For the last 3 years, we’ve been asking young people across the US and Canada to tell us in 2 minutes or less their stories about safe, responsible technology use. They’ve responded with enthusiasm and creativity; they’ve entertained and moved us.
This year, the What’s Your Story? video contest continues in the same format that’s worked so well so far. But we’ve changed a few things, hopefully for the better.
Not Just an Ordinary Contest
Since 2010, contestants have produced videos, covering a number of topics. Once they submit them, however, they don’t simply sit back and wait. Instead, they’re encouraged to get the word out about their work to their friends, families, and communities, using multiple social sharing tools directly from the contest site. We do this by design for two reasons: to encourage peer education and to showcase a positive use of social media.
Contestants understand the importance of this part of the contest; the numbers of views and ratings of their videos impact the finalist selection process. In the end, the winners are selected by an expert panel of judges, comprised of online safety advocates, technology companies, and others.
This year, we’re offering not one but two $10,000 grand prizes for a school and for an individual film-maker as well as other cash prizes.
More Than Online Safety
Our contest themes have varied each year: from online privacy to bullying to keeping online information safe. We’ve seen a range of responses: how social networks are used, how cell phones are misused, or how bullying makes people feel and act, for better or worse.
In the world of online safety, it’s hard to avoid conversations about risks, prevention, and the cost of being unaware. Yes, we should absolutely be teaching kids how to use technology in ways that will keep the bad things and the bad people away. But we can’t end the conversation there. Talking about safety alone is not enough. We don’t raise our kids just to be safe people. We raise them hoping they’ll one day be safe and responsible, happy, productive, successful people. Online or off.
In their work titled Online Safety 3.0: Empowering and Protecting Youth, Anne Collier and Larry Magid of Connectsafely (members of this year’s judging panel) write “Like the anonymous quote, ‘peace is more than just the absence of war,’ Internet Safety 3.0 is more than just the absence of danger… It includes finding ways to use technology for learning, collaboration, professional development, community building, civic engagement, and interacting with others. It’s encouraging children and teenagers to thrive in and through their use of technology.“ We agree.
What’s Your Story? has always been exactly about this. It encourages youth agency. It promotes the positive use of technology. But what it hadn’t done until now was encourage a discussion beyond “the absence of war.” We wanted to change that.
Looking for the Good Side
We believe that for every negative news story about kids, technology and ensuing mayhem, there are many more opposing examples. We just don’t hear about them. This year, we want to know how people, particularly the youngest of us, are being great at being online. This year, the What’s Your Story? contestants just need to answer one question: What does the good side of the Internet look like?
Ultimately, we believe this is a better way to help others be safe, responsible, successful users of technology. Let’s move beyond telling them what not to do, a theme that pervades most messaging directed at youth on the Internet. Instead, let’s provide the stage and let them show others what works, what’s possible. We hope that these stories of smart, creative, safe, responsible, productive uses of the Internet might encourage and inspire others to do the same.
With so many great organizations and people supporting the 2013 What’s Your Story? video contest, including MediaSmarts, we’re excited to see what this year will bring. The contest has never been possible without the community that’s gotten behind it: the contestants, their fans, film schools, K-12 schools, teachers, judges, sponsors and a great team at Trend Micro.
Youth market research firm YPulse recently wrote about millennials’ (those born between 1982 and 2004) attitudes and beliefs that “there is huge momentum to pay it forward lately, and pass on positivity. Millennials are eager to participate in this chain reaction and exhibit acts of kindness.”
We believe this. In fact, we’re banking $20,000+ on it.
If you know an aspiring film-maker, teacher, or school that could do a great job of answering this year’s question, please spread the word.
For more information about the 2013 What’s Your Story? contest, theme, prizes, rules, and deadlines, go to: whatsyourstory.trendmicro.com
Lynette Owens is the founder and global director of Trend Micro’s Internet Safety for Kids and Families (ISKF) program. A mom of two school-aged children, Lynette established the ISKF program in 2008 to help extend the company’s vision of making a world safe for the exchange of digital information to the world’s youngest citizens. The program, active in 20 countries, helps kids, families, and schools become safe, responsible, and successful users of technology. Follow Lynette on Twitter @lynettetowens or read her blog @ internetsafety.trendmicro.com