We Untangled the Web with DoSomething.org. Here’s What We Learned.

More than 50,000 young people signed up to teach adults about digital life

Today’s young people are digital natives; they grew up with unmatched access to technology. However, they can feel disconnected from adults around technology and disempowered as members of the digital community. That’s a problem.

So what can we do? We know that fostering communication between a young person and an adult is critical for vibrant digital communities. So in March we partnered with DoSomething.org to kickstart intergenerational conversations about digital life. The goal was to reach 25,000 young people. After two months and more than 50 million social media impressions, 55,000 signed up to Untangle the Web.

Call to Action: DoSomething asked young people to take a quiz that asked them questions about how they use technology and media. At the end of the quiz, young people received a digital personality and an action guide curated to that personality to help them start the conversation with an adult in their life. Whether a News Detective battling misinformation or a Ray of Sunshine spreading positive vibes, each young person shared a piece of their life with those closest to them.

The Approach: Empower young people. DoSomething has found that operationalizing the “teach-to-learn” model by positioning young people as the experts has proven efficacy for behavior change and cause impact. They structured messaging around the positive behaviors they know young people exhibit online as an entry point to deeper conversation with adults about digital citizenship.

Youth Experiences: We think it worked. Thousands of young people shared their stories with us. Here are just a few.

With the help of this guide, I am informing my teachers and peers of better ways to sift through the tidal wave of information that the internet provides, and in turn, lead to more productive discourse.

“I love to have debates with my peers at school. We discuss politics, religion, and various other topics. However, it becomes very annoying when other students cite information from a website that either makes up and distorts common information, fails to provide any credible sourcing, or does not disclose funding sources. With the help of this guide, I am informing my teachers and peers of better ways to sift through the tidal wave of information that the internet provides, and in turn, lead to more productive discourse.” – Keaton, 17

This campaign is important to me because social media has made it so hard for people to be happy being themselves.

“This campaign is important to me because social media has made it so hard for people to be happy being themselves.The high expectations due to bullying and rude comments has completely taken over this generation’s ability to be happy in their own skin. People believe that they can say anything online without it affecting anyone just because it is not face to face, but that is not true. I know that I still remember every mean thing that has been said about how I look or my personality. I know that I am not the only one. The online harassment crisis needs to stop in order for people to be truly happy in their own skin again.” – Savannah, 18

“Before coming across DoSomething.org, I never noticed a problem with the way our society consumes media. But after exploring further, it became clear to me that discerning real from fake information online is a skill that even the most tech-savvy young adults lack. So I looked for ways to know which headlines, images, and quoted testimonies are legitimate. The solutions — learning to read horizontally, taking on the responsibility to ask ourselves two or three questions about the legitimacy of a source, and considering the consequences of what we post. I see these solutions as tips for improving the quality of information we intake online, key ingredients for an improved news diet. Doing this will not only improve our society’s media literacy but will contribute to a healthier democracy where we do not divide ourselves or argue on the basis of fake propaganda. These repercussions of media illiteracy must be acknowledged. And I foresee DoSomething’s effort to shed light on this largely disregarded issue impactful for youth and adults alike.” – Lina, 18

What We Learned

1. Through pre-campaign surveys, we learned that young people consistently rank online habits and digital use as one of the most important in their lives.

2. Post campaign, 66% of participants said they are more likely to talk to adults about technology as a result of their participation in the campaign.

3. Overwhelmingly, young people want to learn from their friends how to develop healthy skills online.

4. When asked to identify which skills are most important for navigating digital life, young people said Critical Thinking; Positivity, Compassion, and Suspending Judgement; Clear Communication; and Self-Control.

5. Young people want to be part of the solution. In fact, when asked what resources would be helpful, Accessible Content and Mentorship, More Online Resources and Guides, and Friends Learning from Each Other’s Mistakes were the most common suggestions.

What Comes Next

We heard our young people. Now it’s time to do something about it. Next, DoSomething and SCE are hosting an “Impact-A-Thon” in New York City from August 2-3. Fifteen young people will come together to solve a critical question: How might young people exercise better judgement in digital spaces?

So join us. Follow along. It’s an “Impact”-A-Thon, resource generation for young people, by young people.

Follow @scefdn and @dosomething on Twitter and Facebook for updates.

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