Just published: Social Media – Youth Participation in Local Democracy

Social-media-youth-particip[Summary: Introductory guide on youth participation with social media now available]

One of the curious things I’ve discovered in seeking to equip practitioners to engage with social technology is that, the more I explore about digital media, the more I end up creating printed resources, or at least, resources based on a book/handbook structure.

That’s the case with a new resource that was published today by the Local Government Information Unit (LGIU) that is the product of learning from the Network Participation action learning set I co-facilitated earlier this year.

Drawing on theory and case studies explored during that action learning set, ‘Social Media – Youth Participation in Local Democracy‘ is designed to step through some of the issues that practitioners need to consider in exploring the use of social networks and social media in youth participation.

It’s available to order from the LGIU Website, and for online purchase via Central Books.

(P.S. If you’re interested in more practical resources to support youth engagement and youth work uses of digital technology – keep your eyes open, as I’m in the midst of working on a new toolkit hopefully ready early in the New Year…)

Youth Work in a Digital Age

Youth Work Now

I was recently asked to write an article for Children and Young People Now on ‘Youth Work in a Digital Age’. The resulting article was published in last weeks issue (15th – 21st October 09) and you can find it on the Children and Young People Now  website here.

I’m grateful to C&YPN Editor Andy Hillier for his patience with my tendency to overshoot all word limits in a first draft, and for helping to turn my original drafts into a practical piece for a print magazine.

But, with the luxury of a blog, where running to 1967 words, rather than the allotted 1500 for a spread in C&YPN, I though I would take the liberty of posting here an earlier draft, which takes a bit more a theoretical look at the question of Youth Work in a Digital Age. All comments and feedback welcome…

Youth Work in a Digital Age (v 0.1)

Where can you always find a group of young people hanging out together; chatting about everyday life and about issues that matter; planning an upcoming adventure; reflecting upon all the activities they have recently been involved in; sharing jokes; flirting with one another; having heart-to-heart discussions with their peers; and generally being young people? Ten years ago ‘the youth club’, or ‘the street corner’ might have been the answer. Today it’s far more likely to be online – on Bebo.com or MSN Messenger.

Some people have seen this as a threat to youth work as we know it – but if you had been listening in at the ‘Young people and youth work in a digital age’ conference that took place at Glyndwr University last month, you would have been far more likely to hear youth workers talking about the golden opportunities that digital technologies have created for practitioners to promote activities; to engage with young people; and to generally deliver high quality youth work.

With over 80% of young people using one or more social network sites (5 in 6 young people aged 11 – 25 were users of at least one social network site in a April 2009 representative sample study of 1000 young people by nfpSynergy) and young people increasingly turning to the internet for communication, entertainment and information youth work cannot afford to miss the digital boat.

Made for youth work?

Over recent years young people’s use of digital media has shifted from consuming entertainment and information, to creating and sharing content, being in constant communication with peers, and participating in online communities. With the right support from informal educators, digital media offers the tools and platforms for young people to move from ‘consumer’ to ‘creator’.

Working with young people online, where many of the power dynamics between young people and adults are turned on their head, can, as many workers have discovered, create an environment far closer to the youth work ideal of voluntary engagement. Youth worker Katie Bacon, who has been using the web to engage diverse groups from across Devon in decision making explains: “Online young people are often far more honest and up-front with their opinions, and the presence of the ‘block’ button that young people can use to end a conversation puts them far more in control. It can be challenging and disconcerting for workers, but once you get used to it you can see that it’s voluntary engagement in practice.”

And with social network sites very much based around peer-group interaction and relationship building, it is easy to see the potential fit between digital media and core youth work values and practices.

Even so, digital media tools have rarely been created with a ‘youth workers instruction manual’ to accompany them – so the challenge for youth workers is to work out how to understand, adopt and adapt digital media tools for their practice. It can help to think about three forms of ‘youth work in a digital age’: (1) supporting young people to navigate growing up in a digital world; (2) using digital media tools to promote and add value to existing youth work; (3) weaving the digital media tools into youth work activities – and making the most of the technology for youth work goals.

Growing up digital

Just ten years ago, young people may have only been able to be in social contact with their peers for a small part of the day: snatched conversations between lessons at school, on the way home, or meeting up for a few hours in the evening. A couple of hours spent in a youth project may have been a significant part of young people’s social time. Now, many young people live in near constant contact with peers, sharing text messages, photos and videos from phones, computers and consoles. In this world where communication moves faster, both positive and negative experiences can be ‘amplified’ by digital media; and the divide between those with access and skills to be connected, and those without can widen.

Whilst government backed education programmes such as ThinkUKnow.co.uk are doing important work educating professionals and young people about potential dangers of digital media, youth workers have an additional role in equipping young people not only with awareness of the risk, but also with the resolve, resources and resiliency to navigate dangers, whilst still taking advantage of online opportunities.

That might involve giving a peer group the opportunity to reflect upon the sorts of images, photos and videos of themselves and their friends they are sharing online – and to come to an agreement about what to share or what not to. Or it might involve workers being attuned to instances when bullying might be moving onto the web, and being ready to address the underlying bullying. Starting from young people’s experience of digital media, youth workers need to be supporting young people to become digital media literate, and for many workers that will start with developing their own digital media literacy.

Promote what you do

You can support young people to develop skills and literacy for growing up digital without touching any technology yourself, but if you want to reach out and promote youth work activities to young people for whom the internet is the primary information source then it’s time to log-on. Setting up a blog, for example, gives you an instant (and free) publishing platform where you can share news about your project and details of upcoming events – and within weeks details of what you do should be appearing in search engine results, helping young people discover and remind themselves of what you do.

Facebook Pages, or Bebo and MySpace profiles, can provide a powerful free platform for promoting projects and activities to young people – taking the message to the social network spaces where young people are hanging out. When Denise Drake updates the Tower Hamlets Summer University Facebook Page, the update is featured in the news feeds of over 250 people, all of whom have signed up as ‘Fans’ of Summer Uni. If any of those people comment on one of these updates, then their comment (and the original message) could also be shown in the news feeds of their friend networks on Facebook. News of new activities can spread quickly through the network.

Of course, one of the greatest potentials of digital media is the ability to show young people what’s on offer, rather than just telling them in text. With cheap video hosting and online editing tools – sharing videos, photos or recordings to give young people an insight into what happens at your project is easier than ever.

However, if you try promotion without participation you’re likely to be disappointed. As local authority communications expert Simon Wakeman recently explained in an interview on the Plings project blog (http://blogs.plings.net): “It’s two-way communication – having a one-way dialogue just doesn’t work! Social media blends communications and consultation. You can’t start using social media without being prepared to have conversations online.

Weaving digital media in

Digital media can be a big draw to attract young people to take part in a project. But more importantly, ensuring young people have digital skills is key to support both their participation in social life and education now, and in social life, education and work in the future.

For just about any youth work activity there will be digital media tool that can add a new dimension to it: from using online video clips as discussion starters at a youth club, to using blogging to help young people reflect upon and document an international youth exchange. And as Hilary Mason, Senior Manager at West Sussex youth service recently discovered, when using blogging as a way for young people on exchanges to China and India to reflect on their experiences and share news with friends and family back home – there are often unexpected positive impacts of using digital media: “There was a knock-on effect in the local community – with parents and grandparents who would normally not be using a computer reading and commenting on the blogs. The messages of affirmation to young people coming from family back home with written comments saying ‘I love you’ or ‘I miss you’ were very powerful.”

In weaving digital media tools into youth work practice there are often decisions to be made about what is published on the web, and how you manage conversations and communication. In the case of young people blogging from China, West Sussex youth service made sure that there were staff back in the UK to check over blog posts before they went on the web, and to address and issues that came up. “One of the main things that came up was comments from parents – we had to remind them that the blog was public communication.”

Getting started

If you’re not already using digital media in your work, then knowing where to start can be tricky. But, as the Youth Work and Social Neworking report (NYA, 2008) sets out – there are four simple steps to going digital.

1) Survey: find out what’s already going on in your organisation & find out about the digital opportunities young people are interested in. Create a ‘community profile’ of the social media spaces young people are active in (there’s no point being on Facebook if everyone you work with in on Bebo). Check what policies your organisation has on digital media, and check what technology you have available.

2) Strategy: choose how you will engage with digital media. Will you discuss digital media issues with young people but without using the technology directly? Will you use digital media as a promotion tool? In face-to-face settings? Or as a tool for online outreach?

3) Safety: check out the safety issues linked with your choice of digital media. Think about possible safety issues and how to overcome them. Most issues can be overcome with careful thought. You can find an overview of key safety issues to consider in the online Youth Engagement & Social Media guide that I’ve been developing here: http://is.gd/3Orsc

4) Skills: give yourself an hour or two to explore the digital media tools you are planning on using. Try them out – or find a colleague who can teach you how to use them. You don’t need to be an expert – just confident enough to learn as you go along, and to identify the issues that may make for discussion points with young people.

Going further

Finding your own route to engage with digital media in youth work can seem daunting, particularly when there is no set pattern to copy. However, digital media isn’t just about youth work delivery. It can also play a part in youth worker’s professional development and learning – and you will find a growing range of supportive online communities, reflective blogs, and online resources to help you explore youth work in a digital age.

Often, starting to use the tools for your own professional development, whether reading and commenting on blog posts from other youth workers, or participating in a focussed network of youth work practitioners such as YouthWorkOnline.org.uk, you can pick up the skills and experiences you need to apply digital tools in your own practice. Hilary Mason was one of the first youth work bloggers from the statutory sector, and for Hilary being able to explore both digital tools and youth work ideas through maintaining a blog at http://ukyouthblog.wordpress.com/ is key: “As a reflective tool it’s huge, both in spending time writing and thinking about what you are going to say.”

The digital world is here. And it’s moving forward at a phenomenal pace. Youth work has some catching up to do – but it also has a key opportunity and offer to make – and hopefully soon we’ll be seeing all youth work as work engaged with the digital age.

One Interesting Thing about Five Interesting Things

(and a bonus reflection on the network society)

If you write a title of the form ‘Five interesting things about X’ at the top of a page or blog post, where X is an event, a workshop you’ve run, or a paper you’ve just read, chances are you can fairly quickly distil a page or post full of, well, five interesting things..

And chances are that other people will find it useful.

If you ask me, that’s fairly interesting. And it’s got interesting implications.

I’ve just spent three days with various academics, managers and practitioners from the world of human services (which included quite a few folk with experience of youth work) where we’ve been exploring the rise of the ‘Network Society‘ (if the term is not familiar, at least look at the Wikipedia page) and it’s impact on the whole field of human services.

We encountered a lot of challenges: Many of the practitioners and managers can perceive the need think about and adapt to the network society – but they struggle to find the time to engage with both the literature on the network society and the practice dilemmas and tensions that need to be resolved in responding to the rise of a digitally connected world. Many of the academics are doing in depth research and writing great articles (sometimes about the fact practitioners are ever more time pressured) – but are struggling to get that research to influence practice. And both academics and practitioners alike with teaching responsibilities were talking about the challenges of using old lecture & essay based formats of education to equip a new generation of youth workers, social workers and probation officers.

Talking about “Five interesting things” may not offer a resolution to all those challenges, but over lunch today we explored how it might have something to offer. What if:

  • Tutors encouraged students to read recent research and summarise the ‘Five Interesting Things’ from key articles.
  • We combined the lists of ‘interesting things’ produced by different students through an online tool like IdeaScale and encouraged students and practitioners to vote up and down the most and least significant ‘interesting things.
  • We took the top five ‘most interesting things’ and used them as abstracts alongside all the articles being input into big knowledge management systems for practitioners.

A new teaching approach. Turning research into practical nuggets of information & knowledge. And helping practitioners engage with contemporary learning about major social shifts and developments.


(BTW: Do check out the Connected Practice Ning if the idea of ‘human services in the network society’ is one that resonates with you)

Beyond Twitter: Young people and youth work in a digital age

Picture 10Just a quick post to let you know about ‘Beyond Twitter: Young people and  youth work in a digital age – a conference and open space event I’ve been involved in planning with Simon Stewart for 24th September 2009 focussed very specifically on youth work. I’ll be speaking and facilitating some of the open space process, fresh from spending a few days at this symposium on ‘human services in the network society‘ – so very much looking forward to how we can make this conference the next step in build capacity and conversations around the future of digitally aware youth work.

Here’s how Simon has described the 24th September event:

Thursday 24 September 2009, 10.00am–4.00pm

Catrin Finch Centre, Glynd?r University, Wrexham

Technology today is creating one of the greatest transformations ever seen in humankind. Technological turning points of the past came about progressively. People and social systems had time to adapt. This time around rapid innovations are coming upon us suddenly. This digital explosion has opened up a plethora of opportunities and challenges for society.

Professional youth work and emerging children’s and young people’s services have not been left untouched, but what are we doing to ensure that our work remains current in a technological age? From social media to digital exclusion, youth workers are faced with ever more complex and challenging situations that they are required to respond to.

This conference and open space event is the beginning of an extended conversation reflecting on how youth and community work practice can respond to the digital transformation of society

It’s great value at just £25 for youth workers, and £10 subsidised rate for students. So if you’re in youth work – it would be great to see you there…

Booking details and online booking on the Glyndwr University Website here.

Saying YES to social media

Youth Engagement and Social MediaAs my return to study with a year long full-time MSc comes closer, I’ve been trying to write up and share a lot of my learning from the last 18 months of researching and working with organisations using social media in youth engagement.

What started as a small wiki with a new notes on has quickly evolved into the outline of an online guide to youth engagement through social media – and so, before any perfectionist tendencies take over, and the diminishing returns of time spent knocking off the rough edges kick in any further, here’s a link to the in-progress-but-by-now-hopefully-at-least-a-bit-useful YES – Youth Engagement and Social media Guide.

It’s got sections on the What, Why and How of planning youth engagement and participation using social media – covering issues of strategy, safety and touching upon evaluation. The toolkit of HowTo’s and Case Studies in using different social media tools has a long way to go – but if you want to know about Listening Dashboards and Search Alerts then hopefully it already provides a good overview.

Also contained in the guide you will find a copy of a document I wrote a while back, but have failed to properly share – called ‘Safe and Effective Egagement with Social Network Sites for Youth Professionals (PDF)’ and which I hope provides a useful (and relatively brief) overview of the things to think about if you’re planning to use social networking as part of your youth engagement work.


(The observant will notice that the Youth Engagement and Social Media Guide is yet another Dokuwiki install, a tool I’m becoming a big fan of since using it for a personal notepad wiki, and then the Interactive Charter/Social Strategy site. It may not have the WYSIWYG editing power of Wikispaces, but for flexibility and ease of deploying on one’s own server it’s fantastic. It’s also behind another site I recently set live for the DFID Civil Society Organisations Youth Working Group)

Connected Generation 09

I had a great day at the Connected Geneartion 09 unConference yesterday. Thank you again to everyone who helped out, turned up, and contributed to making it happen.

I’ll try and write some reflections soon, but for now, just a quick link to let you know that notes, tweets and shared learning will be aggregated at http://www.connectedgeneration.info

Your professional approach to social networking should be based on your professional context and values

“How should professionals or volunteers working with young people use Facebook?”

There is no answer to that question. Or at least, no answer that doesn’t start with a fairly long list of ‘It depends’.

I often show this slide when talking about the need for clear policies in organisations that support staff to make effective use of social media:
Slide on Safe and Sound Foundations

The slide was prepared (and I always introduce it in this context) based on work exploring how Social Network Sites can be used by Youth Workers.

Almost always I get an interjection at this point in the presentation from a teacher or other youth-sector professional criticising the way this guidance suggests that workers may be interacting directly with young people online, when surely that can never be appropriate.

To which I have to re-emphasise that this guidance is specific to a youth work setting. It’s based on youth work values and, fundamentally, on an attempt to understand how different youth work relationships between young people and adults transfer into the online environment.

It is perhaps because of the centrality of ‘relationship’ in youth work theory that drives me towards stating this, but it seems far more useful to switch from the question ‘How should [teachers/youth workers/probation workers/sports coaches] use Facebook?’ to the question ‘Given the existing professional relationships between young people and their [teachers/youth workers/probation workers/etc.] offline, what would be appropriate for their interaction through [Facebook/Bebo/MySpace/any other social network]?’

Ewan McIntosh has been exploring again recently
his belief that direct interaction by teachers with children and young people through Facebook or other social networks is not appropriate, and my intuitive sense of the teacher-pupil relationship suggests that Ewan is right. When it comes to a youth participation worker exploring social networks for engagement, then using Facebook might be appropriate, but a direct friend-relationship with young people may not be. Use of Facebook pages and groups may provide a means of engagement more analogous to offline participation relationships.

With a number of authorities and organisations development organisation-wide social media policies, emphasising the specificity of different workforces is more important than ever.

We need to always start from the specifics. From what a particular form of work involves, from the professional values involved, and from the relationships with young people (or others) before developing guidance, policy and practice. Rather than imposing top-down technology policy and strategy.

EU Kids Online – E-safety? Just get on with it! (And don’t forget opportunity)

[Summary: Notes and reflections from the launch conference of EU Kids Online research]

“Can we just get on with it”. Less talking and more action on child internet safety was the pretty clear message from Tanya Byron responding to the research recommendations at the launch of the EU Kids Online research today. But Tanya also made clear that the action should not be reactive, moral panic driven responses to internet use by young people – making the bold (but essential) statement that “We cannot and must-not build an environment for children to develop within which is built around what we see through the eyes of the most vulnerable child”.

There has been a lot of talk in sessions and coffee breaks today about the need for a more naunced approach to the often moral-panic driven debates about risk – not least with a great input from Janis Wolak reflecting on the different discourses that researchers are intentionally, or unintentionally constructing around the internet and young people. Crucially Janis highlighted the difference between the claim that

(a) The internet has risks

and the claim that:

(b) The internet promotes risks

The discourse often shifts from (a) to (b). But it’s hard to find research which backs this up. Janis encouraged us to consider whether the working hypothesis that appears to underly much work that “the internet amplifies risks” should have a priviledged place over alternative hypothesis such as “the internet can act as a buffer to young people experiencing harms”.

There have been many other insights shared today, most of which I’ve not managed to capture whilst taking notes, so I’ll mainly give a nod to the abstracts and papers from the conference available here – and share just one or two ideas or bits of intformation shared during sessions that I found particularly interesting…

  • In presenting recommendations from the EU Kids Online research, Sonia Livingstone made an interesting contribution to the media literacy debate – arguing that it’s important to keep ‘promoting safety’ as distinct from ‘media literacy building’.

    As I understood the point, Sonia suggested that media literacy programmes often arise because of a recognition that new technology is complex, tricky to regulate, and hard to legislate for when it is international and operating across borders. The new technologies create place new burdens on users to manage their own safety – and media literacy efforts similary ‘outsource’ safety to users.  Some users may not want to, or may not be able to, deal with these new burdens – and hence promoting safety as well as literacy becomes key.

  • Shirley Atkinson has explored how peer-education can play a role in e-safety education in schools in Plymouth and the South-West, with lots of lessons and learning that informal educators could draw upon.
  • The  Youth Protection Roundtable have been doing fascinating work to explore the need for systems that are ‘safer by design’ – and have a toolkit (that I’ve yet to read in depth I’ll admit) with an overview of techncal and process work on online youth protection.

And I thought it may be helpful to add links to few resources and other blog posts I’ve been working on which overlap with some of the focus in the EU Kids Online project:

And also – the Youth Work Online Network, Connected Generation unConference on the 11th July 2009, and the Network Particatipation space are all spaces of ongoing dialogue about positive work with young people online – which builds on safe-and-sound foundations.

Connected Generation: 2009 unConference on online youth engagement

The social media game

[Summary: Registration open for the 2009 unConference on youth engagement in a digital age]

Some point just after the first BarCampUKGovWeb back in 2008 I floated the idea of a BarCamp, or an unConference to explore the ways in which organisations whose work involved young people could make the most of social media and new digital technologies. After a few false starts, that turned into UK Youth Online* – a gathering of over 60 fantastic folk one Saturday at the offices of DIUS in London where we had explored all sorts of elements of online youth engagement: tools and technologies; issues of safety; participation online; implications for youth workers; the social media game; and loads more. That event led to the growth of the Youth Work Online ning network, currently fairly quiet, but helping to carry on the conversations from our face-to-face event.

Since the 2008 unConference I’ve met a whole load of fantastic people working to explore and use social technologies in youth work, youth participation and outreach work with young people. From software developers and central government policy makers, to local authority web teams and front-line youth workers – and of course, many young people themselves – as volunteers, activists and innovators. However, in all these meetings, I’ve not come across a forum that brings together practitioners, social entrepreneurs, developments, policy makers and young people to get stuck into sharing their learning and building the sorts of informal and formal networks that will drive forward greater and more effective uptake of social technologies to make a difference in the lives of young people.

Summing upSo – I though it might be time for another unConference. And this is the rather roundabout way of announcing: Connected Generation 2009 – unConference – exploring youth engagement in a digital age.

It’s taking place on the 11th July, 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.

So, erm, get registered if you can join us, and spread the word!

More details below…


If your work involves young people, then understanding and engaging with social media and online technologies is a must. This event is an opportunity to explore big ideas, and practical realities of weaving the web into work with young people.

As an unConference, the exact programme is created on the day by the participants, who will convene conversations, provide demonstrates and share their insights. However, themes that are likely to be explored include:

  • Communicating with young people online – from promoting youth services and positive activities, through to hosting two-way dialogues with young people in online spaces.
  • Social networks & youth participation – how can Facebook, Bebo, MySpace and Ning be part of the participation workers toolbox? And how does social networking have the power to change the face of participation?
  • Digital inclusion for young people – making sure that all young people have the access to technology and the skills they need to get on in the digital age;
  • Practical action – how to make sure online engagement is based on safe-and-sound foundations; getting policies in place; and making sure the technology and staff skills are available to make the most of online engagement;
  • Hands-on learning – exploring different social media tools that you can use in your work, and sharing tips with other participants about the best way to use them;

Bring your own sessions!

An unConference is created by the participants – and it works best when everyone comes prepared to offer a session. Your session could be a short presentation of a project you have recently worked on using digital media for youth engagement; or it could be a topic for discussion; or an issue you want to get the insights of others on.

When you register you have the opportunity to suggest a session you may offer.

How the day works
If you’re never been to an unConference before and are wondering what to expect – here is a rough outline of what the day might look like: Planning out the different time-slots for the day

  • 10.00am – Arrive, coffee and introductions
  • 10.30am – Suggesting Sessions – participants will be invited to announce and introduce sessions they would like to run during the conference. These will be assigned to a time-slot and break-out room. There will probably be 6 break out rooms, allowing 30 different sessions to take place during the day.
  • 11.00am – Parallel Session 1 – some of the sessions just announced will take place and you can choose which to take part in.
  • 11.45 – Parallel Sessions 2 – more sessions taking place
  • 12.30 – Lunch
  • 13.15 – Parallel Sessions 3 – more sessions taking place
  • 14.00 – Parallel Sessions 4 – more sessions taking place
  • 14.45 – Break and review – A change to check if any new ideas for sessions have arisen throughout the day so far, and to plan in a few extras
  • 15.00 – Final sessions
  • 15.45 – Wrap and close

You will get to take part in at least five sessions on key topics in youth engagement and new technology. If you find a topic you want to discuss is not being covered, you have to opportunity to suggest a new session to explore it – and the facilitators will do their best to make your new session idea take place.

We’ll probably end the day at a local coffee shop or pub for those who can stay in London a bit longer.

Who is behind it?
The 2009 unConference is being organised by Tim Davies as a voluntary project.

The venue has been kindly supplied by DIUS, arrange for by Steph Grey.

Other volunteers will be involved on the day. Check http://www.connectedgeneration.info for more details.

Sponsorship welcome
We welcome sponsorship to help us cover the costs of the event. Sponsors have the opportunity to display materials at the event and to place items in the conference bag – as well as to feel good about making a great event take place!

Any questions?

If you’ve got any questions then drop a line to tim@practicalparticipation.co.uk
or give me a call on 07824 856 303

*Note: The 2008 event was not associated in any way with the charity UK Youth, and at their request we are not longer using the ‘UK Youth Online’ title for future events.

Online Citizenship for young people – e-safety project ideas

[Summary: Ideas for online citizenship, digital youth work and e-safety programmes]

Project proposals
Project proposals

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of working with Jonathan and Jackie from the E-Safety Sub-Group of Brent Local Safeguarding Children Board to develop ideas for a range of projects and programmes that could be run in the Borough to promote positive online citizenship amongst young people.

Brent LSCB have long been leaders in the drive to encourage every local authority to have an e-safety group within their Local Safeguarding Children Boards – and in encouraging organisations working with young people to have e-safety co-ordinators. Refreshingly their focus has not just been on a narrow definition of e-safety and safeguarding – but they have pro-actively recognised the importance of supporting young people to thrive online and be active online citizens as a means to promote online safety. And they have been very kind in letting me share the project and strategy ideas we developed.

So – here is Citizenship for Young People: promoting e-safety through promoting opportunity – proposals for positive project as a PDF download.

The document sets out a small portfolio of projects – some specific to the work in Brent – but, along with the critical questions I shared from this document previously, hopefully also provides a few general purpose projects that others working on e-safety might find useful. In particular:

  • The Content Creators (PDF) project proposal sets out a process for encouraging young people to consider online safety through creating digital media in their local areas. In particular, it works alongside the Critical Questions framework in the main document to suggest a series of stages of planning and working on online content with young people that provides opportunities to consider and reflect upon key online safety issues.

    Draft structure for the Content Creators programme
    Structure for the Content Creators programme
  • The proposal for Skill Swap sessions (PDF) suggests ways of getting young people to teach each other about online tools and technologies – and suggests using this as an opportunity to add in some e-safety messages. Underlying a skill-swap model, where young people are encouraged to teach each other about managing their online identities and keeping safe is a belief in building young people’s resiliency, rather than putting up barriers to protect young people; and a thesis that, given the right opportunities for reflection and discussion, young people are able to identify relatively unprompted, many of the steps they may need to take to be safe online.

    Both Content Creators and Skill Swap sessions have possible use in digital mentor style programmes with young people.

  • The Connection Hubs proposal (PDF) has a slightly different focus – on online outreach and taking content to where young people are. It outlines a possible strategy for having a core project presence online, and then ‘hubs’ out in different social media and social networking spaces to be able to engage with the online communities of young people in those spaces. It also fits with the idea of having a content strategy rather than a web strategy.

All the above are under a Creative Commons licence, and are very much initial ideas and sketches of possible projects. Brent LSCB have only been able to take a few of them forward at the moment, but hopefully in allowing them to be shared there may also be some value in here for other organisations exploring e-safety.

And of course – your feedback, reflections and comments (and edits even – let me know if you would like to Open Office/Word originals to work on) to help improve these would be most welcome.