My name is MaryKate and while I’m studying abroad in Berlin this semester, I have the opportunity of working with VISIONEERS. Last Tuesday, I was able to attend one of VISIONEERS’ computer safety workshops. We went to a school and taught a class of eight students about WhatsApp safety and it was really cool to see how engaged the students were. They seemed to have a lot of fun while learning about an important topic.
With their computer safety workshops, VISIONEERS’s goal is to educate at risk young people about the potential dangers on the Internet. The workshops are geared toward teens that experience hardships that range from refugee/asylum seeker status to drug addiction. With these small group workshops, the hope is that the participants will have a practical understanding of how to have a safer online presence.
This is especially important because many populist and radical groups use social media as a mode for recruitment. These groups target already vulnerable teens. Since it is nearly impossible to censor everything that is posted on the Internet, there is a lot of “fake news” out there. With this “fake news”, radical groups are able to manipulate, and ultimately, radicalize young people.
Because of the large amount of time young people spend on the Internet, they are consistently at risk of being exposed to “fake news”. But, by teaching young people how to identify “fake news” and how to be more secure online, they will be less susceptible to radical groups’ tactics for radicalization. In addition to learning about “fake news”, workshop participants learn about safety on social media.
With workshops on Facebook, WhatsApp, and YouTube, the participants learn how to adjust their privacy settings and post responsibly on these sites. The emphasis on being careful about what you share on social media is twofold. First, it addresses the dangers of over-sharing personal information on the Internet (credit card information, addresses, etc.). And second, it reinforces the permanence of what you post on the Internet so that young people can have a positive online presence.
The workshop groups are kept small. Hopefully, the participants will take what they learned in the workshop and spread the information to their peers. And since young people are more likely to listen to their peers, the information shared at VISIONEERS’s workshops should reach more young people than those who originally attended the workshop. By directly educating a few, these workshops are making important information available for many young people.
We would like to express our thanks for the support offered by House of Resources Berlin through the
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