Today’s high school students have grown up using smartphones and iPads, and most have had a digital footprint since birth.
In 2015, eighty-two per cent of teens were online, according to ACMA research, and 80 per cent used a smartphone. These figures rise every year.
For teens, the online world and the ‘real’ world are heavily integrated.
But how do we behave online? Is the right behaviour in ‘real life’ always applicable online?
To reap the benefits of being online, teenagers need to become digital citizens. A digital citizen has the skills and knowledge to use digital technology safely.
A responsible digital citizen needs to be guided by a dynamic roadmap for ethical online behaviour, which changes and adapts to keep up with technological developments.
Who better to develop this roadmap than the users themselves?
Educational theatre helps high school students create an ethical roadmap for online behaviour
Brainstorm Productions is excited to announce the launch of a new high school production called The Flipside, which equips students with resources and strategies to behave ethically online. Developed in consultation with a clinical psychologist and teachers, The Flipside is a credible and useful internet safety resource for teachers and students.
The Flipside combines the ‘real’ world with the virtual world, and encourages high school students to reflect on the way these two worlds are integrated. It showcases the positive and negative sides of the digital world: connection and information versus unethical online behaviour.
The Flipside helps high school students develop a digital roadmap for online behaviour, which is consistent with their values, by showcasing choices, and the consequences of choosing harmful and dangerous online behaviour.
A roadmap guided by values, rather than rules
Rules are there to guide us and make us safe. But a rule is only effective if it is meaningful and relevant. If we are simply told what to do ‘just because’, we are less likely to follow the rule.
If rules are driven by values, though, the rules becoming more meaningful. A roadmap for high school digital citizens needs to reflect what is important to them.
If a high school student believes it is important to be kind to others online, as well as in real life, for example, they are more likely to be kind online. Likewise, if a student believes it is ethical to respect others’ privacy online, they are more likely to respect it, rather than simply being told they have to.
The Flipside theatre production and resources encourage high school students to reflect on their own values, and help them formulate their own strategies and solutions. High school students come away with a clearer picture about their own values, which helps them make positive and ethical choices online.
As responsible digital citizens, with an adequate roadmap to ethical behaviour, high school students can reap the benefits of being online.
The flip side
The negative side of digital use, like cyber bullying, mental health concerns and sleep deprivation, is given a lot of press. But there is a flip side.
Social media, for instance, links teenagers to their peers, and gives them another opportunity to engage in a social network.
Social media and the internet expose students to local and global news and opinions, which educate and feed into the students’ values. Teenagers are also busy forming values, by following role models online.
With so much information and so many free online courses available on the internet, teenagers have endless opportunities to learn and develop intellectually and creatively. Teenagers creating blog and social media identities have a platform for self expression and creativity.
And if teens are struggling, the internet gives them another support resource, and possibly a place to reach out to others who can help them.
Brainstorm’s new production The Flipside helps high school students engage with the benefits of being online.
Theatre is 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.
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 audience and actors throughout the production.
Educational theatre as a collaborative online safety resource
Theatre not only leaves an emotional residue with students. It becomes a talking point.
High school students and teachers are encouraged to discuss the themes in The Flipside, following the performance.
Brainstorm provides teacher’s resources for The Flipside, developed by a secondary drama and English teacher who has worked at secondary colleges in Brisbane, Melbourne and Berlin. The teacher’s resources aim to get students thinking about how they use social media.
The Flipside gives high school students practical tools they can use to navigate the digital world. The THINK tool, for instance, is used to guide ethical online behaviour, and is an effective and popular digital citizenship resource. Adapted from My Girl Talk campaign, and used broadly in popular culture, THINK is an acronym:
Before you text, type, speak or post, think whether your message is:
Tools such as THINK are provided in The Flipside’s teacher’s resources.
Armed with effective and engaging online safety resources, and an awareness of their personal values, high school students develop an ethical roadmap for online behaviour, which is both meaningful and effective.