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Devoted & Disgruntled 12: What Shall We Do About Theatre and the Performing Arts Now?

Does social media isolate teenagers? Can theatre help?

Jack Price - 15 January 2017

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This session was supported by the D&D community, who donated money to allow teenagers to attend the event. Thank you to all those who donated, the extra funds will go towards a bursary to involve teenagers in D&D at future events.
This report takes the form of notes on comments. Its a big subject and we scratched the surface.

The session began with descriptions of how teenagers themselves did or didn’t use social media.
Two didn’t, two did, one didn’t comment.

A hand show concluded that 80% of the assembled 16/20 or so people thought social media could be isolating for young people.

Ideas streamed in such as; the research that Facebook creates a dopamine hit on likes and responses and creates an addictive response and that depression is becoming a major issue. (ref. Simon Synack (sp?)

This was countered by the view that being a teenager has always been hard and that social media is being blamed for what has always been the case, its hard growing up!
People said that it may be shocking that young people are depressed but we know because we have a society that allows them to speak out and it was always thus.

It was then also strongly stated that sites like Instagram put girls under specific perfection pressure and that suicide rates have raised in the current young generation.

One of the young people said she enjoyed drama because it allowed her to be herself. She felt, in school drama she could do things without risk, because it was in a drama context. This felt a clear point.

Most speakers expressed that social media allowed you to create a persona, which is very like theatre.

It was agreed that there isn’t a simple answer to social media, it is all about the dose.

A very clear idea was that drama helps you discover who you are, and instead of developing yourself and discovering yourself, within the context of social media you are developing a perfected version of yourself online. This was seen as not always useful in the developing years.
It was understood we all have different personas.
Drama allows you to study complex characters and the process of making drama is infectious and helps to teach us how to be human.

What rang true was that as teenagers/young people we are discovering ourselves by asking Who Am I? Theatre education empowers in helping you discovering who you are.

The importance of meditation and mindfulness in schools (and without) was expressed as important in the context of discovering yourself.

A young person said that at school people often prefer to text rather than talk face to face and that drama helps face-to-face communication.
The idea that young people are getting out of practice with face-to-face communication was widely agreed upon.
Two of the young people stated that the current state education system feels crushing and damaging and that you are trapped and the role of drama isn’t being used properly.
There was a really strong reaction by the teenagers to the pressure of grades in drama and the idea of looking at a system of no sets and no grading was received with big nods.

Ideas for solutions.

Stopping Cuts in Drama Education.
Great Drama School Teachers, who can navigate students through the current grading system and lift them up.
Drama Therapy
Dance Movement Therapy
More extra curricular Drama
Teaching people effectively how to manage social media, it was commented on that in schools the people who teach PHFE are sometimes not qualified to do so.

Everyone agreed that studying, rehearsing and playing complex relationships in drama both in and outside school, teaches you about life and is very important to the growth of healthy human beings.









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