Social reality – creating digital tools and games for young people with cognitive disabilities
The Danish Safer Internet Centre (SIC) (Save the Children DK, Centre for Digital Youth Care, and The Media Council for Children & Young People) is currently running a project titled “Social reality”. It concerns children and youth (aged 11-15) with cognitive disabilities and is carried out in collaboration with the National ADHD-Association, the Association for Youth Clubs DK, and the concept bureau, Fremtidsfabrik.
The objective of the project is to empower children and young people with cognitive disabilities in their use of social media in order to include them in online social communities and avoid exclusion. Furthermore, it aims to provide pedagogues with knowledge and tools to teach the target group about tolerance, respect and ethics in online communities, for example, through activities concerning control of impulses.
During autumn 2016, 20 workshops were carried out in leisure clubs and schools for pupils with cognitive disabilities. Inspired by a talk with a young project ambassador diagnosed with ADHD (20-year-old male blogger @ADHD Mikkel), the group of young people took an active role in discussions about the difficulties of being online. Themes for the discussions were online language and, in particular, hate speech, like-hunting and recognition, nude images and provocative actions on social media, and faking or adversely exploiting the advances of being anonymous online. Young people with cognitive disabilities often feel frustrated when being repeatedly misunderstood due to their struggle with reading and remembering the social codes, and difficulties in perceiving their own and other people’s personal limits.
The second part of the workshop dealt with emoji-trolls versus emoji-heroes and the participants’ understanding of negative online behaviour opposed to keeping up a good approach on social media and in online games. Based on supplied templates (.pdf), the participants created their images of emoji-trolls and emoji-heroes, followed by their reflections on these two categories of online presence to camera – see the resulting videos here (the commentary is in Danish, although the illustrations alone impart the participant’s views).
Online test and toolbox
An online test, being developed as part of the project, will have a social-media-style interface taking inspiration from gaming, and using the emoji-trolls and emoji-heroes as the main characters. When testing themselves in different online situations, users will get immediate feedback on their actions and, after completion, can repeat the test to see how different responses produce different outcomes.
The online toolbox for pedagogues will be developed in collaboration with pedagogues from the participating leisure clubs. The toolbox will contain information about children’s and young people’s general use of online media and, especially, social media. It will provide pedagogues with knowledge about challenges specific to certain target groups, and will also outline opportunities in relation to positive online communities. The toolbox will also suggest a series of activities with children and young people that help to develop coping strategies in relation to communication in online communities.
A significant part of the project is to create a booklet with information about how and why it is crucial to focus on social media, online gaming and communication in online communities in the daily work with children and young people with cognitive disabilities.
Further updates on the project will follow in due course.
Find out more about the work of the Danish Safer Internet Centre, including its awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services.