During school closures young people (and adults alike) are having to adapt to changes to their usual day-to-day lives. Most young people are spending more time at home, and more time online. We asked our Digital Champions for their advice for other young people on how to keep well during this period.
The Digital Champions are Digital Leaders from across the country who were successful in applying to be ambassadors of the Digital Leaders Programme, representing the Digital Leader community and supporting the Childnet team.
Below you can read the fantastic and creative ideas the Childnet Digital Champions shared:
My top tips for these testing times are –
Keep occupied – The Olympics are cancelled, do your own! Create activities for you and your family in your garden or living room! It’s exercise but fun 🙂
Watch Netflix, watch cheesy shows to cheer you up!
Try not to focus on the bad figures – While there are live tolls of the numbers of cases, there are also live tolls on the recovered cases, try to keep track of that 🙂
Download zoom or Houseparty to stay in touch with friends and family – We are so lucky to have the internet and technology during these tough times so make the most of it! Use your phones and iPads to keep in touch with your friends and family! Especially grandparents, they are the ones who are likely to be alone so your video call could really lift both yours and their spirits!
Self-care – Do a face mask, buy yourself a nice bit of makeup to make yourself look gorgeous – for you! Get some chocolate on amazon or even a new football, we can’t go out so treat yourself 🙂
Talk to someone if you’re feeling down! If you’re worried or anxious tell a parent or a friend, worries are not one of those things that you want to keep to yourself, let it out and you will feel much better about it!
I have been setting myself up with a routine daily in terms of what I want to get accomplished. It’s really helped me, because I think as school-oriented people who have been taken out of that environment quite suddenly, we do suffer from not having an element of structure in our lives even when there’s not so much we need to do. The way to do this is not necessarily to plan things out by time but set yourself a couple of goals, if there’s something you particularly want/have wanted to do/learn etc.
I’m finding that learning a language and taking daily classes on Duolingo is something positive I can work towards daily and over a larger span of time.
I would also say sleeping too much is a classic mistake – waking up so that you have a good portion of the day ahead of you is massively important, because as students we’re sort of oriented to a very regular pattern of waking/sleeping and if we disturb that it makes us feel as though there’s less obligation to get things done.
Achievement really helps stave off feeling negative; it’s something positive you can do for yourself and only for yourself, which is something we don’t often get time to do day-to-day.
My top tips for keeping well during these times are to be aware of the media content you’re consuming, stay in touch and be kind to yourself. It is of course important to stay up to date with the news and make sure you have a sense of awareness of what is happening in the world, but too much media exposure can do more harm than good. Be aware of the amount of media you’re consuming, by staying up to date, but also not letting your enjoyment online be ruined by constant news and media exposure.
Staying in touch with friends and family can also really help with feeling alone in these uncertain times. I have found myself becoming closer to my friends and more appreciative of spending time with them due to new ways of connecting. Try a video call, or plan something different such as a virtual quiz night! There are lots of fun ways to stay connected online.
And finally, be kind to yourself. Know that it is okay to feel worried and alone during times like these, but also remember that it won’t be like this forever, and it will get better. Please talk to someone you trust if you ever feel as though things are getting too much, because you matter and even though times can be tough, please be kind to yourself.
Thank you to Cosima, Bella and Jess for sharing their fantastic top tips. We hope these tips help other young people who are spending a lot more time at home. If your team of Digital Leaders have top tips you would like to share please email [email protected].
Tuesday 11th February saw the celebration of Safer Internet Day across the world in over 170 countries. The theme of this year’s campaign in the UK was ‘Free to be me: Exploring identity online’, encouraging young people to explore how they manage their online identity, and how the internet shapes how they think of themselves and others.
We asked Bella, one of our Digital Champions, a few questions around the theme and she provided some enlightening and insightful responses which you can find below.
1) Why is it important for all young people to be free to be themselves online?
“For many young people, particularly as the generational divide between our and our parents’ generations widens, access to the internet can equal a person’s access to certain safe spaces that they would not be able to access ‘in real life’. This means something, and whether or not a person feels comfortable in a certain community online should be the qualifier for it allowing young people to ‘be themselves’. These spaces should be commended for accommodating people regardless of race, sexuality etc.”
2) Why is it important to have different groups represented online? Why is online representation important?
“The intense diversity of some sites, such as Tumblr and Instagram, really helps to confront and challenge people’s opinions and understandings of the world where in their current situation offline they may not be. Issues that do not pertain to certain people are still raised by others online, and therefore those people learn something valuable about the struggles and the successes of other communities – and therefore the importance for diversity and the concept of ‘free and equal’ online. Representation online is so critical in my own experience because LGBTQ+ folks in my area are not so common publicly – to be presented with people that are ‘like you’ online, regardless of what that means to an individual, provides a critically important sense of validation and strips away the isolation many feel in their offline situations. This is why visible and healthy representation must be paramount.”
3) What is the best thing about diversity online? What is the worst thing about diversity online?
“The best thing (for me personally): the communities that form around aspects of diversity, particularly when those aspects are not universally or widely celebrated offline. The internet is so critical for providing (particularly) young people with a set of others like them whom they can communicate with and share their experiences with, and anonymously, if need be. These communities build up a validating sense of self worth for those who might otherwise be lacking it.
The worst thing (for me personally): In the quest for diversity, which, today, particularly with regard to sexuality, tends to produce more views/clicks, things like ‘queer-baiting’ have come into existence, whereby shows etc. falsely advertise inclusion and tolerance in order to draw in a subset of the population interested by this. The use of diversity as a weak and commercial factor in media is increasingly becoming a problem; I believe distinctions should be made for showwriters and media executives between healthy and unhealthy representation in order to bate this problem in the future.”
4) What is your one wish for the future of the internet?
“I hope we are able to overcome this idea that hate speech is a quality that should not be dismantled online because of the policy of freedom of speech. I’m aware that a number of social media sites (i.e. Twitter) have removed a considerable amount of ‘hate speech’ content under cyber-laws and legislation, and have received criticism from radical communities which resent the idea of restriction of certain materials – and while freedom of speech in a political sense is incredibly important, I believe that comfortable diversity for the large majority cannot be achieved until hate speech and free speech are separated properly by legislation and social media policy.”
5) If you could tell parents, teachers, and the internet industry one thing about online identity, what would it be?
“It is so important to encourage children and young people to develop a healthy online presence early, and, perhaps even more so, to put forward a level of trust in letting them do this. ‘Watcher’ apps are increasingly popular and they should not be underestimated in the sense that they do make online identity a more restricted concept if people feel as though they cannot express themselves, and in some cases, this is damaging to a person’s ability to socialise. Children and young people might misrepresent themselves a little bit online, but it is critical that ‘healthy identity’ is promoted and taught; that is, cultivating an image that you feel comfortable with, while also understanding there are limits.”
Thank you, Bella, for your passion for this topic and for being so open with your thoughts. Find out more about our Digital Champions here and take a look at their plans for the year ahead as well as more information about their role within the programme here.