Media plays a huge role in the lives of young people today. Either it is through newspapers, radio and TV, or through social and digital media, the youth is informed, educated and assumes its role in the society. With the rise of technology, media and information is accessible to the youth now more than ever. Online media bring major challenges for the society: confronting online violence, also known as cyber-bullying. Young people face this phenomenon especially because they become negligent with what they share on social networks. At the same time, online media becomes a context that is easy to use for sexual harassment, sexual intimidation, homophobic attacks and other forms of gender-based violence through verbal attacks or abuse of photos or videos.
Our goals are to:
It is worth mentioning that the spread of private data (pictures, videos, messages) is more and more common among young people and affects both their virtual identity and real lifestyle. Consuming media has also been correlated with violence and subsequent aggressive and violent behavior.
Another possible danger is the control that the state/government is attempting to gain on information in the media. While it may seem just to regulate rules and protect against abuse, government control can quickly turn into media monitoring. Young people have to deal also with the stereotypes promoted by media, especially when it comes to gender roles and ethnic characteristics. This has a negative impact on their self-esteem and how they perceive themselves. Media raises frustration among youths and creates the pressure to reach ”perfection”. A lot of health problems are consequences of this, including eating disorders, depression and chronic anxiety.
Online media has also created a new trend: spreading fake news. Today’s technologies, with their elaborate infrastructures have created an almost ideal environment for manipulation and abuse—one that arguably threatens any sense of shared truth. The huge amount of information makes it difficult for users to select the good and poor quality information, open-minded and hateful messages. Increasing the awareness of young people around these threats of modern media is important to secure a safer media space and information credibility. Also, taking in to account that digital media and online news give more space to the public to comment, the civic society can eliminate governmental control over them and other forms of political influences.
Younger generations share one important characteristic: they are today’s media. In modern society this can have a huge impact, making changes and initiating solutions. The youth is familiar with being online and can generate collective initiatives that make it to the real world. Freedom of choice that results from the diversity and big amount of content and information online enables young people not only to improve their knowledge but also to get a clear image of global developments and how they affect their lives. New media space, especially online, allows readers’ interaction and feedback, which, taken into account, creates a live dialogue between journalists and the audience. Thus, active citizenship is supported and reshaped on a daily basis through forums, social networks and online interaction.
Methods of HRE for the virtual life of young people will be added further as a contribution of those who work on fighting for human rights in the virtual world and believe that human rights online need to be equally respected as human rights in the real world.
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