Can edutainment programs make internet users active and informed?

Can edutainment programs make internet users active and informed?

Who says video killed the radio star? In 2019 and 2020, at least 10 million people in India tuned in to Zindagi Mobile, a radio show to help people develop a safe and trusted relationship with digital technology. The show told 10 stories in 58 cities, towns, and villages. Supported by Omidyar Network India, it was created and broadcast by Neelesh Misra, one of India's loved storytellers, and Big FM 92.7, a national radio station.

Zindagi Mobile achieved the #1 slot in Bangalore, Mumbai and Kolkata for some of its episodes, including during some of the primetime airings. But was it able to increase the listener's knowledge of digital technology? And did their attitudes and behaviours change? To find out, the Centre for Social and Behavioural Change (CSBC) at Ashoka University in partnership with the Busara Centre for Behavioural Economics, conducted a randomised behavioural evaluation with 2600 individuals from six cities.

CSBC's analysis suggests that people changed their behaviour in being responsible and safe online (for two of the episodes) as well as their attitudes (for five of the episodes) after listening to Zindagi Mobile. On average, respondents shared 11% less personal data with the research team after listening to the show. And an episode focused on misinformation led to a 70% increase in time that people spent before forwarding messages. However, this delay didn't lead to people being less likely to share something fake.

So, while the jury may still be out on whether video killed the radio star, CSBC's study shows that Zindagi Mobile and the ilk of edutainment can nudge safer online behaviour. The report provides many insights for innovators working on tech for good and responsible tech and pioneers of edutainment programs. It also covers the methodology. Dig in here.

And learn more about initiatives towards informed and active internet users in India that we are proud to support:

  • IntAct, an Initiative by CSBC and The Busara Centre, uncovering insights on consumer behaviour with privacy in India and Kenya
  • @reclaimyourprivacy, India's largest independent public awareness campaign for privacy with 65M+ views
  • Young Leaders for Active Citizenship (YLAC): Creating hours of engaging coursework on digital safety and agency which will be piloted as a mandatory add-on course with 30 schools in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities.
  • World Comics India: Running six workshops that train participants to express themselves through grassroots comics and draw out their experiences with the mobile phone
  • Point of View: Developing MeraDost, a platform that gives low-income women daily digital safety information as well as providing them with a helpline service for harassment and fraud
  • Tech4Dev: Developing Glific, an open-source WhatsApp-based communication platform that non-profits can use to seamlessly and efficiently reach their customers
  • The Centre for Internet and Society: which will partner with Tattle to develop and test a browser plug-in that helps individuals protect themselves and their children from gender-based violence on social media
  • The Swaddle: Will use creative story-telling to make privacy a better understood and widely discussed topic
  • Mythos Lab: Developing India's first online social media literacy module to teach users how to safely and responsibly use social media & also enable them to better identify, protect against and counter misinformation, online harassment and threats to their privacy
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