Digital Lives

May 2013

This PINS seminar focused on how children and young people live their digital lives and particularly how these opportunities and challenges are playing out in the lives of some of the most vulnerable and excluded children and young people in school, community and family life.

How prepared and supportive are we as adults to help children and young people make the most of their digital lives? PINS members from across sectors heard inspiring inputs about great practice at our recent event.

Brian Donnelly from respect me reminded us of the continuing importance of friendships and connections. When it comes to concerns about bullying online Brian explored behaviour and impact and prompted discussion on what best practice in responding to bullying online might look like. PowerPoint HERE

Catriona Harper from Argyll and Bute Rape Crisis shared the innovative approaches being used in classrooms across Argyll and Bute, helping secondary school pupils to explore sexual exploitation and sexual abuse with a focus on online behaviours. PowerPoint HERE

Willie Manson from Stop it Now! Scotland talked about the role of the agency and shared resources which supports practitioners to support their own communities to protect children and prevent and stop abuse. PowerPoint HERE

Derek Robertson from Education Scotland pointed to the creativity and opportunity that children’s digital lives present to those with an interest in learning. He urged delegates to grasp the opportunities that there are for learners to create and not just consume.  Download PDF HERE

Delegates were asked to consider 3 questions throughout the day.

Click to view the responses.

Children and young people need knowledge and skills to use social media effectively whilst also controlling how others access their information. They would benefit from understanding risks and how to minimise them. In order to help and support young people live happy confident online lives we adults need to get up to speed.

For some young people, as well as their family members, the consequences of living life publically, where every thought or action is presented with little or no filter, needs to be considered. There needs to be a better understanding that what is posted online can remain there, and continue to harm, long after attempts are made to remove it.

There is a broad need for what delegates described as life, social or relationship skills development for young people; these skills and empathy for others will support young people in all contexts.

When it comes to behaviour online that might be considered bullying, children and young people need to see it as such, and not feel it is normal or acceptable. They need to think about their own behaviour, how that might be perceived as bullying, they need to learn the skills of de-escalating conflict, taking a moment.

When young people feel unhappy or unsafe in online environments they need to have the knowledge and confidence to approach an adult and share these worries; the adults then have to know how to respond in appropriate and proportionate ways.

Underpinning online behaviour (indeed any behaviour) means working with children and young people to develop values that underpin their behaviour towards others. This will mean exploring issues around gender and power in our day-to-day lives as well as digital lives.

For those of us who have not grown up in the digital world, where online lives can seem overwhelming, we need to get up to speed and recognise there is no turning back the clock.

We need to turn adult concerns about internet safety (recognising our duty of care in all contexts) into engaging programmes where children and young people remain excited about their online worlds but also become equipped to look after their own safety.

We need to utilise peers in learning.

As parents and workers we need to create the confidence in children and young people to come to us when they are concerned about their safety or wellbeing; this cuts across all domains where they live their lives, online and offline.

There is a need to engage better with parents, be more joined up in our approaches to promote learning and wellbeing online.

Local Authorities need to recognise the role of social media in young people’s lives and learning. It just isn’t realistic any longer to ban internet access or Facebook or YouTube in schools and youth work settings; so let’s utilise their potential and work with it.

While recognising the role and value of social networking, young people do also need to see the potential and learn skills for using mediums for learning and creating too; we can support them do this. 

How do we engage children and young people in a discussion about their online lives whilst respecting their right to privacy and a level of independence?

How up to date are our approaches and materials when we try to support children and young people navigate a rapidly changing environment?

Do we utilise social media and technologies in our relationship with children and young people? Are we missing opportunities to reach wider and deeper with information, learning, services and support?

How do we recognise our concerns as adults but stay firmly located in a celebration of the potential and excitement that online lives provide?

How do we involve peers in support for others?

How do engage with parents and share our approaches?

As practitioners in different sectors what does the digital world mean for our approaches and practices – are boundaries diminishing? Are we flexible and skilled enough to be working more together across young people’s digital lives?

What is the role (and what should be the role) of Scottish Government in pushing this agenda and supporting schools and other learning environments to catch up with developments and potential?

How do we work together on the idea of the ‘good digital citizen’?