A team of freelance media educators and psyhologists
Young people from the age of 13
In the workshop, young people take a critical look at concepts like „BEAUTIFUL“, NORMAL“, HEALTHY” and “SICK”. They reflect what has an influence on their self-image and learn a positive approach to their own bodies. They also discuss the role of food in their lives: it might be a comforter or a motivator. How do you notice, when somebody crosses the line to an eating disorder? How do Facebook, Instagram and Co influence our body perception?
Austrian Ministry of Youth supported the development of the workshop concept, as part of their emphasis on young peoples´ health. Studies had shown social media to have a negative impact on how young people regard their bodies.
The workshops lasts about 3 hours and take place in a same sex setting in two separate rooms. A female #ME-trainer works with the girls, a male colleague with the boys.
The trainer facilitates the discussion with questions and examples from social media. There are certain central themes: what is my definition of “beautiful”, where does it come from? Why do I tend to be more judgemental towards myself than I am towards others? How can I learn to find myself okay? How can I act, when I notice, that I´m negatively influenced by social media? The workshop can take different turns with different groups: the topics that are most relevant for the group get most of the time and attention. The trainer is not only a facilitator, but takes part in the exercises him/herself and talks about his/her own dealings with social media. Like the participants, he/she also is familiar with the pressure to be perfect and beautiful.
In one exercise, the participants draw a picture of themselves and mark one body part they find beautiful. Then the participants then are asked to comment all drawings and mark everything they find beautiful in the other person.
NOTE: The shadow pictures (on the video) are just illustration and not part of the #ME-workshop concept. They were produced especially for the video in a separate meeting with the group.
Each group (girls and boys) need a separate room where they can be undisturbed, a computer (with an internet connection), video projector or a big tv screen. The most important resource, however, is a trainer, who keenly observes the role of media in the everyday life of young people and is him/herself active in social media. He/she needs to know how it feels like to be influenced and be ready to share his/her perception. Honesty and authenticity is important. Besides personal experiences, the trainer needs to be familiar with some study results about the impact of social media, follow actual discussions about this and collect suitable examples, e.g. of interesting campaings, critical discussions within social media, or influencers who remodel themselves to unnatural, doll-like creatures.
Youth workers stress in their feedback how well the workshop meets the actual themes of young people: „This was exactly what we needed”. Young people often expect a lecture and are positively surprised by how interactive the workshop is. They also like the way the trainers take actively part in everything. Their favourite part of the workshop is the drawing exercise about self-perception and outsider´s perception: „the feedback you get makes you so happy”. In some cases, the workshop had a positive long-term impact on the group atmosphere.
In the pilot phase, the workshop was evaluated with questoinnaires.
#ME-Trainers also work as trainers for youth workers in different contexts in Austria and share their methods and experience. #ME-workshops demonstrate the importance of reflection: young people need opportunities to talk about their experiences with and within social media, to explore and feel the impact of this. In settings like this, digital youth work consists chiefly of relationship work. The main accomplishment of the trainer is to create a safe space for a trusting and respectful discussion.