My Online Happy Ending

Theoretical framework

The Photo Story illustrates some of the situations young people have to deal with in their relationships and encourages us to reflect and discuss the matter from different points of view.

It focuses on starting relationships in an online environment. We should definitely not discourage young people from meeting people and dating online. For people with a non-heterosexual orientation, online dating can be a safer option. Nevertheless, it is important to be aware of the potential risks. 

Since the virtual (online) and real (offline) life are interconnected, we have to realize that our actions in the online world can have real-life consequences. The online environment can also tempt us to say and do things we would not do offline. However, just because we “only” write something instead of saying it to the other person face to face, it does not mean that it hurts less.

At the same time, in an online environment, we let things slide that we would normally deal with more radically. To report or block a profile represents a last resort for many people, but in many cases, it can be a very effective way to prevent various problems lurking in the virtual world. 

The ability to clearly express our needs, set personal boundaries, and not let others force us into communication situations where we do not feel safe also proves to be important. If our communication partner does not respond to our needs or does not respect them, we need to be able to protect and defend ourselves.

Even the online environment should meet certain standards, although they are often not set by the system itself. It is up to us to set the standards and collectively create them.

This activity is based on the belief that developing communication skills is equally important for both in-person and online communication. Principles such as mutual respect or empathy may be even more important in the virtual world where we cannot rely on all our senses – often, we cannot see the other person and therefore we cannot rely on non-verbal communication. Instead, we use emoticons.

Facilitator Team, NESEHNUTÍ

Practical guidelines

Activity structure and instructions

In this activity, participants follow the story of two young people meeting on the Internet and they use voting to choose the path the story takes.

Voting is an essential part of the activity and it is advisable to prepare in advance. If participants have the opportunity to connect to the Internet and use a smart device, you can use one of the available free applications that allow you to vote online in real-time. Alternatively, you can also use letter cards or have students vote by simply raising their hand; however, these forms are not as attractive as anonymous voting via smart devices.

Prepare the presentation (Photo Story) on slide 1 and give the following instructions:

Valentina is a high school student from a small village and Dan is a college student living in the city. They both decided to try online dating. You will decide on how their story develops.

Explain the voting method. Then, go through the individual slides. When you come across a question, instruct the participants to vote. When you get to the first question, tell the participants that they can make a decision based on how they think the character would decide or based on how they would decide, or they do not have to follow either of these options – the decision is entirely up to them. After the vote, click on the answer chosen by the most participants. Continue until the end of the story. 

Now, open a discussion. Adapt the questions to how the story unfolded. The questions might for example include: 

After the discussion, ask the group if they would like to try the activity again and change some decisions. If your time is limited, you can also show just one version of the story and close the activity after the discussion.

If you decide to use an interactive app, make sure to test it in advance on your smart device or with testers. You will avoid having a completely different question appear to students. Trust us; we have experienced that. 

Before using an interactive online app, make sure that the place where you will run the activity has a good connection. Also, check whether all participants have a smart device. If not, it is possible to have the students work in pairs. 

Facilitator Team, NESEHNUTÍ

Wrapping up and reflection

In the end, you may discuss the following questions: