Developing storytelling in online safety conversations – The example of NET_TELLING

  • Awareness
  • 20/12/2019
  • Portuguese Safer Internet Centre

In October 2019, the Portuguese Safer Internet Centre (PT SIC) launched "Net_Telling", a new resource aiming to promote and raise awareness of personal stories related to the digital world and the use of the internet, applying the storytelling methodology.

This new resource comprises a workshop, with five sessions lasting 15 hours in total. A public session was held at the end to present the best stories of the participants. A film was also produced in the context of the Net_Telling project. During the working sessions, about 30 participants learned how to tell a story, how to present it and how to engage with the audience. The workshop enabled the participants to use storytelling as a work methodology.

The facilitators of the workshop were actor Pedro Górgia and sociologist Fatima Freitas, both with previous training experience using storytelling with high results with the participants.  The sessions were organised according to the themes: "what is my profile?", "empathy laboratory", "search engine for unique stories", "what's your story?", "take a deep breath before going on stage", and "final presentation: what's your thing?"

The public presentation was a final event where ten participants shared a personal story about their experience with the digital world or the internet. The themes of the stories were very catchy and funny – they are also stories that are often heard by the spectators about what might go right, and not so right, when dealing with the internet.

Some detailed information on the stories:

  • Cristina told the story of how she was involved in her son's blind date, organised through WhatsApp.
  • Maria explained how a virtual passion might not always be a real life passion.
  • Joyce recalled the time her Instagram account was stolen just because she didn't follow very basic safety recommendations!
  • Kevin shared with the audience some important advice on how to use the internet, in the old-fashioned way, to maintain a long-term relationship at a distance.
  • Rui made the audience laugh when he told how a good digital business can go wrong when you don't tell your mom about using her credit card.

Pictures of participants of NET_TELLING on stage

The stories of the older participants were:

  • Isabel shared how her 95-year-old aunt Izilda uses the internet to "nag" her daughter.
  • Laura explained in her story how the Italian saying "Fidarsi è bene, non fidarsi è meglio", ("Trusting is good but being suspicious is better") can be easily applied to the internet.
  • Manuel explained how, for his generation, computers were like Coca-Cola: "Primeiro estranha-se, depois entranha-se" ("At first is weird, then bows in") – an expression widely used by Portuguese people. Fernando Pessoa wrote this as an ad for Coca-Cola.
  • Adelina told the story of how she did not win (but also did not lose) 3 million euros when she put her house up for sale on the internet.
  • Lurdes explained in her story that before computers, she did not have time for anything, and that she still does not have time for anything else, but she does a lot more nowadays!

Aside from the workshop session, a film is currently being produced featuring the five best stories chosen among the group of participants, giving the viewer the perspective of good practices online, using different resources and working methodologies. These stories are available at https://www.internetsegura.pt/videos.

The assessment of this resource revealed that participants were open to learning more about the safe use of the internet with different approaches. The workshop contents were useful since it allowed them to learn how to deal with the disadvantages of the internet and how to establish a useful relationship with their colleagues while using it. Participants also highlighted that this new experience contributed to learn more on how to work on a story and how to tell it.

The assessment also highlighted that some issues need revision, such as the duration of the workshop, which should include more hours, and the importance of making a clearer reference to the nature of the stories that ought to reflect the digital and the internet.

Find out more information about the work of the Portuguese Safer Internet Centre (SIC) generally, including its awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services on the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) portal, or find similar information for Safer Internet Centres throughout Europe.


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