Blogging for and about Youth Work and Young People

Posts tagged ‘young people’

Social Media and Gender

Image

This picture is taken from the latest research report Social Media, Social Life: How Teens View Their Digital Lives from Common Sense Media’s Program for the Study of Children and Media. They surveryed over 1,000 13- to 17-year-olds nationally to understand how they perceive social media (like Facebook and Twitter) affects their relationships and feelings about themselves.

I have just read the headline areas which cover a number of different topics, from wanting time ‘unplugged’ to preferring face to face conversations however the area that particularly struck me from a youthworkers perspective was the bit I’ve highlighted in relation to young womens feelings / thoughts concerning social media.

I hadn’t really thought about social media in the context of gender and this info graphic I think is essential for Youthworkers. (along with the others produced on the website).

I think there can be an assumption by youth workers that social networking and online relationships are happening ‘elsewhere’ (as in not in reality, not on the ground) and therefore aren’t important compared to the actual face to face activity or work that is happening. However so much of a young persons life now (including parents)  is online that it is essential Youth Workers understand what is happening in this area and include it in their curriculum. And the point raised for me by the first picture is what are we doing for young women in this area? How are we supporting them with their thoughts and feelings in relation to what is posted, especially photographs. I’d be interested to hear about youthworkers who are exploring this in their local youth groups, and what they / you are doing to support young people in managing and living ‘online’?

Young Carers Work develops

The weekend before last a group of young carers from West Sussex took part in the 13th Young Carers Festival bringing together young carers from across the country for a weekend packed full of activities at Fairthorne Manor with the support of the YMCA.

This is an annual event and caters for 2000 young carers giving them the opportunity to take a break and spend time with peers, make new friends and share stories. A range of activities from outdoor sports to crafts, discos &  bands on the festival stage this is a fun-filled weekend full of activities. Read more about it from young carers themselves.

Young Carers work throughout West Sussex has developed and has become a great partnership between the Young Carers Service which is part of Social Care and the Youth Support and Development Service. Local groups have been set up across the county and now operate on a fortnightly basis giving all young carers the opportunity to take part in activities especially for them. Alongside this we have an active programme of positive activity days which happen during the holidays providing a range of personal development opportunities where young carers learn a range of different skills and increase their self confidence.

A developing aspect of our work is the creation of a group of older Young Carers (16+) who will be setting themselves up as an independent group to represent the voice of Young Carers and look at Services for them. I’ll report later how it goes!!

Young People from West Sussex at Parliment

On 4 November 2011, Members of the UK Youth Parliament  (known as MYPs) sat in the House of Commons and voted on which of  five issues ought to become the priority campaign for the UK Youth Parliament in the coming year. 

The Youth MPs attending from West Sussex were:

  • Liam Dallamore – Ifield Community College, Crawley.
  • Lola Cole – Steyning Grammar School.
  • Dominic Stannard – Worthing College.
  • Samuel Theodoridi – St Philip Howard Catholic School. 

As part of our ongoing development for the West Sussex County Council website for young people Yourspace we are encouraging young people to blog about their experiences. Read here for Samuel Theodoridis’ views of the day.

Positive Images, Positive Young People

In the governments recent Positive for Youth discussion paper one of the areas under discussion is the negative perception of young people and what can be done about it.  How can we and young people work together to counteract negative media portrayal?

This is a key aim of  West Sussex Youth Service and West Sussex Council of Voluntary Youth Services  who joined together in partnership at the South of England Show to show young people in a different light. Working with young people we developed a main stand, “Teen Square” where young people showed their wide range of talents, and then a number of differing stands and activities to promote the services available to young people. We feel that this both successfully engaged young people giving them an opportunity to perform and showed the wider public what amazing talent we have here in West Sussex! See what you think!

The Big Society in Practice

With further reductions in Youth Services I continue to be intrigued by the concept of Big Society and how this is portrayed by some as the panacea to all the financial reductions. Now – don’t get me wrong, I’m all for contributing and volunteering in your local community and believe voluntary youth services are particularly strong.  It’s just that basing policy and services on the assumption that people who volunteer will want to do more, with little to no funding and do what we would like them to do has the potential to be either the most amazing idea ever or one that is fundamentally flawed. I tend to err towards the later.

As we move to Targeted Services due to funding reductions we are withdrawing from the universal delivery of generic youth clubs in the more affluent areas of the county. This affects many of our rural villages.  With this in mind I am one of probably many who is working with volunteers within local villages to see how they can take on the running of the local youth club. The meeting the other evening was a great example of what individuals are prepared and not prepared to do. The group are really keen to ensure that the club in their village remains open. They want to do as much as they can to do this and want us to work with them to find youth workers. However they are also really clear that they can’t do this without support and involvement from ‘professionals’ who know about systems, policies and how to work with young people.  We are able (at the moment) to offer advice, guidance and support and have also pointed them in the direction of voluntary organisations working in this field. However whilst they are happy to volunteer they don’t want to have to take on responsibility for employing staff, health and safety both on and off site….and the list goes on. Members however are equally clear that we can no longer employ staff to undertake youth work in these areas and that all the work is the responsibility of the volunteer groups. Impasse!

In some of the areas under discussion there are small groups of young people who have quite challenging behaviors. The group are aware of their limitations and can’t understand why we are looking to them as volunteers to deliver what they believe is an essential service for young people that should be delivered by those qualified to do so. This resonates for me with what Nick Wilkie wrote last September:-

“Nobody has suggested that our banks, for example, should be led into recovery by armies of well-intentioned volunteers. So surely we don’t think that equally complex social ills can be remedied entirely without professional expertise and full-time commitment?” (See full post here)

Local communities know this, volunteers know this, we know this and yet still we march towards the dismantling of universal services regardless of the potential damage this may cause. In the meantime the local communities and I are still meeting to see what we can create in spite of policy, the Big Society, and other good (?) intentions because we all know that at the end of the day the ones who are going to miss out are those most in need of support, encouragement and opportunities – young people!

Digital Media in the Youth Work Curriculum

Courtesy of Mosman Library

I am currently looking at the programmes that we will be delivering and developing for the Targeted Youth Support part of our new service. In doing this I have been reflecting on how we ensure that we embraceDigital & Social Media and make sure that they are an inclusive part of what we are doing.

For instance when we are looking at risk taking behaviour, are we making sure that we include online risk? When delivering courses on Independent Living do we include advice and information about identity on line, online gaming, healthy lifestyles and the impact of social media as well as other areas of digital media. Do we support young people in how they can use the internet to find information and check whether this information is correct? What digital literacy are we including in our programmes?

These reflections have been prompted by a number of people and reports, that I have recently heard or read. For example:-

In Munch, Poke, Ping  Stephen Carrick-Davies considers the risks which vulnerable young people, excluded from schools and being taught in Pupil Referral Units (PRUs), encounter online and through their mobile phones.

Sangeet Bhullar  is the Founder and Executive Director of WISE KIDS, a non-profit organisation providing innovative training programmes and consultancy in New Media, Internet and Mobile Technologies, Internet Proficiency, Literacy and Safety. A key aspect of their work is founded on the belief that individuals and communities need the knowledge, skills and tools to understand and harness the power of the Internet and Mobile technologies.

Risks and Safety for Children on the internet: the UK Report by Sonia Livingstone, Leslie Haddon, Anke Görzig and Kjartan Ólafsson presents initial findings from a UK survey of children and their parents designed to provide a unique insight into the balance of opportunities and risks experienced by UK children on the internet

Reading these articles and browsing other articles on line have made me wonder how we start to ensure a systemic approach to ensuring that young people, particularly those not in school settings, gain the skills to make informed choices around their use of the internet.

I’d be keen to know if you’re doing anything around this and how you are making sure that digital literacy gets covered in informal education.

Channel 4 SMS Drama

I’m curious about Channel 4s new idea for an SMS drama. Ivy4Evr is being promoted as “an educational project that deals with issues of sex and drugs as part of a frank and detailed drama.”

The site itself looks very limited at the moment (or it could just be the impact I’m experiencing at the moment re. software downloads which I wrote about in a previous post).

I’m interested to see how this progresses as it could be useful as a way in which to engage young people. However I am also wary about the declaration that this is free. They state that:

“If you text her back she will chat to you. Taking part is free but you will pay for any SMS you send to Ivy at your standard rate.”

When you look at the small print in the terms and conditions the whole point of the game is to engage with Ivy, that she will text you and that you need to respond to take part and that response is going to cost, so actually it isn’t free. Maybe I’m playing with semantics here but…..

Anyways, I’m keen to see how it moves forward and interested in the programes foundations. What about you?

Developing Apps for Charity and Youth Work

I’m intrigued by the possibility of developing apps for working with young people through supporting, advising and educating them in all aspects of personal development. Recently I came across iHobo from Depaul, a youth homelessness charity. The free app is designed to challenge perceptions around homelessness and is the work of charity Depaul UK and advertising agency Publicis London. The Charity  identified that it needs to attract new donors to support it’s work, and promote itself to a younger audience, hence the app. According to Depaul:

“A young homeless person lives on your iPhone for three days. Take care of him, or his life could spiral out of control. You’ll need to be there for him, day and night, providing food, money, warmth and support. He’ll alert you when he gets into trouble or needs your help, and the speed of your response could be the difference between him making it through in one piece, or becoming addicted to drugs. Can you keep him on the straight and narrow?”

I haven’t downloaded the app yet to see it in action however I really like the way in which Depaul have identified where it needs to develop. They’re using a range of social media tools to do this, including youtube and mobile technology. Information available states that the app is designed to make you pay attention, and think about how you can make a difference. It uses Apple’s latest “Push Notification” technology to send alerts to you when iHobo needs help. With live interactive footage it is trying to make this  virtual experience as real as possible. In all sorts of ways it is reaching its target audience through the very medium that they are using daily. How many of us are doing that in our youth work, or childrens services? What sort of things could we do with this if we put our minds to it? Not being technical minded I’m not sure how it all works however I’m sure that there can and will be more public service apps in the future.

iHobo is free to download so why not have a look and give it a try? Let me know your thoughts!

Notes from the Connected Generation Conference 2010 – Part One

Courtesy of Elsie esq

WoW! What a day! Thanks to Tim Davies and Katie Bacon!

I am currently reviewing my notes from the Connected Generation Conference and my brain is brimming over with ideas, thoughts and actions!

The day started off with a number of thought provoking speakers. Amy  Sample Ward gave a quick ( 🙂 ) and inspiring talk setting the context for interacting and engaging young people online, Joanne Jopling discussed the detached work she has been delivering with young women in Gateshead and how this moved on line with some of the pros and cons of using Facebook and MSN Katie Bacon discussed the use of social networking for youth participation and talked through some of her experiences in Devon, again highlighting areas that youth workers need to consider when interacting online. Kieron Kirkland, a learning researcher for Futurelab talked through  InfoCow an online resource that supports young people to explore their aspirations and entitlements and engage with the information, networks and tools that can help put these into practice. And finally Mog talked about Digital Storytelling

So – already mind shocked and the cogs whirring we broke down into work shops for further discussions and presentations. Points that I picked up to reflect on were:-

  • How much should we use offline policies as the basis for developing online ones? Whilst I can see that this would be useful I think that it is important to note that young people use and react differently online. Currently they tend to be much more open, will talk, post, and share personal things that they wouldn’t share face to face. Should this therefore be reflected more in online policies?
  • How we include data protection, the use of cookies etc in the policies we develop (still not too clear on this area myself as it is more techy but it was an area I thought needed noting.)
  • The need to ensure that colleagues keep records of their online interactions, just as they would if they had had a telephone conversation, meeting etc with a young person.
  • The need to educate young people around safety and privacy settings. For instance if they are interacting with us online through an SNS and we note that their profile is ‘open’ should we send email messages to let them know and advice on how to change it?
  • To remember the digital divide does exisit and not to suppose all young people know how to use IT and apps that are about.
  • How do young people know they are talking to a bona fide staff member?
  • Making your online space welcoming and youth friendly and maintaining this.
  • The training needs of both staff and young people, including work around personal boundaries, code of conduct , the impact of their digital foot print – thinking about what is behind the profiles and groups, moderations policies etc.

And that was just the morning!!!!! 🙂

Youth Work Online Unconference

For those of you that haven’t yet picked it up or read it on the Youth Work online ning there will be an unconference this year on 11th July. You can find out more about the Connected Generation: 2009 unconference on online engagement here on Tims blog.

It’s free to attend, in the same place in Central London as last years thanks to Steph Grey and DIUS, and registration is now open.

If you work with young people and are interested in developing ways in which you can use social media and online technologies to engage and work with them then this unconference is an ideal opportunity to meet others and discuss how to make this a reality. It’s  an opportunity to explore big ideas, and the practical realities of weaving the web into work with young people so head on over to Tims site and register now!!

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