Internet Safety and Young People report published


The question of ‘online’ safety has received widespread coverage in the media, prompting the North East’s Regional Youth Work Unit (RYWU) to look into the benefits of being online and young people’s safety. Liz Robson, Visiting Fellow at CURDS, has recently finished a report to the RYWU to help extend knowledge across the youth sector by looking into safety issues and how youth organisations might utilise these technologies to engage young people more effectively. This work was funded by Newcastle University Business Voucher Scheme and a contribution from SiDE.

Digital technologies are now central to the way in which organisations structure and undertake their activities, whilst at an individual level, a number of benefits have been said to be associated with these technologies. These include learning opportunities, expanding social and professional networks, accessing services more quickly and cheaply, finding others with similar viewpoints, and undertaking creative activities. At a time when Government sees digital technologies as being central to economic performance and social well being, this report synthesises relevant literature with findings from three workshops run by the RYWU-NE, explaining why Internet safety is a particularly pressing issue for the youth sector now and setting out some of main challenges to utilising social media in engagement activities with young people such as ‘actual’ versus ‘perceived risks’ and pervasive issues relating to uneven access.

The report finds that for organisations working with young people, the reshaping of activities around social media requires serious thought in terms of how to interact with different client groups, who will vary in terms of their skills, capacities and knowledge sets. The report elaborates the ‘support system’ of which youth work forms an important part suggesting a pivotal bridging role for the sector. It provides an evidence base from which RYWU and the wider youth work community can draw in respect of policy and practice, when considering questions of safety and security.

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