Facebook uses virtual reality to eradicate bullying in Mexico and Colombia

Facebook expanded in Mexico and launched in Colombia the initiative Misión Paz Escolar, a program to fight bullying.

Last Friday, November 1st, Facebook announced in a press release that it would expand its Misión Paz Escolar program in Mexico, in addition to launching it in Colombia.

This Facebook program uses virtual reality as a tool to educate about bullying. The company seeks to reach 330,000 teenagers in Mexico and 40,000 in Colombia.

Facebook wants to develop socio-emotional skills

The expansion of the Misión Paz Escolar in Mexico and its arrival in Colombia began in October. The initiative aims to develop socio-emotional skills in adolescents between 13 and 18 years of age, from public educational institutions, which help them to face bullying situations both in the real and virtual world.

Virtual reality devices will recreate situations of bullying. In this way, teenagers can witness different bullying situations. The tools will show alternatives to decide how to proceed in the various cases presented. The experience will also allow them to review the moments and consequences of the decisions made.

The Facebook program is a product of the company’s collaboration with the Yale Emotional Intelligence Center. These two organizations have worked together to create the Bullying Prevention Center. The Yale organization considers it necessary to equip adolescents and adults with emotional intelligence skills that allow them to deal with conflicts at school.

Local businesses recreate bullying experiences.

The Facebook initiative also had the help of startups from Mexico and Colombia, who worked on content creation.

The experience that students will live was developed by Yeltic, a Mexican company dedicated to the development of virtual reality, with the advice of organizations such as Save the Children, REDIM, and specialists such as Dr. Lewis Bernstein, former vice president of Global Sesame Street Productions.

In Colombia, María Carolina Hoyos (ICT expert, president of AldeaLab and Fundación Colombia en Solidaridad) and Red Papaz participated in locating the contents of the program and the guide for educators built in collaboration with the Yale Emotional Intelligence Center.

The execution of this program will be possible in both countries thanks to the collaboration with authorities: the Ministry of Education and Fundación Colombia Útil in Colombia; and the Foundation in Motion in Mexico.

“Technology is a tool that, used responsibly, has the power to do good. This program uses virtual reality to educate against bullying and avoid cyberbullying. We want Mission Peace School to contribute to improve relations between students and their environment and help them develop knowledge about security and assertive communication tools,” said Héctor Faya, director of Latin American Programs for Facebook.

The virtual reality experience consists of five capsules on simulated situations of harassment in the digital world and beyond:

  • Bullying prevention. Underlines the importance of thinking before sharing, commenting, or publishing to foster empathy and respect in social media and internet interactions. This chapter also deals with teaching the tools available to protect privacy.
  • Online security. It shows how the problems or fights we often face in our real-life escalate to the virtual world. Emphasizes the importance of taking care of security in social networks and electronic platforms by not sharing passwords and data.
  • Create awareness. Raise awareness about the importance of knowing the people we add in our social networks and gives visibility of the tools available to report any inappropriate behavior on the platforms.
  • You decide what to share. It raises awareness about the risks of sharing sensitive content and guides you about what to do if you face a situation where the person feels threatened or extorted.
  • Choose who chat with you. Stresses the importance of interacting on digital platforms with people we know in real life and thus avoid getting involved in risk situations.

Colombia is the second country in which Facebook presents this initiative. The first was Mexico with positive results: 30,000 young people lived the experience, of which in the end 81% perceived greater personal effectiveness when using social networks in complex situations, and 63% said they felt more capable of expressing or defending their opinion on the networks social.