The use of social media and civic journalism are growing phenomena throughout the world. In this workshop, participants explore the different opportunities and limitations in interacting and communicating with others through social media. Time is given to considering the ethical issues associated with young people using social media.
The posts created by the groups will be shared on social media sites.
This workshop needs to be held in a venue with access to the Internet. The number of participants should not be more than 15, as each participant is likely to need quite a lot of attention and guidance from the facilitator(s).
1. Welcome the participants and start the activity by introducing the workshop and saying:
“The aim of this workshop is for us to discuss and reflect on interaction and communication through social media sites on the Internet. Social media is increasingly popular, providing us with a range of opportunities to connect with other people. However, just like in face-to-face interaction, public social communication also requires reflection, consideration of ethical issues, and effort to make the interaction successful.”
2. Ask the participants what social media they use?
For example: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
3. As the participants mention different platforms, stop and ask more in-depth questions to all the participants about this particular platform. Examples of questions you can ask are:
• What do you do on this platform?
• Why do you use this particular platform over others?
• How do you portray yourself on this platform?
• Do you feel your interaction and portrayal of yourself on this platform is meaningful and enables you to get what you want from using the platform?
• What is appropriate behaviour on these platforms?
• What is not appropriate behaviour on these platforms?
• What do you gain personally from using this social media platform?
4. Now ask the participants what makes a ‘successful’ post? For example, on Instagram it is usually how many people like the post. On Twitter it may be how many people retweeted the post.
5. When everyone has had a chance to share, explain that the participants will now have 30 minutes only to create a post to share on social media. Ask them to work in groups of four or five. First they will have to choose the social media platform they want to use, and then decide together on the subject and wording for a post on that site.
6. Ask them to consider the following:
• Which social media site/platform are you going to use? Do you have accounts on these platforms already or are you going to register together?
• What is the aim of your post going to be? What is the message or story you want to tell with the post?
• What will be in the post? For example, will they use words and/ or photos and or/ video?
• Who is the target group (for example, age group, gender, etc.)?
• What will make this a successful post?
• What ethical issues should you consider in creating this post?
• What devices and programmes or applications do you need?
7. After 30 minutes ask each group to share the post they created. If available, use a projector to show the post on a big screen so it is easy for all participants to see.
8. Ask the groups to share some of the thoughts they had when planning their post.
9. When everyone has presented, ask the participants to reflect on the ethical issues that need to be taken into account. List the issues that the group identifies on a flipchart or chalkboard.
10. Before ending the activity, ask the participants how these different platforms for social communication are used for civic journalism. Ask them to share some examples of how people can engage in public debate using these platforms.
11. End the activity by thanking the participants for their contributions, and saying:
“Social media is a relatively new phenomenon. It is important we reflect on how we use this method of interaction and communicating with others safely and ethically, and recognize both the possibilities and limitations of the different platforms we use.”