Supportive environments: Who says so?

Tagged with:

  • Mental health
  • Relationships and Sexuality Education
  • Attitudes and values
  • Healthy Communities and Environments
  • Health promotion
  • Relationships With Other People
  • Hauora
  • Years 5–8
  • Years 9–10
  • Years 11–13

Who says so? asks ākonga to identify ways in which the media portrays rangatahi (young people), describe ways that rangatahi present themselves on social media, and identify and describe how individuals and companies promote certain types of body image online and how this affects the mental health and wellbeing of rangatahi.

Three teenage students discussing over laptop screens

Understanding ourselves and getting on together — Activity collection

This resource is part of the Understanding ourselves and getting on together collection.

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Possible learning activities

Graffiti sheets

Head 6–8 large sheets of newsprint with a question; suggested questions are listed below. Place these on tables or hang them on walls. Ask ākonga to circulate around the room and add answers to each sheet. Remind ākonga that everyone can have their say and no one can cross out someone else's work or make inappropriate comments about it. They don’t have to answer all the questions. The questions could include:

  • What TV series are you watching at the moment?
  • What is your favourite social media platform?
  • What kinds of content do you enjoy creating and sharing online? 
  • Which are your favourite YouTube channels?
  • What is the best movie you have seen recently?
  • Which singer or group are you enjoying listening to at the moment?
  • What is the best thing online you’ve seen lately?
  • What are your favourite music genres?
  • What are your favourite music videos?
  • What are your favourite online or video games?
  • What are your favourite toys?
  • Who are your favourite social media stars/influencers? 
  • Who is the person you most admire at the moment?
  • What types of books do you like to read?
  • What sports do you play?
  • What cultural groups do you perform with?
  • What other groups do you belong to?
  • What after school activities do you enjoy?

It is then useful to ask ākonga to identify what it is that they enjoy or appreciate about the media they watch and engage with. This can be done by adding 'Why?' to the graffiti sheet questions, or holding a class discussion to review common ideas and trends as shown on the graffiti sheets.

Ask ākonga to create a simple digital or physical representation of themselves such as an illustration, a short video, or a selfie. Ask them to either add annotations to the image, or share in small groups, a brief description of how they made the image and their decisions about what to include in the image. This description may include information such as 'I like swimming so I drew myself in the ocean' and 'I took a selfie with my dog'. 

To conclude the activity, lead ākonga inquiry into the influence that the media has on the ways they think about and represent themselves. What kinds of images do they choose to share with their friends or whānau? Why?

Who says that I should look like that?

Ask ākonga to consider the media that they regularly watch and engage with. In groups, ākonga can describe examples of the kinds of images television and digital media usually present of:

  • boys their age
  • girls their age
  • teenage boys
  • teenage girls
  • adult men
  • adult women.

Each group can focus on one target group. Provide them with a large sheet of paper on which they can record their ideas, and/or ask them to copy examples of stereotypical images from the television and media sources identified on the graffitti sheets into a shared document. After ākonga have shared and recorded their opinions, discuss some of the following questions with them.

  • How many of the people we know actually look like this?
  • How would we feel if someone said we should look like this and we looked nothing like it?
  • Should we always try to look the way other people say we should look? Why or why not?
  • Why do you think people tell us we should look a certain way?
  • Who are the people who say we should look a certain way? (Draw out ideas ākonga have about how media influences our perceptions about how people should look and behave.)
  • Should people impose adult ideas about body image on young children who are still growing up and don't have adult bodies?
  • Which group of people (children, teenagers, adults, males, or females) do you think is under the most pressure to look a certain way? Why? 

Investigating filters and tools that edit photographic images

Find, and save into a shared document, a variety of before and after style images that illustrate the difference between edited and unedited photographs, and invite ākonga to consider the fact that almost all of the images of celebrities on social media and in magazines are edited.

Take a digital photograph of yourself, or find an unedited photograph of a celebrity or sportsperson, and ask ākonga to use a digital image filter or photo editing tool to edit the image. Alternatively ākonga could edit photos of themselves. Look at the images together and lead ākonga inquiry into the following questions:  

  • How do media images influence what we think is normal?
  • Do the images in the media make us feel any differently about ourselves?
  • Does television and digital media copy us or do we copy television and digital media?

Cultural and diversity considerations

All ākonga are part of wider whānau, hapū, iwi, and other community groups. Culturally capable kaiako and tumuaki know, value and integrate the cultural capital of their ākonga into the work of creating positive classroom communities. Classroom programmes dealing with mental health should be sensitively developed so that they respect and reflect the diverse values and beliefs of ākonga and the whole school community.

Who says so? gives ākonga the opportunity to critically read and evaluate the images they see online. As the kaiako, take care to ensure that the images ākonga use for discussion are age-appropriate.  

Kaiako notes

Focus inquiry questions around the learning outcomes before and after the activities to support ākonga to reflect and think critically about the activities.