Recently I’ve been having a look at some Social Networking Sites that colleagues have set up and came across an interesting conundrum (or at least I thought it was!). A youth provision had set up a Bebo site that has attracted a reasonable number of young people. I looked around the site and then thought I’d see what sort of access the young peoples’ profiles had (as education in this area is something I think we need to work on with youth workers). On clicking on a young persons profile I went through to their page and a whole set of photographs. I felt that one of the photos was inappropriate – it was of a sign saying ‘gay’ with an arrow pointing at another young person who had their back turned away. There were a few, not particularly nice, jokes in the comments section following this.
So the question I was left with was what, if anything, do I about this? Mike Amos Simpson has previously raised questions about how far we encroach into young people’s spaces and this crossed my mind. After all it wasn’t directly on the site managed by us.
However this didn’t sit comfortably with me. I was then talking with a colleague about social media in general and this topic came up. In discussion we concluded that this was roughly equivalent to when you’re driving a minibus full of young people to an event and they’re all chatting and you overhear an in appropriate comment. In this sort of situation you would find the right time to talk with the individual concerned about their comments on the bus and chat about your thoughts / their thoughts about what was said. So in this situation maybe I need to raise it with the youth worker managing the bebo site and then ask them to raise it with the individual concerned (and also talk to them about how they might want to manage their profile online)? Has anyone else come across this? What have you done in similar situations, or do you have any other thoughts and suggestions?
In conclusion for me this links in well to Mike’s recent post about “Why you shouldn’t use Social Media with Young People”, especially the part about thinking through how you are going to manage the site and the ‘what if’ scenarios.