Youtubers. Anxiety. Sexting. Digital Footprint.
It’s a brave new world for young people and youthwork.
Which of us could have imagined the iPhone 6 in 1999 when the Nokia 3210 was launched? And which of us could have imagined what the world that 17 year olds born then would be like?
On 14th September, a group of youth leaders from across the diocese gathered together with Jackie Rowlands and I (Sarah) to start to consider ‘What’s happening in the world of young people and the internet?’ and ‘how do we as youth leaders help them flourish?’
At the core of our approach is this – technology can be a positive or a negative. Young people are living in a whole new technological world. We need to be active in engaging with these two things.
When it came to the digital, worries ranged from:
• Pro-anorexia and self harm websites
• How we, as youth leaders, can use out technology for youth work
• How to put together an effective safeguarding policy
As youth leaders we know we’re facing challenges around:
• Dealing with ‘friend requests’ from under-18s
• Getting parental consent right
• Data protection
• Training others, like parents or co-leaders, to use digital well with young people
• Accountability with the technology we use to engage with young people
• Working with at-risk young people
• And so much more!
But fundamentally here were the guiding principles the group felt were essential for engaging online: • Have a policy
• Have no favourites
• Use it at appropriate times in the day
• De-escalate risk – always be moving interaction to a lower risk environment
• Close down and hand over accounts/pages when you transition on to new places and new things
• Know how to escalate issues through your safeguarding process
So what next?
Jackie and I are aware we have a way to go to be providing the best possible support we can in this area. As we reflect on and review our current safeguarding policies, we’ll be applying all we heard from the Roundtable Discussion to what we produce – so watch this space!
Got a perspective on Young People, Safgeuarding and Mental Health? Come and be a part of our next event!