Digital media has become an inextricable part of our lives, and this is no exception for young people. They spend hours interacting with phones, computers, and TV from a young age. To empower the next generation towards smart, healthy, and happy media users, Movez Network was started by prof. dr Moniek Buijzen and dr. Esther Rozendaal. The network has now grown to include a diverse group of researchers linked to EUR and other universities and numerous societal partners. They have recently launched a website, movez-network.eu, to enhance collaboration and further develop their societal impact.
The Movez Network's vision started even before the network started three years ago. Together with Moniek, Esther began working on initiatives MyMovez and Bitescience. "With these initiatives, we aimed to build bridges between stakeholders and share research with practice. We want to do the same with Movez Network and for a specific goal to empower the next generation towards smart, healthy, and happy media users," explains Esther.
A reciprocal approach to research
The Movez Network includes the Movez Lab, consisting of researchers from the Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences, and societal partners such as schools, organizations, parents, and young people, ranging from children to young adults. For the researchers at Movez Network, the link with society is crucial. "We don't start our research within the university's walls; instead, we ask stakeholders what problems they face in society. We determine the appropriate research questions together and ensure our research outcomes reach societal partners," explains Crystal Smit. "The core idea of our research approach is that it should be a reciprocal relationship. Everyone in our network contributes equally, and it's not a one-way street," adds Moniek.
Addressing online hate
A prime example of this research approach is the 'Like or Cancel' campaign in which Movez Network recently participated. Researchers from the Movez lab collaborated with the theatre company Theaterhart to observe how children reacted to online antisocial behavior, such as hate comments, racism and shame sexting. To design effective school programs to prevent antisocial behavior online, the researchers talked to children about those behaviors. "After the theatre performance, we asked children how they would react if they perceived others to be targets of hate or discrimination or victims of shame sexting. We also asked them how they thought these online hurtful behaviors could be stopped. These insights were gathered and shared through our Instagram and with developers of educational programs such as Act or React," explains Chiara de Jong. "The ideas and needs of young people are often left out, and the content of these programs is frequently based on adults' ideas about what young people should learn."
The bridge between research and society
For the younger researchers in the network, being part of Movez Network meant a change from what they were used to. "When I started working here, I had to make the mindset to listen to our stakeholders and ask them what is important to guide us through your research," says Ying Chuck. "I find it important that my research also reach audiences outside the academic building. With Movez Network, we try to bridge research and society," adds Hannah Volman.
Platform to connect
With the new website, the Movez Network aims to create a platform for people to connect. People can post research ideas, and others can start joining and making sure that everyone interested in the topic connects with each other. For example, young people can read relevant tips and tricks and get inspired to participate in the research. For Jonas Schlicht, the website embodies what the Movez Network is all about "Being part of Movez Network means that you have easy access to our interdisciplinary network of researchers and partners. Which helps to carry out inter- and transdisciplinary research projects". Moniek Buijzen hopes the website can contribute to their long-term goals: "I hope that we will be able, if we look back in five years, that we say, okay, we found a way to be relevant for young people and can provide them a voice in the research that we are doing so that they feel empowered, listened to and taken seriously."