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Social Media as a Learning Media to Improve Digital Literacy

MA 2023
digital literacy and wellbeing, online safety and trust, social media, artificial intelligence, foot in the door technologies

Social media has revolutionised our communication and connections, breaking down geographical barriers and fostering global communities. However, alongside its undeniable benefits, a darker side has emerged. The rapid growth of online platforms has created a breeding ground for hate, harassment, and toxic behaviours. What was once celebrated as a symbol of digital empowerment now faces the challenges of cyberbullying, misinformation, and the erosion of trust. Individuals, communities, and entire societies are exposed to the harmful effects of online interactions, posing threats to personal well-being.

KindType aims to explore the concept of a "foot in the door" service, focusing on the crucial aspects of trust and safety, responsibility, and compliance in this era of digital socialisation.

*“Foot-in-the-door devices are products and services with functional offerings and affordances that work to normalise and integrate a technology, thus laying the groundwork for future adoption of features that might earlier have been rejected as unacceptable or unnecessary” - Pierce’s speculative design terminology.

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In today's digital age, the impact of social media on the relationship between teens and parents is an ever-present concern. Building upon the overview of social media's influence, we delve deeper into the effects it has on this crucial relationship. The exponential rise in cyberbullying, misinformation, and privacy issues has left both teens and parents grappling with the complexities of navigating these uncharted digital territories. Startling statistics reveal that over 40% of teens feel overwhelmed and become victims of online bullying. In response, parents find themselves torn between protecting their children and allowing them the positive connections and opportunities social media can offer. Striking the right balance becomes essential in fostering healthy parent-teen relationships in the digital age.

Our Major Insights:

  • Learning and Digital Literacy: The need for education and digital literacy surrounding social media is paramount. Teens and adolescents often feel overwhelmed and unprepared when exposed to these platforms without proper safeguards and guidance. Studies have shown that promoting digital literacy helps young users make informed decisions and navigate online spaces responsibly. 
  • Limitations of Active Mediation: While parental control measures can be effective to some extent, they do not necessarily change the behaviour of online users. Merely blocking or restricting access may not address the underlying issues and can lead to desensitisation to hate and harmful content. It is crucial to focus on holistic approaches that involve education, open communication, and fostering critical thinking skills.
  • Impact of Unregulated Exposure: Substantial evidence points to the negative consequences of unregulated exposure to social media, particularly among teens and adolescents. Research suggests a correlation between excessive social media use and mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. It highlights the importance of creating a safe and well-regulated online environment for young users.

new media & the new social order

Defining Literacy

Social Media Literacy can be defined stating from UNESCO’s definition of Media and Information Literacy (MIL), which is:

‘’A set of competencies that empowers citizens to access, retrieve, understand, evaluate and use, create as well as share information and media content in all formats, using various tools, in a critical, ethical and effective way in order to participate and engage in personal professional and societal activities. This means that a ‘media and information literate person must not only be a consumer of information and media content, but also a responsible information seeker, knowledge creator and innovator, who is able to take advantage of a diverse range of information and communication tools and media.’’

"It's an experience problem"

In our exploration of the challenges surrounding social media and its impact on teens and adolescents, it becomes evident that these issues are rooted in a larger problem: an experience problem. Each of the identified problems - privacy concerns, lack of knowledge, credibility issues, digital presence management, and limited engagement with the digital community - stems from users' firsthand experiences in the online world. These experiences directly impact their ability to effectively navigate the digital landscape, safeguard their privacy, access valuable resources, make well-informed decisions, maintain a positive digital identity, and actively engage with others. Resolving these issues necessitates an experiential approach that focuses on enhancing users' knowledge, skills, and confidence, enabling them to navigate the digital world responsibly and safely, and fostering a more positive and fulfilling online experience.

Our Approach

We call for a new design intervention that is more teen-centric and places value on online responsibility and safety as an integral part of adolescent and developmental growth, teaching teens the skills and giving them the confidence to engage safely and smartly with others through the Internet.


How might we take a more teen-centric approach and place value on online responsibility and safety as an integral part of adolescent and developmental growth, teaching teens the skills and giving them the confidence to engage safely and smartly with others through the Internet?


Introducing KindType, an in-context learning and wellbeing coach for adolescents (new social media users) and their guardians to bridge the gap between parental awareness and experiences in digital spaces. By taking a more ‘teen-centric’ instead of a ‘parent-centric’ approach to adolescent online safety, we help teens foster a stronger sense of personal agency for self-regulating their own online behaviours and managing online risks. 

KindType establishes a vital connection between teenagers and their guardians/parents, offering them access to easily understandable resources, relevant organisations, and digital support systems. It also fosters a network of friends, allies, and supporters, creating a community that prioritises safety and trust. This community is built upon the idea of learning and engagement on popular social media platforms, ensuring that teenagers have access to a supportive and secure environment as they navigate the online world.


The blueprint for the system creates a seamless flow of interconnected components, working together to provide a user-friendly experience. It starts with users inputting text, which is then transmitted to social networks and other platforms for interaction. The user experience and logic component handles queries and delivers results while prioritising data security through authentication and encryption. It also keeps track of conversation data to ensure a comprehensive experience. The cognition and intelligence part employs advanced algorithms to understand user inputs and interact with technology for accurate outcomes. Quality assurance monitors system performance and incorporates user feedback for ongoing improvements. This dynamic ecosystem continuously adapts to users' needs, guaranteeing a secure and intuitive experience at every interaction.

KindType has a profound impact on both teens and parents. For teens, it builds digital literacy, grants quick access to resources, promotes online safety, and nurtures a positive environment. Parents benefit from reduced monitoring, active engagement, teaching tools, and a tension-free atmosphere. By fostering understanding and support, KindType creates a positive digital experience for both teens and parents, empowering them to navigate the online world with confidence.


We would like to extend a special thanks to all the stakeholders who participated in creating KindType. KindType brought together various stakeholders including digital activists, technologists, and trust and safety experts from top tech companies. The collaborative effort aimed to address the challenges of online toxicity and promote a more positive digital experience. A significant milestone was the organisation of a co-creation workshop in partnership with EY Seren and Hopefeeds, which gathered students, designers, and activists. During the workshop, participants brainstormed and proposed potential modifications to enhance user experiences. The project also benefited from the guidance of Joel Bailey from, who provided valuable insights into AI-powered toxicity moderation. Additionally, Jeffrey Allen from the Ministry of Justice played a crucial role in supporting the conceptual development of the project.

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