Monthly Archives

June 2016

Technology use by Agents

By | Debrief | 1,349 Comments

We asked you about how you use technology – what devices you use, when you use them, and how often you go online.

Your answers showed us that most of you use technology in the afternoon or evening after you get home from school or work and that you spend on average about 5-7 hours online a day. Smart-phones are the most popular device, followed by televisions, and tied for third place are tablets and laptops. Most of you do something online about 20-50 times a day, and some agents go online even more often! This is not surprising, given how easy smartphones make it to check your social media, search google or instant message. According to one agent, “It’s a thing, checking messages doesn’t have a set time, it’s literally whenever”. But of course we realise that this might not represent all of our agents and there will be differences around the globe – tell us in a comment if technology use looks different where you are.




Catching Up With Ingrid

By | RErights news | 6 Comments

Our Hi-Tech Hero, Ingrid Soto from Brazil, shared some thoughts with us about the power of music, the potential of young people, and how to change the world. Thanks, Ingrid!

You hold campaigns to donate books and toys to refugee children arriving in Brazil. Why did you choose to focus your work on this group? How many children have you reached, and how much have you donated since you started?
Well, when I was a little girl I saw children suffering on TV in wars and having to leave their countries to ensure their right to life, peace and freedom. I felt I could not continue sitting there watching all those atrocities happen. Because they were children like me and I thought that even while I was in my house, the houses of children and innocent families are being bombed. I was deeply moved by their situation, and I wanted to help them in some way. For 4 years I have run toy and books collection campaigns. In the first year of the campaign, I had the support of the UN, but it was very hard to collect toys because people did not understand what it was like to “be in a refugee situation,” so I needed donations of enterprises! The campaign began to grow in an incredible way as society began to have access to more information about the largest humanitarian tragedy that we are living in. Now, young people and schools are collaborating a lot more. Last year, I raised more than 10,000 toys, so I needed a truck to transport the donations and divide it between two institutions that host families and refugee children. I do not know how many refugee children I have reached with the campaign, because there are many children arriving in Brazil. The only thing I know is that this campaign means that refugee children feel more welcomed and loved. Each look of joy is as though you are saving the world, and rescuing hope.

You’re a very active member in the RErights community – we’ve loved hearing what you think about rights and digital technology. How is your work related to RErights?
My work is very related to RErights because by using technology, I am fighting for human rights and the rights of children. Also with music, I’m taking the message that we (the youth) can change the world, because we are the future of the nation and the adults need to hear us to support positive change in the world.

Which rights does your work promote for young people? Do you think that the digital era has impacted on your rights in any way?
I’m always promoting the rights of liberty of expression, encouraging the empowerment of girls, the right to life and the protection of children at risk. Technology helps directly in my right to: liberty of expression, access to information and the right to be heard.

You also call yourself a pacifist singer! What does this mean to you? How do you think music can change the world?
I love be a pacifist singer. For me to be pacifist means that I can help influence and empower the youth to be the positive change that we want for the world, and I always need to be tuned to the real world and real facts. I love to write what I dream and what I wish for our world, especially knowing that I can inspire other young people. I think that when we dream of other people they start to dream of you and I found in music a way to communicate. Music unites people in a fantastic way that brings hope and love to our humanity without distinction of religion, race, color and social class.

I’m taking the message that we (the youth) can change the world, because we are the future of the nation and the adults need to hear us to support positive change in the world.

Your work is based mostly on the internet. Can you explain how technology has enabled you to do your work? What are the advantages of the technology we have available today?
With the internet I can communicate, share my music and share with people my campaigns of donation of toys and books. The advantages of utilizing technology include being able to reach people from around the world, awaken solidarity and mobilize people to change the world.

You’ve accomplished a lot at 14 years old! Why do you think it’s important for young people to have their voices heard? In what ways could young people be more involved in decision-making?
I think I have a lot to do yet. We the youth of the new generation have to have our voices heard, because we want not only a future but a better present, and yes we can help to change the world. Adults should pay more attention to our ideals, and see that we can make decisions, participate in debates about our rights, create art, and access quality education. All these ways help youth to develop and together find the way to development.

You wrote your first email to the United Nations at 10 years old! That’s impressive. What advice do you have for other young people wanting to use technology to make change in their community?
At ten years old while surfing on the UN website, I realized that I could help adults in my way. We the youth, we have a big potential, and with the internet it has becme easier, with one click we can know everything around us, and we have in our hands a great communication tool. Believe in your dreams and in your potential! With your potential, use the Internet in a positive way, promote better change in the world and reach more people for the good. Yes you can improve everything! Remember that everything starts very small, with much effort, planning and dedication, you will see the transformation happen in your family, in your community, in your city, step-by-step and together we are transforming the world.

Technology has developed so much in recent years. So in just a few more years, it could almost be unrecognisable! Given that your work is technology based, where would you like to see your work go?
I want to continue singing and doing campaigns for refugee children and protect children in high risk situations, and reach more people in the world for good through music. But we cannot forget that in real life, everything only becomes possible if we put it into practice in our daily life. Because of this, I like to give lectures and shows so that I can see the people, the brightness from the eyes and see the change that happens in reality. I dream to be an ambassador of UNICEF to encourage people to help. Also I really want to participate in UN debates. Since I was little, I wished to mobilize various singers from different continents to sing together in support of the protection of refugee children and I am trying to mobilize artists to this action. And so, I keep singing instead of silencing our dreams.

A chat with Gabby

By | RErights news | 1,378 Comments

We had a chat to one of our Hi-Tech Heroes, Gabby Frost, about her work, technology and rights. Read on to hear what she had to say!

Buddy Project has paired over 100,000 buddies! That’s a great achievement. Can you tell us a bit about what inspired you to start Buddy Project, and what steps you took to set it up?
I was inspired to create Buddy Project after having friends from school and Twitter who went through mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, self-harm addiction, and suicidal thoughts. They always told me that they appreciated my friendship because it helped them stay strong and push to recover. I always remembered this, and it helped create Buddy Project. One night while I was on Twitter, there were 3 girls who were contemplating suicide. After tweeting them support, I pondered how I could prevent people from committing suicide. I noticed the 3 girls all tweeted that they didn’t have a supportive family or any friends. This is when I remembered what my friends had told me, and I knew I had to create a system where people could receive a buddy so they wouldn’t be alone. Setting this up was a bit easy for me, since I’ve been using the computer often since I was younger. I had to set up a Twitter account to promote the idea and I used Google Forms to get the submissions for a buddy.

What is the process of pairing buddies – how do people sign up? What do you look for when pairing people? Which internet platforms do you use to pair them?
People can now sign up on Buddy Project’s website at All you need to provide is your first name, Twitter username (or Tumblr now!), age, and two of your interests. When I pair people, I put together people who share their first choice interest or their second choice interest depending on how many people signed up with certain interests. I use the website to pair the buddies.

What does a relationship with a ‘buddy’ look like? How do they interact? Is their relationship entirely internet-based? What do buddies do together? Do you have a favourite success story from your project?
A relationship with a buddy can looks like many different things. Some people take the relationship to their full advantage and become best friends. Whether they just talk over Twitter, text message, Skype, FaceTime, or meet in person, the relationships between buddies are very beneficial. They have someone that’s there for them when they just need a friend, and that’s super important. Everyone deserves to have someone in their lives that will push them to be a better person and be supportive, and the buddies are giving these people exactly that. I don’t have a favorite success story because all of the ones that I’ve seen are truly incredible. There’s been a few buddies who have actually met in person, either at a concert or at the airport. Seeing people who connected solely over the internet meet in person is such a powerful thing to see.

“I think that social media positively affects mental health because a lot of people are able to see that they’re not alone much easier. They’re exposed to millions of other people, many who could have the same mental illness as them.”

What do you think are the benefits of using social media for your work? Do you think there is a relationship between the ability of social media to connect people, and mental health (positive or negative)?
Social media is definitely beneficial because I can connect people from all over the world. I think that social media positively affects mental health because a lot of people are able to see that they’re not alone much easier. They’re exposed to millions of other people, many who could have the same mental illness as them. Even though society pushes negative standards against us using media sometimes, I think it does more help than hurt. Bringing thousands of people together to fight the stigma of mental illness would never have been done in person; thanks to the Internet, I was able to do so using Twitter.

You mentioned that you think the stigma of mental health is toxic. How could we overcome this stigma? In what ways do you think mental health could be better addressed among young people?
I think that the stigma of mental health can only be overcome with education, kindness, and empathy. If we educate the world on what the reality behind mental health is, no one would be ignorant and think completely false things about it. I think schools need to put forth a better effort with educating students in schools about mental health. In my personal experience, I was only educated about mental health in 10th grade for a 1/4th of the year and the class only met every 3 school days. I feel like mental health deserves a good chunk of the year and should be retaught every 2-3 years starting when students are pre-teens. Puberty is the beginning of children’s bodies changing, and often their mental health can change as well.
We also need to spread kindness and be empathetic. There’s too many negative people in the world who will rain on anyone’s parade for no reason, or they’ll shut out how someone is feeling simply because they don’t understand. If we teach people how to see something from another person’s perspective, it could help out immensely.

What rights do you see your work promoting for young people? Do you think that the digital era has impacted on your rights in any way?
I think it gives young people rights because it allows them to see a vast amount of information about mental health as well as sexuality and gender identity. Without the Internet, some people wouldn’t be able to educate themselves on this kind of information. It also gives young people power to talk to whomever they’d like, which relates to the most important right: freedom of speech. Young people have easy access to write how they feel and can start revolutions that include thousands of people. The Internet and social media do a good job at assembling people from all over the world who all believe in the same thing and want to make a change.

You’ve accomplished a lot at a very young age. As a young person, have you experienced any hurdles in getting this far? What advice would you give to other young people who were hoping to use technology to make change in the world?
I’ve experienced a few hurdles, which are mainly due to not knowing how certain technology works. When I first started pairing buddies, I had no idea how to do it in an efficient way. Luckily my mom was able to help me out and I jumped over the first hurdle. After that, I couldn’t figure out how to have a professional website and present myself in a more professional way. Throughout the past 3 years of running Buddy Project, I’ve matured from a 15-year-old high school freshman to an 18-year-old incoming college freshman. I slowly jumped past that hurdle over time. The hurdle I’m trying to overcome at the moment is creating an app and more complex website. I also want to start fundraising and holding events since Buddy Project became a 501(c)(3) organization in December. I’m hopefully going to learn how to code soon in order to accomplish this and hope I’ll be able to advance to whatever challenges the next hurdle will bring me.

Technology has developed so much in recent years. So in just a few more years, it could almost be unrecognisable! Given that your work is technology based, where would you like to see your work go?
I would love for Buddy Project to become its own social networking site that people can have their own username/password for. It would also be awesome for it to be used all over the world in the different continents.



Announcing our Hi-Tech Heroes!

By | RErights news | 718 Comments

We asked you to nominate young people who are enhancing their rights through the use of digital media. We had so many inspiring applicants, and we’re excited to announce our 3 amazing Hi-Tech Heroes!

Gabby Frost is an 18 year old from the USA and the founder of the Buddy Project, an organisation aiming to prevent suicide and self-harm by pairing people as buddies. Using the power of social media to connect people, Gabby is helping to raise awareness of mental illness and bringing a better quality of life to young people around the world.

14 year old, Ingrid Soto from Brazil is using her musical talents to sing for a better world by writing and performing pacifist songs. She also organises campaigns to donate toys and books to refugee children arriving in Brazil. Ingrid uses the internet to spread the message of her music, as well as to connect and involve other young people in her campaigns.

Creativity Group is a community of students from Ghana who are using technology, such as electronics, 3D printing, and web and mobile programming to engage with social issues and offer solutions for sustainable development within their communities. One of their projects is delivering an offline version of the internet to children in remote parts of Ghana, and helping them to realise their right to education.

We’re so excited to have these remarkable young people as ambassadors of the RErights community. We’ll be getting to know our Heroes in more depth over the next few weeks – so stay tuned!

That is totally not cool…

By | Operations | 715 Comments

** We’ve had some exciting news from the International Telecommunication Union! **

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is the United Nations specialised agency for information and communication technologies. They are important decision makers and today they want to hear from YOU. The ITU has asked RErights to report on young people’s thoughts about online behaviours that are not very nice and what to do about them.

Unkind behaviours online have always been a concern and now with the increased use of digital technology these behaviours have become a worldwide issue. They are not simply about receiving harassing messages but can take many forms like trolling or cyberstalking and can happen across many different platforms.

In Operation 8: Uncool we explore the issue of unkind behaviours online through four missions.
Mission 1: Unkind – asks you to consider scenarios with not so good stuff happening, what your interpretation is and how you would respond to those situations.
Mission 2: Mean-ing – asks how you would define cyberbullying.
Mission 3: Support – asks you to research what support options are available in your country.
Mission 4: Response – asks you to indicate what role different people could play in reducing cyberbullying or supporting the victims.

Your answers to Operation 8 are the best guide to better understanding unkind behaviours online that young people have ever written. This is a #VeryImportantOperation and we count on you Agents to lead the conversation.

Over to you!