COVID-19 has accelerated the digitisation of our society and economy; as we have spent more time at home and are less able to move around, we are using digital technology more to connect. In addition, we are all being impacted by the pandemic and social distancing rules differently, having effects on varying parts of our community differently and the levels of support they need.
We want our services to connect people during these challenging times and be a positive experience for them as we all come together to cross the bridge to the other side of this pandemic. To do this, we’re building new products that promote greater safety and well-being for the people using our services, we’re working with local child safety organisations to promote tips and strategies to help parents and young people have a safe experience online, and we’re supporting local crisis lines across Australia and New Zealand to promote greater awareness of the support that exists for people at this time. We have previously shared updates on our response to COVID-19 on 10 March, 23 March, 30 March, and 3 April.
New products supporting community health & wellbeing
During this period, we have prioritised new features and product updates that support the safety and well-being of our community.
We have launched new Safety Tips on Messenger to help people learn about and choose ways to protect themselves while interacting with suspicious users and activities. Safety Tips are brief notices that pop up in a chat before you interact with someone with information about spotting scams or imposters or ways to deal with adults contacting you if you’re a minor.
We also launched Guides on Instagram which is a new feature to curate tips and resources in one place. We partnered with a national mental health organisation, Headspace, together with AFLW player and wellbeing advocate Tayla Harris who each shared their Guides for ways to manage your health and wellbeing during social isolation.
Youth & family wellbeing
As families learn to use technology to connect in new ways, we are supporting parents and young people to have the information they need to ensure their families feel safe and empowered online.
We’re working with Susan Mclean – Cyber Safety Expert to bring Australians a 10-part series offering advice and guidance for parents and educators on how to support young people to keep safe in cyberspace. The workshops cover a range of issues including how best to manage devices, screen time cyberbullying and digital reputation. To date, this series has reached more than 27,000 views and parents and educators have benefitted from the advice and support and having the opportunity to have their questions answered.
Cyber Safety Solutions
A new social research program is also examining the changing aspect of technology for Australian families in staying connected, informed, and healthy through social isolation and how attitudes have changed over time. This Digital Home is a social research project designed and conducted by national children’s charity, the Alannah & Madeline Foundation, in partnership with Facebook. Australian families will share their experiences of living in social isolation, what they have learned, how it has impacted their lives and the role technology has played in shaping their experience. This qualitative research process goes beyond the numbers and provides us with a full picture of the various perspectives and nuances across a diverse study of families and their experiences with coping and thriving through social isolation. The final report will be published in September 2020.
Facebook is proud to partner with long-standing safety partner, Project Rockit in a new adaptation of the Digital Ambassadors program, launched in 2018 as a two-year commitment to reach more than 10,000 high school students with the skills to build positive online communities. As a result of the global pandemic, this digital-first initiative ensures students continue to be supported and empowered to find creative ways to build supportive and positive communities. #WeGotThis is a four-week program delivering positive messaging, skills, and resources for support into the inboxes of young Australians.
As part of our global commitment to provide $2m to support crisis helplines, we are working locally to support Australian and New Zealand communities get the help they need. These organisations offer critical support for people struggling with loneliness, anxiety, and other mental health issues and we want to help them increase capacity quickly during this time.
In New Zealand, Youthline is providing critical support for young people in crisis to get the help they need quickly. We worked together to understand the support young people may need by creating a survey that uncovered young people are dealing with feelings of fear, anxiety, and grief during COVID-19. Importantly, more than 72% of all respondents agreed that COVID-19 and lockdown have had an impact on their mental health. The results also highlighted the most important services Youthline could be offering young people right now is through a Text Helpline followed by a Web Chat Helpline.
Further, we collaborated with Youthline to provide them with operational funding and support to develop a fundraising campaign to allow Youthline to continue to offer services to young people and raise awareness about their helpline.
Youthline New Zealand
In Australia, Lifeline is answering more than 3,000 calls a day from Australians feeling isolated and overwhelmed and using services like Facebook to seek out support from Lifeline. Facebook has made a $50,000 funding commitment to support Lifeline’s “30 seconds to save a life” campaign and is encouraging others to make a donation through a Facebook Fundraiser that we’ll match.
Lifeline is also featured in the Facebook COVID-19 Information Hub to provide locally relevant crisis help information to Australians and is a continuation of an ongoing partnership, Facebook provided $50,000 in advertising coupons and support for the Bushfire Crisis Helplines for fire-affected communities.