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Editorial IBSA31 May 20244 min read

The spring HappyLab

When it comes to young people’s wellbeing and identity, creating spaces for discussion and reflection is vital. And we did just that with HappyLab, part of the Happiness2.0 initiative and the broader Let's Science! project. This engaging and inspiring experience alternated between theory and practice, encouraging those taking part to explore key issues to support their personal growth.

IBSA Foundation hosted the first ‘HappyLab’ event from 22 to 26 April 2024 at its headquarters in Carlo Cattaneo House. The second is taking place in the autumn. 

The initiative was developed as part of the Happiness2.0 project, in partnership with Università della Svizzera italiana (USI) and the Department of Education, Culture and Sport (DECS) of the Canton of Ticino. Over 200 pupils from the Lugano 1 and 3 and Locarno secondary schools took part, as well as young people from Fondazione Amilcare. The aim was to explore the theme of digital wellbeing by encouraging reflection on subjective happiness, personality development and the importance of social relationships.



The experts involved 

The workshops were run by experts specialised in psychology and communication who led the discussions and activities by drawing on their experience and skills:

  • Laura Marciano, a research associate at Harvard University, and the person in charge of the Happiness2.0 project;
  • Dario Gennari, psychologist and psychotherapist at the Rete Operativa health clinic;
  • Pietro Bianchi, psychology graduate and research assistant in the Happiness2.0 project at USI;
  • Alessia Robbiani, clinical psychology student and research assistant in the Happiness2.0 project at USI.

IBSA Foundation director Silvia Misiti presented the event, along with the Foundation’s team: Jacopo Crespi, communication specialist, Sara Comodo, administration and events manager, and Nicole Nasta, communication intern.

Social media under scrutiny, with discussions and an experiment

During the theoretical part of the event, Laura Marciano presented the results of studies on the impact of social media on teenagers’ lives. The participants had the opportunity to voice their own opinions on this subject through anonymous polls, opening a frank dialogue on the matter. What’s more, the ‘One of your peers is watching you’ experiment showed how the human brain is sensitive to the opinion of others, especially when those people are the same age as us.


One, none, or one hundred thousand masks

So many masks were worn by Vitangelo Moscarda, protagonist of Luigi Pirandello’s most famous work, ‘One, None, and One Hundred Thousand’. And so many are worn by young people today! 
During the debates, the young people themselves said that they use filters on their social media profiles, for fear of not being accepted or understood. They also reported having several accounts, in an absurd game of masquerade!   


'I’ve got two accounts: a serious one and another where I don’t post that much. When I post photos in the private one with my friends, I don’t worry about whether or not I look good. It’s more fun using that one with friends.’ (One participant)


And it was precisely through play, with each person creating their own mask, that the event gave participants the chance to explore the complex notion of identity in a tangible way. The colourful masks made during the workshop became powerful visual symbols of the many-sided Self carried within each participant, both consciously and subconsciously. This experience prompted inner dialogue and an exchange with the group about the meaning of being truly oneself in a world riddled with expectations and external influences.


The pyramid of happiness

The event ended by reflecting on the concept of Flourishing and wellbeing, exploring the various aspects of happiness. The teenagers were asked to think about the question 'What does being happy mean to you?’ and share their own thoughts on magnetic notepads, ranking them in a pyramid of values according to the importance for their own wellbeing.


L'uso di filtri e maschere non deve essere demonizzato. Questi elementi - confermano gli psicologi - non sono solo mezzi di vanità, ma possono anche essere potenti strumenti di espressione personale e - se usati in modo coscienzioso - non compromettono la creazione di relazioni autentiche e reali.

In the age of social media, the pursuit of happiness is entangled with the management of our online image. The online world becomes a stage where people can choose how to present themselves and what to reveal about themselves to others. Masks can help in this context, making individuals feel safe from judgement and criticism, and giving the shyest the courage to express themselves and show sides of themselves that would otherwise remain hidden.

The use of filters and masks shouldn’t be demonised. The psychologists confirmed that these devices aren’t just about being vain: they can also be powerful tools for self-expression, and, if used properly, don’t compromise the forging of authentic and real relationships.


Editorial IBSA

The IBSA Foundation for scientific research promotes authoritative and accessible science education for health protection and supports young students and researchers through Fellowships and many other dedicated events.

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