Forward by Julie Inman Grant, eSafety Commissioner
Guiding young people to positively shape their digital practices has never been more important. In an increasingly tech-driven world, young people find it challenging to make the distinction between their online and offline worlds. Whether it’s for school, socialising, or entertainment, almost everything teens do is enabled through an internet-connected device.
While this exposure to digital technology can create diverse and rich experiences, our research shows that young people also encounter a number of negative experiences online, such as being left out by others, having mean things posted about them or experiencing image-based abuse through digital devices or social media.
While these negative experiences can be hurtful and damaging, we know through our research and day to day contact with young people, teens can recognise the positive outcomes that arise from these incidents. Whether it’s realising who their “true friends” are, being able to identify and effectively manage online risks or helping a friend through online strife, teens do feel more empowered as they develop digital resilience. By definition, resilience is the process of bouncing back in the face of adversity, and enabling teens to develop this skill is increasingly important.
We also know that during tough times young people often turn to their peers. I firmly believe that for young people to share these experiences and strategies, having the right eSafety information to share with friends is an important way for young people to positively shape their digital communities, and get the support that they need. This is where The YeS Project will help.
The YeS Project focuses on improving digital culture and bolstering young people’s support networks. It encourages teachers and students to explore the pros and cons of various digital practices, communities and values, sparking important conversations and problem solving in the classroom.
Additionally, it provides teachers with authentic insight into students’ digital experiences so they too can be empowered to encourage the right help-seeking behaviours. By facilitating these interactive workshops, guided by The YeS Project modules, young people will better understand the complexity of their digital world and the implications for their everyday lives.