A Handbook: On Virtual Dragons and How to Slay Them

By Diya Mehta

More and more, this thing feels like a web. Not only for its name of course, though it is a nice sentiment. The World Wide Web. More and more, this thing does feel like a web, bringing us all together, connecting us, linking us, allowing us to see all the way into the four corners of the Earth, allowing us to see where we haven’t had vision before.Especially for young people, who have never not felt the influence of these strands. IT (it, IT) has become part of us, imbued into our genetic code, as much a part of our lives as breathing and sleeping.

Wake up. Cleanse. Check Twitter. Eat. Check Instagram.

Repeat.

The trouble with this web, however, is that the individual strands that make it up are weak. Vulnerable. And behind each of these strands is a person, who is also weak and vulnerable and needs help.But there are a variety of ways to pull these strands taut, to make sure that everyone is educated and informed in online etiquette and knows how to keep themselves safe. 

And so today, let us journey through the interweb, exploring the hidden nooks and crannies, all while arming ourselves with resources and websites that will keep us safe. Be warned, here be dragons. (The kind that we can slay.)

First Stop: The Not-So-Awesome Part of the Internet

While online, sometimes people need a reality check. We can all feel lulled into a false sense of security, our screens providing an anonymity that allows us to do things we wouldn’t normally do. We can certainly use the Internet for good, but too often someone slips us and does something that hurts others. Therefore, we must learn to Keep it Tame.

Keep it Tame is an online campaign that reminds us of the importance of respect online, and provides us with the resources to help ourselves and others if something bad does happen. It provides a myriad of online resources and helplines, as well as suggesting strategies and guidelines that you can enforce to protect yourself. Respect is paramount, especially in the context of the Internet, and Keep it Tame reminds us of this, making sure we use the Internet for the forces of good, not evil.

With a variety of inspiring quotes, all typified in beautiful design, Appreciate a Mate allows us to love other people without hassle. Simply choosing and personalising these love notes can brighten someone’s day, and make them feel good about themselves. You can choose to remind someone of their legendary nature, or to see the rainbow in the rain, and send it to them. This helps to foster positive body image and bolster our self-esteem; when we recognise that what makes us us, all those idiosyncrasies and quirks are appreciated, we broaden our perspective of ourselves beyond our appearance. We become more than our reflection, rather we are a sum of all the things inside us, all the complex characteristics that form our person. And, in the few seconds it takes your appreciation to be sent through the web, you’ve already made someone’s day better. Appreciate a Mate allows us to get back to what is really important, and make sure that we show our love, all in an exceedingly simple way.

And moving on, we have arrived at Stressville, Stressvania.

Sometimes, everyday life can feel almost too much. We are afloat in a world that weighs us down with expectations and obligations and deadlines. And we often choose to ignore these problems, leaving them be in the hope they will go away. But alas, these problems manifest themselves in the form of intractable strain, following us around and killing our vibe.

Metaphor time.

Some might say they are the zombies of our psyche, haunting us with stress and frustration and other negative emotions.

And look, how convenient, there’s a website to combat these zombies.

Something Haunting You is a user-friendly online resource that provides young people with engaging ways to deal with their stress. Something Haunting You provides us with day-to-day scenarios, and presents the different ways we can deal with our stress in these situations. Following this trend line of stress-zombies, we see how ignoring them exacerbates and dealing with them heals. From body image to family issues, Something Haunting You has suggestions and ways that you can help yourself in any situation, providing an armoury of weapons to slay the stress-zombies.

All aboard. We have reached our next stop: Goalzie.

Challenge. Do. Prove. These are the three words that encapsulate the premise of Goalzie; a Dare game with high stakes and irresistible competition. Like any other game of Dare, you choose a challenge for your friend to complete, only this time there are ways to ensure the follow-through. On top of a dare, you also choose a consequence they must complete if they fail to deliver.

Goalzie allows us to realise the importance of setting goals, as well as making sure we implement them, in a fun, engaging context. Time flies when you’re having fun, and you won’t even realise that you’ve improved upon your goal setting and planning skills, especially since your eye’s on the clock.

In all this, we must remember that someone has designed these things. What makes all these campaigns so successful is that they have been guided, shaped and crafted by the brains of young people. This is integral to establishing a connection with your audience; you want to make sure the register, vernacular and tone you use are user-friendly. Allowing young people to provide input allows for a tangible connection, from one teen to another. Adults are not teenagers, such is the truth, and so they will never be able to inhabit the headspace of one. But when kids design things for kids, the result is more palpable, and less likely to be a gimmicky frills-and-thrills rabbit hole.

All these campaigns work, because they have been designed by the target audience for the target audience alongside researchers, representative from digital media agencies and a range of project partners. No one can know us better than our wider selves, and thus the product is engaging, accessible and substantial due to this knowledge sharing process.

And here ends our journey through the perilous and darkened corners of cyberspace. We emerge victorious and unscathed, now armed with the knowledge of how to protect ourselves and others, true Knights of the Realm of WWW.

Bio An Online Campaign Collaborator for the Safe and Well Online Project, Diya was involved in the design and production of Something Haunting You and Goalzie and continues to work in participation with the Safe and Well Online Project, working to ensure a better quality of content and attitude on the Internet. Diya is currently in Year 9 at MLC Girls School. 

 

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