming a problem for a child or young person. The Office of the eSafety Commissioner notes that kids might become withdrawn, isolated and spend more time in their room. They may be tired all the time or not be looking after their personal hygiene. As Max points out, they might feel angry and anxious, and become obsessed with playing one particular game. 

According to the World Health Organisation, Gaming Disorder may be diagnosed when someone has limited control over their gaming behaviour, prioritises gaming over other activities and interests, and continues or escalates their game-play despite negative consequences. This diagnosis applies only when the problems are sufficiently severe to cause significant impairment in important areas of functioning, and if it has been going on for an extended period of time (i.e. 12 months or more). These problems may also be related to other mental health issues, such as anxiety or depression.

The inclusion of Gaming Disorder in the ICD-11 (the International Classification of Disease) has been the topic of hot debate recently, and further research is needed to better understand this issue. But if you think a young person is having problems with gaming, it's important to get help.

Tips for safe and healthy gaming

Max gave us his top tips for maintaining healthy gaming habits and staying safe on gaming sites.

1. Balance digital gaming with other activities, hobbies and interests

Spend time with friends doing offline activities, like walking, watching movies, playing team sports or playing non-digital games. Even if your common interest is online gaming, and even if you talk about games while you’re doing other things, you need to have balance! Keep a regular routine that involves going to bed at a normal time, eating a healthy diet and doing regular exercise.

2. Play games with other people 

Playing games within a social setting will reduce isolation and help maintain meaningful relationships with friends and peers. Games are a great way to stay connected if you have difficulty socialising and tend to spend time alone. 

3. Play a range of different games

Max finds this helpful for keeping things in perspective and avoiding becoming obsessed with one particular game. He suggests playing games casually and not getting too competitive. He points out that only a tiny proportion of players will go on to become an e-sports ‘pro’, so there’s no need to spend all your time on one platform. 

4. Be alert to predators and scammers

Game companies and streaming platforms are becoming increasingly aware of security and safety risks, and many run ‘bots’ through their content to ensure anything inappropriate is removed and the offending users are ‘timed out’ or blocked. This is not fool-proof, however, and players need to put in place safeguards to protect themselves. For example, only play games that are appropriate for your age. Don't share personal details with people you don't know. And avoid purchasing games or in-game currency from third parties, no matter how good the deals appear to be – stick to the official sites! 

5. If something goes wrong, report it

If you suspect you’ve been scammed, or if you’ve received inappropriate or abusive material, tell a trusted adult and report it to the game’s official support site – they may be able to freeze or block the user’s account until things are resolved.

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Where to go for more information about gaming for primary and high school students

The Office of the eSafety Commissioner provides advice for parents and schools about cyber safety for students and setting limits around screen time. They also provide advice on how to respond to cyberbullying and detailed information about specific games, apps and sites

Staying Connected

A national survey from R U OK? revealed that Australians spend an average of 46 hours of their weekly downtime looking at their TVs and digital devices, compared to an average of six hours engaging with family and friends.

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The suicide prevention charity has also revealed that around half of Australians spend two hours or less of their weekly downtime connecting with the people who matter to them.

R U OK? Campaign Director Rebecca Lewis said the research has highlighted that we’re more intimately acquainted with our devices than the highs and lows of our families’ and friends’ lives. 

“It’s a big wakeup call that we’re spending almost eight times the amount of hours looking at our screens compared to the time we spend engaging with the people who matter to us,” Rebecca said. “We all need to shift that balance and invest some of our screen time into our relationships and the people around us.”

The survey also revealed that while Australians want to spend more quality time connecting with family and friends, distance (38%); being too tired or lacking energy (28%); being busy with other activities (20%); catching up on housework (19%); or long work hours (18%) are the main obstacles preventing that outcome.

R U OK? Board Director and Executive Director of the Black Dog Institute, Professor Helen Christensen, said finding time in our busy schedules for relationships is critical.

“Connecting with people we care about is so important for maintaining good mental health. We know that strong and caring connections with friends and family provide a vital safety net to help people cope with the challenging moments in life,” Helen said. “Conversely, withdrawing from social engagement is often a sign of poor mental health and this is the time when loved ones need to stay connected, no matter how difficult it may be.”

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Respondents to the R U OK? national survey reported that in a typical week they would spend the below number of hours connecting with friends, family and people who matter most to them:

  • 2 hours or less - 49%
  • Between 2 and 5 hours - 23%
  • Between 5 and 10 hours - 17%
  • Between 10 and 20 hours - 8%
  • More than 20 hours - 4%

Respondents reported that in a typical day they would spend the below number of hours browsing social media, browsing the internet and watching television for personal reasons:

  • Less than 5 hours - 33%
  • 5 - 10 hours - 54%
  • More than 10 hours - 13%

Respondents identified the below as reasons preventing them from spending more quality time with friends, family and the people who matter most to them:

Physical distance (e.g. live far away from family and friends) - 38%

  • I am too tired or don't have the energy - 28%
  • I spend a lot of time at other commitments either for myself or my children (e.g. sporting and leisure groups) - 20%
  • I spend my evenings/weekends keeping up with household chores - 19%
  • I work long hours - 18%
  • My family and friends work long or anti-social hours - 15%
  • A feeling that it is all too difficult - 11%
  • Study commitments - 9%
  • I work anti-social hours (e.g. shift work) - 9%
  • Other - 5%

Make time to reconnect

As the official school R U OK? partner, Brainstorm Productions urges students at the end of each performance to remember the importance of catching up with friends, chatting on the phone with family, or visiting elderly relatives. 

By setting aside quality time for those we care about, it makes it easier to sense if someone isn’t doing so well and you can then ask the question “Are you okay?”. 

R U OK? Ambassador and former rugby league player Brett Finch understands the value of connecting with his family and friends offline. “It can be easy to lose contact with people who matter to us because life's hectic. Even if you can’t be there in person, pick up the phone and give someone you care about a call. It’s worth the effort. Having been through some personal battles in recent years, I know how important it is that we’ve got good mates and family to talk to,” Brett said. 

"I’m so grateful that my family and mates reached out to me when I was at my lowest point. I know the difference a sense of connection and support can make. That’s why I want others to do the same for the people in their world,” he said.

Not all the comfortable with the idea of asking someone you care about if they’re OK? The R U OK? website provides advice for young people and adults on not only how to ask the question, but also on how to respond to someone’s answer. 

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Topic 3: Cyber Safety for Primary and High Schools

Technology and social media is all around us and can be used to great effect, however things can easily turn and you can’t always press “undo”. Brainstorm Productions has a range of cyberbullying programs that look at the risks and impacts of the online world on the very real-life world of primary school and high school students.

Rather than conducting a standard lesson plan, Brainstorm Productions gets students engaged in the topic of cyber safety through music, storytelling, drama and conversation. This fresh approach is not only educational, but encourages students to contribute to the process resulting in a positive change in behaviour and attitudes.  

Brainstorm Productions cyber safety programs are designed with a clear aim - to keep students safe online by educating them on the do’s and don’ts of using digital technology and staying true to themselves, including:

DO

  • Think before you post
  • Only connect with friends
  • Be kind to everyone – it’s better to have friends than enemies 
  • Always keep your settings private
  • Report online bullies to parents and teachers – don’t stay silent
  • Remember to block and ignore online bullies
  • Learn and use privacy and friend-only settings 
  • Always report abusive content 
  • Only accept friend requests from people you know
  • Be true to yourself and who you are
  • Know the school’s policy on using social media and comply

DON’T 

  • Don’t share your passwords 
  • Don’t be hurtful towards others or yourself   
  • Don’t stay silent if friends are being bullied online
  • Don’t respond to online bullies
  • Don’t share anything you wouldn’t want your parents or teachers to see

Below you will find the full range of Brainstorm Productions cyber safety programs. Please note not all programs are touring at all times. Click here to view current touring school shows.

Cyber Safety Programs for Primary School Students:

The Protectors

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The Protectors is an emotional wellbeing resource that has been researched and developed in association with teachers and students. It offers concrete solutions children can practice to protect themselves from hurtful comments and negative behaviours they may encounter in the playground.

Clear instructions on cyber safety are delivered in a fun, memorable way. Children will be able to empathise and appreciate the devastating consequences of cyber bullying. 'The Protectors' unlocks the secrets of body language and gives 'Protector Tools' to curb aggressive behaviour.

Key Themes:

  • Assertiveness
  • Bullying
  • Bystanders
  • Compassion
  • Conflict resolution
  • Cyber bullying
  • Cyber safety
  • Digital citizenship
  • Empathy
  • Exclusion
  • Passive aggression
  • Positive behaviours
  • Positive relationships
  • Problem solving
  • Resilience
  • Respect
  • Rumours
  • Self esteem
  • Stress management
  • Teasing

The Human Race

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The Human Race is an anti bullying and resilience program for primary schools that reinforces positive relationships, and provides resources to help reduce the incidence of bullying at school and online. It encourages tolerance, kindness, respect and empathy.

Dunc has been bullied. No one wants to be his partner in the race. Dunc’s loyalty, honesty and tenacity are his greatest strengths but, if he is to win the physical, artistic and mental challenges in the Human Race, he will have to overcome his low self-esteem.

Deedee has lied about her age and alienated people by posting mean photos and comments on social media. She is horrified when she has to enter the race with Dunc, the most "uncool kid in the whole school".

Dunc and Deedee need to be respectful and compassionate, play by the rules and do their best to reach their potential as citizens of the world. Can they use their skills in conflict resolution and problem solving to complete the challenges?

Key Themes

  • Assertiveness
  • Bullying
  • Bystanders
  • Compassion
  • Conflict resolution
  • Cooperation
  • Cyber bullying
  • Cyber safety
  • Decision making
  • Digital citizenship
  • Empathy
  • Exclusion
  • Peer pressure
  • Problem solving
  • Relationships
  • Resilience
  • Respect
  • Restorative practices
  • Social skills
  • Values

Sticks & Stones K/P-6

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When things go wrong in Toby’s life, or he feels frightened or threatened, he gets all churned up inside. His body tells him to fight, his dad and other kids tell him to fight, even TV shows and video games tell him to fight. He’s always in trouble, and is unhappy at home and at school.   

He learns to stop, breathe, put his hands in his pockets, walk away, count to ten and talk about his feelings. He learns how to stay safe at school and online.

When Toby decides to break the habit and take responsibility for his own actions he begins to develop positive relationships. He stands tall, becomes assertive and co-operates with other kids to create a circus routine, with acrobatics, unicycling and juggling.  

Key Themes:

  • Aggression
  • Anger management
  • Assertiveness
  • Bullying
  • Conflict resolution
  • Cooperation
  • Cyber safety
  • Empathy
  • Friendship
  • Impulse control
  • Positive behaviours
  • Positive relationships
  • Resilience
  • Respect
  • Self esteem
  • Social skills
  • Stop Think Do
  • Kindness

Saving Lil and Archie

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There is pandemonium on Planet Arkon when two robots, Lil and Zig, are zapped to earth and into the lives of two 12 year olds, Bella and Archie. Bella is being bullied and Archie has no friends.

Through their encounters with these unexpected guests, Bella learns to be assertive and to 'report' and 'log off', or walk away, when her connections become negative and nasty. Archie begins to understand his emotions and the emotions of others.

Archie realises that lack of sleep and hours of screen time make him angry and unable to make positive connections with real people. In order to restore the balance, Archie learns that he must control his impulses and engage in more positive behaviours so that Lil and Zig can return to Arkon.

Key Themes:

  • Aggression
  • Anti-social behaviour
  • Assertiveness
  • Bullying
  • Conflict resolution
  • Cooperation
  • Cyber bullying
  • Cyber safety
  • Digital citizenship
  • Empathy
  • Excessive screen time
  • Impulse control
  • Positive online connections
  • Positive relationships
  • Resilience
  • Respect
  • Responsible use of technology
  • Safety
  • Self esteem
  • Social skills
  • Stop Think Do
  • Friendship

The H Team

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This exciting adventure story fosters teamwork, critical thinking skills, self-discipline and physical fitness, and highlights the power of the bystander.

Unhealthy competition about body shape, brand name clothes, toys and gadgets can cause division in the playground and online. Some children feel embarrassed and alienated and others use their power to tease and intimidate.

The H Team inspires this generation of children to outsmart the media, the junk food giants, the advertising gurus and the bullies to create a healthy and harmonious school community.

Key Themes:

  • Advertising
  • Assertiveness
  • Bullying
  • Bystanders
  • Concentration
  • Consumerism
  • Cyber bullying
  • Cyber safety
  • Decision making
  • Excessive screen time
  • Healthy lifestyles
  • Media pressure
  • Motivation
  • Peer pressure
  • Positive behaviours
  • Resilience
  • Self esteem
  • Teasing
  • Values
  • Wellbeing 

The Magic Words

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Zanna and Rolf learn that bullying, telling lies online, and posting hurtful comments and photos on social media can have damaging consequences. Rolf discovers that the secret to happiness is giving and receiving respect, being proud of your actions and achievements, and co-operating to reach a goal. Powerful insights indeed!

Senior students will learn the impact of peer pressure, plagiarism, fraud and telling lies. We also address tact and other positive life skills that will protect them in the future.

Key Themes:

  • Bullying
  • Cooperation
  • Cyber bullying
  • Cyber safety
  • Digital citizenship
  • Empathy
  • Ethics
  • Happiness
  • Kindness
  • Honesty
  • Manners
  • Relationships
  • Resilience
  • Respect
  • Self esteem
  • Self respect
  • Social skills
  • Values

 

Cyber Safety Programs for High School Students:

Verbal Combat

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When cyber bullying is anonymous and undercover:

WHO’S responsible?

WHAT drives cyber bullies to send that nasty message, post that hurtful comment or embarrassing photo on Facebook or Snapchat?

WHY are some people more likely to be a target and why is it hard for victims to be assertive or resilient?

WHERE can they go if or when they are being cyber bullied?

HOW can we stop cyber bullying from happening?

A cleverly crafted narrative allows students to examine these questions AND their own behaviour.

Key Themes:

  • Alienation
  • Bullying
  • Bystanders
  • Consequences
  • Cyber bullying
  • Cyber safety
  • Digital citizenship
  • Empathy
  • Exclusion
  • Gossip
  • Harassmen
  • Insults
  • Isolation
  • Manipulation
  • Positive relationships
  • Resilience
  • Responsible use of technology
  • Rumours
  • Safety
  • Social media
  • Texting
  • Threats

Sticks & Stones yrs 7-10

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Two energetic young performers explore the different forms of bullying at school, in the street, at home and online.  

Toby is falling into destructive patterns of aggressive behaviour. When he meets Joe, he starts to understand how these behaviours have emerged, and develops strategies for conflict resolution, anger management, assertiveness, and breaking the cycle of violence.

School yard scenarios are used to encourage students to have empathy and understanding: invading people’s personal space, homophobic and racist remarks, family violence and intimidation, in person or online, are all illegal and can have serious consequences. 

This award winning show shines a spotlight on negative patterns of behaviour that can develop through inappropriate modeling from peers, family members, TV and video games. It examines the link between hormones, the fight/flight response, aggression and violence. 

The hard hitting narrative is punctuated with circus skills to demonstrate co-operation and strategies for improving self-control through breath, focus and channelling energy into positive pursuits.     

Key Themes: 

  • Aggression
  • Anger management
  • Assertiveness
  • Breaking cycle of violence
  • Bullying
  • Compassion
  • Communication skills
  • Conflict resolution
  • Consequences
  • Cooperation
  • Cyber bullying
  • Cyber safety
  • Domestic violence
  • Empathy
  • Exclusion
  • Homophobia
  • Legal Consequences
  • Positive behaviours
  • Problem solving
  • Resilience
  • Respectful relationships
  • Safety
  • Self control
  • Digital Citzenship

The Flipside

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When bullying and revenge are used to wield power, Jack and Ella realise they must create an ethical roadmap for the internet. When people post words or images, how will they be received? What will be the consequences?

The Flipside will change student's perspectives on what's humorous, toxic, private, humiliating, informative, safe or appropriate. The performance provides strategies for positive, ethical communication online.

Key Themes: 

  • Communication
  • Cyber bullying
  • Cyber safety
  • Digital citizenship
  • Digital footprint
  • Ethical online behaviour
  • Empathy
  • Impulse control
  • Online gaming
  • Responsible use of technology
  • Social media
  • Digital Citzenship

The Hurting Game

Cyber Safety Ultimate Guide 36

Samantha’s group spread rumours and alienate her. She becomes obsessed with body image and constantly compares herself with other girls in the media, the playground and on social media.

Desperate to fit in, Jimmy succumbs to peer pressure and becomes the tough guy harassing and bullying other students with homophobic remarks, deliberately failing maths, binge drinking and playing the fool.

They slowly begin to realise that their interactions on social media can affect their mental health and emotional wellbeing, and could have lifelong implications.

Key Themes: 

  • Alienation
  • Binge drinking
  • Body image
  • Bullying
  • Consequences
  • Cyber bullying
  • Cyber footprint
  • Cyber safety
  • Digital citizenship
  • Dumbing down
  • Eating disorders
  • Harassment
  • Homophobia
  • Peer pressure
  • Positive relationships
  • Resilience
  • Rumours
  • Self esteem
  • Social media
  • Social skills 

Cyberia

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Ruby loses her moral compass on blogs, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and MSN. She is instantly banished to "Cyberia". Tim is in self-imposed exile playing online games.

When they indulge in cyber bullying and anti-social behaviour it creates havoc in the real world.

They suddenly realise they can't just press the "undo" button to retrieve their relationships, reputation, dignity and most of all their privacy.

In consultation with IT, education and mental health experts, our creative team have woven together true stories of Gen Y/Z's internet experiences. It poses questions about how the digital age is affecting our brains, our humanity and our future.

Key Themes: 

  • Alienation
  • Computer addiction
  • Consequences
  • Cyber bullying
  • Cyber safety
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Digital reputation
  • Exclusion
  • Gaming addiction
  • Impulse control
  • Internet addiction
  • Internet security
  • Isolation
  • Online reputation
  • Positive relationships
  • Resilience
  • Responsible use of technology
  • Rumours
  • Self esteem
  • Sexting
  • Social media
  • Stress

 

Topic 4: Why use Theatre for Cyber Safety Education? 

Theatre as an effective cyber safety resource

Theatre in education is a unique tool for bringing the digital world to life. Through theatre, we have the ability to create a world that reflects the online space students inhabit daily, but may not think of as a ‘real’ space. Theatre has the potential to use creative theatrical devices and magic realism to bring the online space to life in an engaging way.

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When watching live theatre, high school students witness, and empathise with relatable and credible characters who are faced with choices. Students see the consequence of making certain choices. The intensity of the relationship between audience and characters is heightened by the fact that actors are real people, and the action is live. There is also interaction between the audience and actors throughout the shows.

The origin of the ancient art form theatre first appears in the 3rd century BC and was used in festivals that honoured the Greek god Dionysus. Digital citizenship, on the other hand, was only established during the 1990's technology boom, as a way to help structure what was considered appropriate and inappropriate use of technology.

So, how is a 2,000 year old ancient art form helping students connect more effectively using today’s technology? Let’s have a look at five reasons why:

1.) Let’s face facts

Australia Council’s most recent survey uncovered that ‘9 in 10 Australians think The Arts are an important part of education’ and the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) agrees that drama is a powerful tool to engage and motivate students and can improve an individual’s sense of purpose and identity, positively changing the direction of student’s lives.

In addition, Australia’s largest research project based around the benefits of theatre in education was led by the University of South Australia and demonstrated just how powerful performance art can be for students in becoming more critically aware and developing a deeper understanding of their world and their role within it.

For students to be good digital citizens, they need all these skills to behave safely and responsibly online.

pic 2 Copy

2.) Building positive relationships

Theatre has been in existence for thousands of years and has played an important role in helping humanity understand their emotions, what it means to be a part of the human race as well as providing solutions to life’s dilemmas. Storytelling is one of the oldest and most powerful techniques we have to communicate and according to Scientific American, we are hardwired to love stories from birth.

Theatre and storytelling helps students understand the human condition, how to express themselves more effectively and can be one of the most important educational tools for helping young people understand empathy, compassion and building positive relationships both online and offline. As George Bernard Shaw wrote, ‘The Arts are the window to the soul’.

Bullying Program 2015

3.) Helping students succeed

There is literally a mountain of research that demonstrates that students who participate in The Arts will perform better academically. Theatre is vital not only to students’ grades, but also to their success at developing and being good digital citizens. Theatre helps teach us about ourselves and others. It helps students to see how their behaviour online affects others and what changes they can make to improve their lives.

The former Australian Cultural Ministers Council was quite clear when they said that The Arts play a major role in helping to develop the skills needed for the next generation: 

“An education rich in creative arts maximises opportunities for learners to engage with innovative thinkers and leaders, and to experience the arts both as audience members and as artists. Such an education is vital to students’ success as individuals and as members of society, emphasising not only creativity and imagination, but also the values of cultural understanding and social harmony that the arts can engender.”

How Theatre in Education Helps with Student Empathy 1

4.) Shared learning

Rather than learning about digital citizenship through individual modules, text books or online, theatre is a great way to bring students together in a shared, informal learning experience.

The consequences of online issues such as cyberbullying, how to stay safe, keeping personal information private, reporting cyberbullying, how to balance online time, online gaming and chatting, digital reputation, sexting, offensive online behaviour, trolling and the serious risks of unwanted contact with strangers; all come alive right before the students eyes. They can see, but also more importantly feel, how these actions can have significant impacts.

Theatre reminds students that people, not technology, is at the centre of positive digital citizenship.   

Brainstorm productions bullying no way

5.) Taking on the challenge

Cyber safety and the effects of cyberbullying can touch anyone. These issues do not reside with any given economic, social or cultural background. Theatre is an educational tool that can reach out and captivate ALL students. It can provide ways of engaging with students who are otherwise resistant, can challenge students to transform damaging online behaviour and can help students understand how and where to get help.

Drama reflects student’s real-life experiences and can be a catalyst for not only changing any negative or risky online behaviours, but also empowering students to start a dialogue with each other about what is acceptable online. 

Using drama can have a significant effect on student’s digital behaviour, because it provides the opportunity for students to understand other people’s perspectives and delivers real-life solutions to online issues.

the protectors gallery 2

 

Topic 5: Teachers and Cyber Safety Education using Drama 

Testimonials

While cyber safety for young people is a very serious topic, Brainstorm Productions uses a methodology that addresses the big issues while still making students feel understood by using inspiring stories, humour and drama; which appeals to student’s emotions and makes the learning experience highly engaging and memorable. 

Here are a few testimonials from both teachers and students:

Teachers:

"This incursion delivered internet safety messages in a fun, interactive way, opposed to a dry lecture and slide show. Role play and performance was very relevant to students as they learn to be nice people, as well as being nice online. Discussion time at the end was great to emphasise cyber safety aspects. Highly recommended - 10/10." Bandiana Primary School, Yrs P-6, The Magic Words

“Enthralled!!Totally engaged!!!!Loved the actions and interaction! Kids were switched on, interested and entertained! Age appropriate relatable topics and messages: internet safety, screen time, friendship, bullying. Excellent blend of current lexicon with valued concepts. 10/10” Baden Powell College, Saving Lil and Archie

“Riveting!! Zappy!! Slick!! Relevant, realistic, fantastic, interesting, factual information to use in everyday life. Messages clearly articulated, students joined in the song and answers in the Q & A showed they had taken in the information about healthy eating, sleep, screen time, positive relationships, positive mindsets, bullying and caring. Active, energetic, fun, worthwhile and value for money. Actors were amazing and the content was fantastic! Brilliant! Couldn’t fault it!!” Grange Primary School, The H Team

“Highly energetic, engaging, articulate! Multiple strategies to deal with bullying. Loved the song and great range of level-appropriate lesson plans and activities. Actions with verbal cues reinforced the strategies about cyber bullying and cyber safety - 'Tell, Block, Delete'. Friendly professional actors. Very good product. I would highly recommend to other schools.10/10” McAuley Catholic College, The Protectors

“Excellent! Successfully addressed a number of current issues faced by all ages with social media, photos posted, trust and the involvement of police in cases of cyber bullying. Highly recommended 10/10.” St Benedict’s College Brisbane, Cyberia

To read more, click here. 

Students:

"I enjoyed the show. It told me to be safe online and never give away personal information. They also told us not to bully or fight, and to always take a deep breath. I really liked their acting, it was really funny. I wish we have it every year!" Primary school student, Sticks and Stones K-6

"I learned that fighting is never the answer, and if someone is bullying you then take a deep breath and put your hands in your pockets and walk away. I learnt to be safe on online games and to ask your parents or have supervision. And I learnt how to control anger." Primary school student, Sticks and Stones K-6

"The complex issues surrounding the misuse of technology and the damage caused by cyberbullying were all brought to life through this play. The play provided guidelines around cyberbullying, the effects of too much screen time, internet safety, and protecting our online reputation. We look forward to welcoming [Brainstorm] back again." Yr 9 students, Marist College Eastwood, Cyberia

“Loved this!......I got it!...That was great!.....Fabulous actions....clever moves..... It’s happened to me.....Can we get them again?” Students, St Ignatius, The Hurting Game

“Great to have a story rather than ‘do this’ or ‘do that’...... seeing a performance makes it easy to understand...... It was really ‘moving’..... the music interpretation was awesome....the voiceovers were really effective....great characters...bullying effects other people’s lives....fabulous play.....very entertaining.....looking forward to their next one.....fast changes were amazing.... liked the way they stayed in character and focussed..... story line was very appropriate....good job....helps us understand what bullying really is and how it affects people.....100/10...yes that's right. 100/10.” Students, Ogilvie High School, Verbal Combat

To read more, click here. 

 

Crisis Helplines

Support is available for anyone who may be distressed: Lifeline 13 11 14; Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800; Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467. If you or someone you know requires immediate assistance, please call Emergency Services (000) or Lifeline (13 11 14). Other supports can be found at www.ruok.org.au/findhelp.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Under no circumstances will Brainstorm Productions or its employees be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on information obtained from this site. It is your responsibility to evaluate any content provided and seek professional advice as appropriate. Never disregard professional advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this site.

Primary School Programs

Being Brave
Encourages emotional wellbeing and resilience in the face of bullying, change and loss.
The H Team
Encourages critical thinking skills to stop bullying and unhealthy behaviours.
Buddies2
Develops cyber safety and social skills to help combat bullying.
Saving Lil & Archie
Provides strategies for emotional health, balance and positive connections.
The Human Race
Bullying program that inspires resilience, kindness and inclusion.
Sticks and Stones K-6
Provides strategies for emotion regulation, impulse control and positive relationships.
The Protectors
Addresses anti bullying in schools with strategies for resilience, assertiveness and online safety.
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High School Programs

The Hurting Game
Inspires students to build positive relationships, both online and offline.
Cheap Thrills
Explores mental health and coping, and the potential consequences of risk-taking and substance use.
Wired
Educational theatre that supports student mental health and emotional wellbeing.
Cyberia
Strategies to stop cyber bullying and develop empathy, resilience and positive mental health.
Cyber safety program to encourage critical thinking and ethical behaviour online.
Verbal Combat
Addresses the impact of bullying and inspires positive bystander behaviour.
Sticks and Stones 7-10
Encourages respectful relationships, impulse control and anti bullying in high schools.
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Brainstorm Productions is certified to provide Online Safety Programs by the Office of the eSafety Commissioner.

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Freecall: 1800 676 224

Address: PO Box 804, Alstonville NSW 2477
Fax:  02 6628 5009
ABN: 17 088 834 637
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