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Looking for more digital awareness. Interview with Social Warning

Digital is a fundamental part of our days: can we stay in the right way?


For years we have focused on learning computer science, understood as the use of a keyboard and the creation of an email address. Today we are born digital natives, the use of these tools is written in the genetic heritage; missing is the education to the conscious and ethical use of digital tools. Social Warning was created to fill this gap. We talked about it with Luca De Rosa, co-founder and coordinator of Social Warning trainers.

What is the goal of Social Warning?

Formally born in 2019, Social Warning aims to train citizens aware of the use of digital: the 300 volunteer trainers, present throughout Italy, are people who know this world and want to talk about it properly with people.


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Un post condiviso da Social Warning - progetto del Movimento Etico Digitale (@movimentoeticodigitale)


What are the specific issues?

Social Warning is the flagship of a larger project, the Digital Ethical Movement. Under this name and with ad hoc initiatives, we address different issues such as digital reputation, sexting, cyberbullying, social addiction.

What other projects are part of the Digital Ethical Movement?

Non Sei Liber*, which follows the rhythms of an online newsroom and tells the limits and potential of digital; SexEdBot, a bot on Telegram, behind which there are experts, which offers a digital sexuality consulting service. And also: the Scientific Observatory on Digital Education, which draws up an annual report on the use of the Internet by new digital citizens, based on the data we collect during our meetings.

How does your meeting articulate?

It usually lasts 2 hours. We often go to speak in schools, but we also organize many interventions with adults. It is never a frontal lesson, but a dialogue between trainer and audience. Each trainer follows the guidelines of Social Warning, but puts a lot of his, on the aspect of the digital that knows more.


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Un post condiviso da Social Warning - progetto del Movimento Etico Digitale (@movimentoeticodigitale)


Is it harder to talk to teenagers or adults?

With teenagers it 's easier: you can still train them because they are open-minded. With adults, for 30 years they have always had the same approach to digital: it is difficult and tiring to understand that there can be another way to live online.

Do you feel the same interest?

Generally there is an initial enthusiasm; when the day of the meeting arrives, the participation decreases. We’re very good at postponing urgent things, and the conscious use of digital is one of them. It’s perceived as a technology you can master very well, a safe place, until something happens. We want to say "reason, don’t trust blindly and be open to change your mind". But above all to remember that what you do online remains: it can do good, as well as bad, to yourself or to others.

That’s what you call digital responsibility, right?

That’s right; many people we train have no idea what it is. There is no perception that if we write something on social media, we are not talking in a room. Today, the room in which we speak is the world: if we look at the comments on social media or sites that pretend to be information, we understand that few people ask the question "what am I doing publishing this content?".


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Un post condiviso da Social Warning - progetto del Movimento Etico Digitale (@movimentoeticodigitale)


How do you feel about AI?

Artificial intelligence is on everyone’s lips today because there is media and economic interest, but it was not born yesterday: we talk about AI since the late Nineties; Open AI was officially founded in 2015! We are working to create a format with which to deal with the topic: the idea is to make people aware that behind this technology, the information it draws, there are people. It is not possible today to think that it replaces the human being on some things, therefore: cool AI, but at our side. Not for us.

I understand that Social Warning is increasingly solid and structured: have you thought about exporting the format out of Italy?

Today it is difficult because we are all volunteers, supported only by 5x1000 donations and some partnerships with companies and foundations. We are working with other European companies such as ours to create a network of associations and to promote the European Digital Citizenship Day, a day on the theme of digital awareness. We really need to talk more about digital education: it is not included even in the hours of civic education!


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What is the biggest fear people have of digital?

I can’t say one in particular. When they realize that they know little about the instrument, that they are weak and that they are giving away data without knowing where it ends, I feel a sort of detachment from the smartphone.

And the no-perceived potential?

The infinite possibility of developing knowledge. For example in the fields of information, languages, finance or sex. Things that are hardly discussed at school.

The risk of running into incorrect and harmful information there is however...

It’s part of the game; we want to raise awareness about how to recognize true information from false information. Once you understand the method, you can no longer get hurt and the digital world really becomes an endless resource of knowledge!


Illustration by Gloria Dozio - Acrimònia Studios