Last week I had the incredible privilege of travelling to Brisbane to attend Australia’s first youth conference about cyberbullying. CONVO2019 brought together over 100 people aged 13-25 from all over Queensland, social media influencers, inspirational young Australians, and representatives from some of the biggest social media companies globally. The aim of the day: to find a way to campaign against cyberbullying.
As the day started, I was handed my name badge and some free water, and then made my way down to the comfortable beanbags on the conference floor. Our host, Elly Awesome, kicked off the day with an impromptu dance party, before introducing us to Di Farmer, Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women, and Peter Black, Chair of the Queensland Anti-cyberbullying Advisory Committee.
Our panel of young guest speakers then made their way to stage, and Elly lead them in an enlightening conversation about their experience with cyberbullying, the ways they learnt to confront that, and the gold mines of advice they wanted the attendees to take away.
From Elly Awesome, TV Host: “Sometimes it’s really hard to escape negativity but if you can try do your best to count your blessings it can help drown it out. But I think that the other important thing you can do is talk to your friends or loved ones or people around you. Talk about it, communicate.”
From Nathan Charles, Professional Athlete: “I think there are people out there that actually make their own insecurities go away by attacking others."
"I try and look at it optimistically as best I can and if I do see the negative I just try and push that to the background.”
From Rory Eliza, TikTok Star: “At the end of the day, you know who you are and don’t let any of these people define who you are because only you know who you really are.
If the app’s really getting to you just delete it. It’s really that easy.”
From Emma Carey, Walking Paraplegic: “Happy people don’t be mean to someone else. So if someone’s saying something to you, it is about them."
"Happy people aren’t mean people.”
From Riley Hemson, Instagram Influencer: “Whenever someone is saying something negative to you it is all on them. It is their insecurities coming through and let it sit with them. It’s not a reflection of you. It’s a reflection of the person who’s saying it.”
From Alright Hey, Entertainer: “It wasn’t until I started actually talking to people and being like “Hey you know what, I’m not okay”… my life got so much better!"
"If you can find your fabulousness, no matter what that may be, and just be so confident in that, I think that’s the right way to do.”
THE INSTAGRAM PANEL
Representatives from Instagram also spoke about some of the new features that the popular social media platforms are introducing to enhance user experience’s and cybersafety. We have a lot to look forward to on the entertainment side, with Instragram’s new story features including Polls, Questions, Countdowns and Quizzes, to name a few. But Instragram is also taking massive steps towards reducing cyberbullying and increasing cybersafety and personal wellbeing. Instagram now offers users the options to block, mute and restrict people from accessing or commenting on their channel. It’s also introducing a comment warning function, which will alert people when they seem to be sending a hurtful message to someone and try to intervene. You can learn more about these functions from Instagram’s Help Centre, plus access a range of wellbeing resources too!
After morning tea, the attendees were divided into age groups, and then split into smaller teams to work together to create a campaign message to tackle cyberbullying. I joined in with the 19-25 age group and we brainstormed an idea we would vote on to present to the rest of the conference at the end of the day. We had a lot of great ideas, including to “Connect, Reflect and Deflect” and to “#SwipeItOut”. Overall, it seemed like we wanted to approach this from a positive perspective.
The 19-25 age group voted on #SwipeItOut, and I joined in on presenting to the whole conference after lunch. Each of the age groups presented a unique approach to promoting the cause to the community. There were talks of billboards, t-shirts, bumper stickers, and apps.
I was really proud to be a CONVO2019 attendee and thought that the day was packed with so much useful information and some brilliant ideas from a range of unique perspectives. Although this is the first conference of its kind, I think it was a great success.
If anything, I felt that there was so much more we could have learnt from the influencer and social media panels that there just wasn’t time to address. All the attendees had the chance to write in questions, but very few were answered due to time constraints.
Overall, CONVO2019 was a fantastic event and can grow to be so much more in the coming years. I’m certainly hoping to make it to CONVO2020!