At the global level, digital media have brought about unprecedented advantages for every society. They have shaped the way people interact, and have made us feel more connected than ever before. But the speed with which information spreads through digital technology poses another challenge for society.

For a second year in a row, UNICEF together with ICTSlab brought youth and social activity PONDER with 60 young people aged 14-21 years old were engaged in a three-day long workshop full of lectures, exercises and games during November 19-20-21.

PONDER is a youth social program organized in the frame of “Transformation of the National Response to Human Trafficking in Albania and from Albania” and aims to promote critical thinking especially towards information and messages young people consume every day in social and traditional media.

The mission of PONDER is to instill critical thinking at young ages by training and educating them with a curriculum which emphasizes the important role of media in our culture and society. Shaping a critical approach towards information, identifying and analyzing different perspectives, judging the authenticity, value and source of information are some of the skills young people exercise during PONDER.

60 adolescents divided into groups and assisted by 15 mentors gained knowledge in critical media literacy, types of media and their audiences, reading images and notion of beauty and crated a sketch and wrote down a media article.

Towards the end of PONDER workshops, young people wrote articles which were evaluated by the jury and our special guest Mr. Ardi Pulaj, journalist at Top-Channel national TV. Out of 28 works that came from PONDER, 11 of them were announced winners and they will be rewarded with internships at renowned media companies in Albania.

PONDER program proves once again that Albanian youth are a transformative force in society. A special announcement was made during certification ceremony for these young people. Mr. Kushtrim Shala, co-founder of ICTSmedia, announced “Young Critics Competition” that will take place exclusively through PONDER app.

The competition aims to evaluate new talents critical writing and reading by giving young people the opportunity to compete in three categories.

The best works will be rewarded with an ICT equipment. Young people can submit articles in the categories: Writing – critical media reading; Interpretation and decipherment of news; Identifying news and their influence on viewers.

The winner of PONDER and their works

Tea Aliaj – Albania’s EU integration, a light at the end of the tunnel or another circle of Dante’s hell?

Briselda Kumanaku – The death penalty

Lala Paja – Cartoons, stereotypes and underestimation of the female figure in cartoons

Markel Pajo – Food abuse, its effects

Soni Seli – Fake News on Facebook

Nigel Xherimeja – Failure is part of the process and helps you become the best version of yourself

Kristina Rrustemi – The impact of gender stereotypes on inequality and discrimination of women in the labor market

Elsea Hyso – To stay or not to stay; that is the issue

Arbana Doci – Purity of political figures

Selina Como – The past not forgotten…

Sonja Petro – Conveying information and its veracity in the media