Young people take a stand against cyberbullying and online hate speech
UNICEF and the Foundation Telekom for Macedonia co-create an online campaign for safer digital spaces with adolescents
Skopje, 22 May 2023: UNICEF together with the Foundation Telekom for Macedonia is organizing a series of workshops with children and young people to co-create communication initiatives against cyberbullying and hate speech in the digital space.
During the workshops that started this weekend, 30 children and young people participated in design thinking sessions and facilitated group work to conceptualize a campaign and develop messaging.
“Adolescence is the best time to stimulate creative thinking and innovation. This is also the best age to learn how to solve problems and care for others,” said Patrizia DiGiovanni, UNICEF Representative at the opening of the workshop. “That’s why I’m really excited to see how young people will engage and tackle one of the biggest challenges that they themselves have identified– cyberbullying and hate speech.”
As a generation that spends a lot of their time online, young people are under the greatest threat of online hate speech and cyberbullying. These are peculiar phenomena of the modern society, which cause growing concerns and problems for young people, but also for their parents, guardians and educators.
A recent national U-Report poll shows that in the past year 24 per cent of young respondents had felt under threat online, one in three respondents had been a victim of cyberbullying i.e. most often insulted or belittled, and that cyberbullying mainly happens on social media (71%) and in chats (12%).
"Young people today have a really difficult task, apart from fighting hate in the real world and in the online world. And our task is to encourage them, to give them a voice to build hate-free internet," said Lea Lipsha, Director of the Telecom Foundation for Macedonia, at the opening of the workshops.
During the workshop, young people learned more about cyberbullying, how to recognize and prevent it, they defined behavioral change goals of the campaign and worked on a compelling narrative. Guided through a design thinking process they defined target groups and developed campaign plan and product concepts.
In the spirit of co-creation, the entire process is led by children and young people, guided by psychologists, creative and communication experts. The aim is to provide space to young people to create a digital campaign to making the internet a safer space for children and youth.
Workshops will continue the following weekend when participants will be focusing on producing the videos and other communication material. The campaign will be launched in June.
Under the title “Together for a hate-free internet”, this initiative is part of the long-term partnership between UNICEF and Telekom Foundation for Macedonia aimed to engage children and young people in tackling some of the biggest challenges facing their generation.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.mk.