Curating a conference: young people in a digital world

This is a quick blog post to link to the videos and social reporting content from last week’s Young People in a Digital World conferences in Wales which are now available through the newly launched Digital Youth Wales network.

You can find over five hours content, including a fantastic panel discussion with young people from Swansea schools and colleges, insights from e-Moderation and Moshi Monster’s Chief Community & Safety Officer, my interview with Tanya Byron, and some great examples of digital youth work from Swansea. You might even find a clip of me trying to unpack how, through the lens of youth work values, the Internet provides an exciting opportunity space for youth work.

Curating social reporting

As well as the webcast recordings (created by the ever friendly and professional Richard Jolly and Diarmaid Lynch) the event was also comprehensively ‘socially reported’ with live-blogging, video interviews and more being co-ordinated by David Wilcox and Chie Elliott.

All of which, thanks to the kind support of Sangeet from WISE KIDS who organised the conference, gave me a chance to try out further exploration of curating content from social reporting. Building on the IGF09 Drupal+FeedAPI framework, I’ve put together a micro-site within the Digital Youth Wales site which links together a record of live-blogging, with the webcast video, and any informal social reporting videos for each session.

Take a look here to explore the individual sessions – and do let me know your ideas for how this sort of social reporting aggregation could be improved or further developed…

Your insights needed: Click Clever, Click Safe

Cover of Click Clever, Click Safe
Cover of Click Clever, Click Safe

I blogged on Tuesday about Click Clever, Click Safe, the UK Council on Child Internet Safety’s strategy, and my belief that it misses the opportunity to frame a positive, and rights-based debate around supporting children and young people to navigate online risks.

However, in fairness to the drafters, the UK Council on Child Internet Safety is a large body of over 140 individual and organizational members – and invariably any attempt to put together a progressive strategy in that environment is tricky. Advocates of informal education & children’s rights; and practitioners who have developed positive approaches to online safety are under-represented in the Council’s Membership, and so there is a clear need to make sure that voices and views on the strategy from research, practice and, crucially, children and young people themselves, have a space to be heard.

To that end, I’ve put a copy of the strategy up on Write to Reply, a fantastic service run by @josswinn and@psychemedia to allow paragraph-by-paragraph comments to be added to public documents.

You can read through and add your insights and comments to the strategy here. If you are involved in supporting children or young people who use the Internet, or you are involved in supporting them to navigate online risks, then I really encourage you to take a few moments to look at where your insights and experiences could form a comment on the strategy.

I am committed to making sure comments get fed back to UKCCIS, and will be encouraging members of the Council to take a look at the shared insights also.


In other Child Safety linked news – the Berkman Centre for Internet & Society have a call out for “Descriptions of Projects and Interventions that Address Risky Youth Behaviours and Online Safety” and it would be great to see them receive brief summaries from UK & European Practitioners who have been exploring positive approaches to supporting young people online.

Click Clever, Click Safe: What happened to resilience?

The government has just launched it’s Child Internet Strategy Strategy – created by the UK Council on Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) – and it’s not good.

Whilst there is talk in the document of resiliency, the text demonstrates no understanding of how resiliency is developed, and the actions in the strategy are based in a deficit risk-focussed model.

I wrote about the UKCCIS when it launched, and the message of that post – informal education is key, not big public information campaigns – still holds.

I’m just working on trying to get a copy of the strategy up on the Write to Reply site I’ve uploaded a copy of the strategy to the Write to Reply website – to allow it to be scrutinized in more depth (I’ll update this post once that is done) – but I would welcome any reflections from anyone who was at the strategy launch – or who has taken a look at the strategy. Is there space in the strategy for actions that develop young people’s digital literacy – or it a profoundly problematic and mistaken document?

Right now the I’m left feeling the right response is to say:

Supporting young people to navigate online risks, and ensuring that young people are not coming to harm through their online experiences, is undoubtledy important. But the current UK Child Internet Safety Strategy has a long way to go before it’s a positive, constructive contribution to that.

UKCCIS: The right responses are about informal education

BBC News Report on the UKCCIS Launch

Today saw the launch of the UK Council on Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) – making the launch of the Youth Work and Social Networking Final Report even more timely.

The BBC Article about the Council, set up to implement a recommendation from the Byron review, describes it’s work as:

to teach children about web dangers, target harmful net content and establish a code of conduct for sites featuring material uploaded by users.

Whilst the launch of the UKCCIS as a hub for action is a step forward – the big challenge ahead of it is to recognise the value of informal education and youth work approaches in contributing to the safety of young people online, and to adopt different approaches to promoting the safety of children and of young people.

Understanding informal education:
At the launch of the UKCCIS Gordon Brown said:

“The challenge for us is to make sure young people can use the internet safely and do so with the minimum of restrictions but the maximum of opportunities

But just as we would not allow them to go out unsupervised in playgrounds or in youth clubs or in swimming pools, so we must put in place the measures we need to keep our children safe online” (Source BBC News)

It’s crucial to remember however, that our responses to risks from playgrounds, youth clubs or swimming pools do not rely on education campaigns and the safe design of the spaces alone – but also from the skills of professionals who can support young people and who can respond to their needs and issues at the times the needs arise.

Our work on the Youth Work and Social Networking report suggests that investing in the skills of the staff who support young people in informal education contexts has a significant amount to offer in equipping young people to navigate the risks of the web, and to make the most of the opportunities that exist.

Our broad thesis is that whilst awareness campaigns provide the foundation for behaviour change – it is the supportive interventions and opportunities to explore risk issues and sensible peer norms within friendship groups and with responsible adults which can contribute most to increasing young people’s resources and resiliency in the online environment.

Children AND young people
It’s also crucial that the UKCCIS recognises that the issues for the safety of children, and the safety of young people (adolescents) are distinct and require different responses and approaches.

Negotiated not imposed
One of the most interesting part of the Youth Work and Social Networking research was the consultation day we held with young people in Devon over how they wanted safety policies to work.

It’s key for UKCCIS to find the right participation methods to ensure that codes of conduct for websites with user generated content are designed with the impartial input of young people – and that solutions are negotiated with the young users of sites and not imposed by industry.

Where next:
UKCCIS don’t have a web presence yet – but over the coming months it will be key for informal educational professionals to demonstrate how they can support young people to navigate risk. As Josie Fraser notes, UKCCIS still falls short of a coherent digital strategy for the UK – promoting digital media literacy across formal and informal education settings – but it can offer us an opportunity space to move forward with the important work of ensuring that young people are equipped to get the most of emerging and everyday digital technologies

Update: DowningStreet have just put up a video of the launch.