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Rethinking media and sexuality education: executive summary


coverimage credit: George

Executive Summary

What’s the problem?

  • Parents, educators and policy makers are overwhelmed by the pace at which digital technologies (such as mobile phone and tablets) and platforms (such as Facebook and Snapchat) are evolving – and the increasing role they play in young people’s lives.
  • Practices such as sexting (the digital sharing of naked or semi-naked pictures) create complex legal and socio-cultural challenges for young people, schools and families.
  • To date, health promotion and education policy and practice have struggled to develop activities and messages that offer young people better guidance than ‘just say no’.

What we did

  • Four three-hour workshops were held in New South Wales and Queensland with secondary teachers, health promoters and youth workers (n=77). The workshops covered three relevant theories of media communications as well as practical activities adapted from The Selfie Course developed by Kath Albury, Terri Senft and colleagues. Follow-up surveys assessed the extent to which participants found this approach useful, relevant and applicable to their work.

What we found

  • There are both individual and institutional barriers to an asset-based approach to young people’s digital media practices. At best, an approach focused solely on risk will result in frustration for professionals and young people alike. At worst, it will actively undermine trust between young people and the services that wish to support them.
  • Educators and policy-makers need to move beyond asking ‘what does media do to young people?’ towards asking instead ‘what do young people do with media?’ The frameworks and activities piloted and evaluated in this study can support them to make this change.

Next steps

  • A majority of participants indicated a desire to engage further with critical theory and practice models for working with young people in the area of media and sexuality education.
  • This report presents data self-reported by participants. Future research could engage more closely with educators to better understand how the frameworks and activities piloted in this project are applied and translated in their practice.

The Rethinking media and sexuality education project 2015 was led by Kath Albury and Paul Byron, UNSW, with the support of True Relationships & Reproductive Health Queensland, and Family Planning NSW.

The preliminary research report is being launched this morning at AFSEH’s First National Conference, at Western Sydney University.

A full pdf  is available for download here.

Follow the AFSEH conference Twitter conversation at #afseh15.

Selfies, sexts and sneaky hats: understanding context in visual media genres

Associate Professor Kath Albury (UNSW Australia) on young people’s sexed and gendered understandings of mediated self-representation: a short presentation, plus Q&A, for The Visual Media Workshop at Kwantien Polytechnic University (Canada).

This paper will be published in full in a forthcoming special feature on ‘Studying  Selfies‘, in the International Journal of Communication (open access)

Teaching with selfies: new Creative Commons syllabus

Introducing the newest initiative from the Selfies Research Network: an six-week course for university students studying selfies, and/or university instructors who would like to touch on selfie culture in their own classes.The course (which carries a Creative Commons license) includes:

A full six week syllabus, including classroom exercises that can be used or adapted by teachers for their classes– athttp://www.selfieresearchers.com/the-selfie-course/selfie-syllabus/

A blog for discussions (everyone free to contribute) at

A Flickr group for sharing photos and discussion athttps://www.flickr.com/groups/selfieworkshop/

This week ( September 2014) we will begin to run the class online with a select group of international students, but everyone is invited to participate on our blog. The schedule of topics is as follows:

Week One: Selfies, Identity & Interpellation
Week Two: Selfies, Celebrity, Branding & Consumerism
Week Three: Selfies, Biometrics, Dataveillance
Week Four: Selfies, Sexuality, Dating
Week Five: Selfies, Subaltern, Criminality and “Others”
Week Six: Selfies, Space, Place and “Appropriateness” Debates

The course was developed by the following group of academics:

Theresa Senft (New York University, USA)
Jill Walker Rettberg (University of Bergen, Norway)
Elizabeth Losh (University of California, San Diego, USA)
Kath Albury (University of New South Wales, Australia)
Radhika Gajjala (Bowling Green State University, USA),
Gaby David (EHESS, France)
Alice Marwick (Fordham University, USA)
Crystal Abidin (University of Western Australia, Australia)
Magda Olszanowski (Concordia University, Canada)
Fatima Aziz (EHESS, France)
Katie Warfield (Kwantien University College, Canada)
Negar Mottahedeh (Duke University, USA)

During our scheduled pre-conference at the AoIR Conference Daegu, we’ll talk about the outcome of the class, what worked, what did not, and so forth. We’ll also be brainstorming ways to roll out more projects.

The Selfies Research Network will also be hosting a fishbowl on international selfies research and a roundtable on research methodologies and selfie study while in Korea. We look forward to seeing some of you there!

If you cannot join us in Korea, we are online and waiting to hear from you.If you’d like to know more about the Selfies Research Network we have a website at www.selfieresearchers.com

If you’d like to join our very active Facebook group, it is athttps://www.facebook.com/groups/664091916962292/

NB: The Selfies Research Network is an international group of academics studying the social and cultural implications of the selfie. Our membership includes teachers, students, visual artists, reporters, and others from around the globe. Our projects include publications, conference panels, gallery installations, and teaching resources regarding the politics and aesthetics of selfie culture.

Last but not least, some of you who speak languages beyond English might enjoy this, made by one of our network members: