Researcher of the Month
The power of kindness and its impact on media literacy
Using a growing evidence base which shows the psychological, educational and social benefits of kindness, Dr Jess Datu and his colleagues investigate how school-based kindness interventions can promote media literacy skills in teenage girls, in Hong Kong.
There is a growing interest in the benefits of kindness on a wide range of educational and mental health outcomes, including higher levels of life satisfaction, greater academic engagement at school and ‘empathic orientation’; an appreciation of how our actions impact on others. Secondary school pupils received a 2 session kindness intervention, which taught about the benefits of kindness and facilitated activities to promote kindness online.
The girls were asked to recall acts of kindness, both on and offline, before being encouraged to engage in acts of kindness online, such as providing others with emotional support or offering school-related help to peers. They were also asked to design a poster outlining the benefits of kindness. This simple intervention led to improvements in high level media literacy skills, including their consideration and awareness of how their actions online impact on others, as well as other wellbeing benefits including an increase in self-esteem.
Implications for schools – Schools should make use of existing evidence-based kindness resources and activities, which are often simple and inexpensive. Positive peer reporting schemes (where children report acts of kindness to teaching staff, and there is a reward system in place for these positive acts), the integration of kindness-promoting activities into formal lessons (read our podcast notes for further ideas) and ensuring that all staff model kindness, are effective starting points. The development of a kindness curriculum is optimal. Kindness-based media literacy education adds to a growing body of evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of school-based media literacy education.
Dr Datu would love to carry out further research with UK schools, especially boys’ schools. If you are interested in this, please contact email@example.com
Implications for parents – Simply counting acts of kindness has been shown to improve wellbeing. Encouraging children to list or recognise the acts of kindness they have carried out over the last few weeks can significantly boost their wellbeing.
Resources Created from and Related to this Research
Dr Jesus Alfonso D. Datu, wellbeing scientist and Assistant Professor in the Department of Special Education and Counselling
Dr Jesus Alfonso Daep Datu (Jess) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Special Education and Counselling at the University of Hong Kong. He is a wellbeing scientist with research programs in positive psychology, positive education, and inclusive education, exploring wellbeing factors and interventions that promote mental health, academic success, and inclusive attitudes towards students with special needs. He is also the Lab Leader of the Science of Happiness and Positive Education (SHAPE) lab. He edits several journals and was recently included in the list of ‘The World’s Top 2% Researchers Based on Scientific Impacts Across All Disciplines’ in 2019, following a study published by a team of researchers at Stanford University.