How can digital and social media be used by youth leaders?
How can digital and social media
be used by youth leaders?
Dr Bex Lewis, Director, Digital Fingerprint;
Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing,
Manchester Metropolitan University
Dr Bex Lewis
CC Licence 4.0 non-commercial
Published by Lion Hudson
*Italian (Nov 2015)
http://j.mp/RCIDAge Dr Bex Lewis
“If we want resilient kids we need
to understand what young people’s
experiences are online, listen to
their concerns, and intervene with
their best interests in mind.”
Jane Tallim, Co-Executive Director, MediaSmarts,
Canada, January 2015
Image Credit: RGBStock
Dr Bex Lewis
Dr Bex Lewis
“.. People find it easy and more
comfortable to ask questions about
faith in a private space online…
people on social media are directly
contactable in a way that has not
previously been so easy;
paradoxically there is a distance
offered by the online environment
akin to the screen in the confessional
The Myth of the Digital Native
Image Credit: Flickr
BBC: Be Smart
“We’re doing this because all the research
tells us that children and young people
respond best to their peers. Whether they’re
under pressure to take part in a dangerous
prank, or to victimise someone, or whether
they’re an online bully themselves, stories
told by other young people are most likely to
resonate and to help them cope, or change
Andrew Tomlinson, Executive Producer, Media Literacy, BBC Learning
Dr Bex Lewis
Social Media or Society?
Dr Bex Lewis
“If we don’t like what social
media is presenting us
[with], we should look at
society instead, not just the
tool they communicate
Caroline Criado-Perez, 2013
Who sees this?
Image Credit: Stockfresh
Dr Bex Lewis
Adoption & Fostering
“Users need to be particularly careful about the information
that is shared, whether by themselves, or by their friends, and
all users need to look out for clever tricks, such as ‘viral’
missing person posts, whether for partners, or for children.
Some are a hoax, others are for people in hiding or under
police protection, and others are for children who have been
adopted because of the risk of significant harm. If you are
even thinking of sharing, check with police or Interpol records,
but in any case, notify the police, so that they have the
opportunity to offer safeguarding protection if required.”
Chapman, K. (2015), ‘Be careful about “missing person” posts’, Google+. Retrieved from:
https://plus.google.com/+KimberlyChapman/posts/gn8ZrgGnMXK, and Barefoot Social Work (2015), ‘The Dangers of Social Media for 'Missing'
Children’. Retrieved from: http://barefootsocialwork.weebly.com/blog/the-dangers-of-social-media-for-missing-children
Dr Bex Lewis
Image Source: Stockfresh
See more: http://www.slideshare.net/drbexl/bullying-for-yc14
Increased time spent online will most likely
increase exposure to negative experiences – but
also the positive opportunities. Nancy Willard, a
cyberbullying expert, calls for us to work on the
“understanding that the vast majority of young
people want to make good choices, do not want
to be harmed, and do not want to see their
friends or others harmed”. We can’t control their
whole environment, online or offline, so parents
need to give their children the capability to deal
with problems as they come across them.
Raising Children in a Digital Age, p.63
• Use clear, unambiguous
abbreviations that can be
• Take care with sign-offs
Dr Bex Lewis
•Leaders/Young People develop agreed
•Line manager // access to social media
•Second leader ‘in the room’
•Save messages/disclosures for use later
Dr Bex Lewis
•Be prepared for ‘deeper’
•Be clear on how much
advice/source you can give.
•Add a disclaimer on how you
might need to share their
Dr Bex Lewis
What do others do?
Dr Bex Lewis
What do others do?
Dr Bex Lewis
How can digital and social media be used by youth leaders. 60 mins inc 30-40 min convo as a podcast via Skype. Send ‘big' questions to Luke, can pre-set presentation, and he can match to audio afterwards. Can promo books. Jan 12th-19th will be live
So, thought I’d start by introducing myself… with the most ubiquitous picture of me...
This has been my Twitter pic since 2014. We’re in a world of first impressions … particularly visual first impressions, where people make up there minds within a few seconds... And are looking for points of connection with others (often at a gut level) ...
What do you think this conveys?
“Digitally savvy – has taken a ‘selfie’, has used Instagram – with filter”
“Author – book – but not shoving it in your face too much” (makes me easy to identify)
“Smiley/bright colours – friendly, approachable – fits the tone of the book … let’s be excited and positive about the digital age”
I sent my first email in 1995, built my first website in 1997, joined my first proper social network in 2005, wrote my first blogpost in 2007, and went professionally ‘digital/social’ in 2009. I’ve run my digital consultancy ‘Digital Fingerprint’ since 2001, and have been teaching digital marketing at Man Met since 2015.
So, that book, which is partly what brings me here today, and written partly because in running workshops for those working with the church, was getting more and more questions about what to do with children they were working with … seemed an important area, so read my way through many books/articles
Raising children, not ‘parenting’ because think we all have responsibility – government, companies, parents, voluntary organisations
Am not trying to give parenting advice, but help people understand the digital environment so that people can make informed decisions – and have positive conversations with kids.
Important = can bounce back, etc. seems to have been an increasing number of events about resilience – or maybe I’m just being invited to them… but is also something we’re noticing at university level – kids are struggling with anxiety/depression, etc more than ever before, and needing a lot more reassurance re grades/being told what to do – afraid to make mistakes – don’t blame the kids – blame our culture/society (and can we change things at an earlier stage) …
The book’s done really well, so continuing to read around as seek to identify what are the hotspots of information for any new edition, and it’s definitely a hotspot for media conversations – typically coming from a negative perspective, whilst I’m far more interested in how we can use it well, whilst recognising that it has a particular shape … often use analogy of ‘the brick’! Gets extra interest on ‘Safer Internet Day’ – running every Feb since 2004, so always look out for the material that gets released around then!
Are the fears justified, is it the end of the world? Dan Gardner ‘Risk’ – we’re the healthiest, wealthiest, safest generation in history, but the most terrified… example post 9/11 flights/road accidents… but not ‘newsworthy’ in the same way:
Yes, the media loves a bad news story (because we buy them) = full of disaster, children are addicted to screens, being abducted via Facebook, giving away all their information, sexting, running up bills, becoming couch potatoes, watching porn, meeting strangers and bullying and trolling at every opportunity. I exaggerate, but then so does the news – which (by its nature) is focused on the new/the unusual and has left many people with a feeling that there’s very little that they can do …
Every new technology = moral panics (my experience with TV aged 17 … looked like I was addicted!) … and each seems to be the end of ‘the way we used to do things’ (invented tradition)…. A part of ‘technological determinism’.. (blaming tech rather than behaviour)
There’s a ‘moral panic’ going on here … “Even though in practice, face-to-face communication can, of course, be angry, negligent, resistant, deceitful and inflexible, somehow it remains the ideal against which mediated communication is judged as flawed.” Prof Sonia Livingstone, Children and the Internet: Great Expectations and Challenging Realities. 2009, p26
So, what are the particular characteristics of digital culture? Digital material is both more ephemeral and more permanent than previous communication methods. It can be difficult to remove and it is easy to change, replicate, and share, which makes it difficult to distinguish between originals and their replicas. What the community chooses to highlight may not be what the author intended, and material can be disseminated fast, but this also means that a response can be made more quickly. Users can have a sense of being invisible, which can lead to irresponsible behaviour, but can also provide the anonymity necessary to encourage someone to engage with online support sites. We should remember, however, that, with a little work, anyone can be found and identified. In digital culture people tend to engage with increasing numbers of “friends”: it can be harder to detect possible risk, but those with “unique interests” can find friends more easily online. Even within this believe that we can shape that environment – our choices maybe shaped, at different levels we have different power, but let’s look at the ways we can make the environment a positive space for youth and youth leaders
On some occasions, online is better … Bryony wrote her dissertation whilst undertaking ordination training, and it’s been published this year (should be on the bookstall) – her questionnaire response highlighted than nearly 50% of direct evangelistic responses came via private messaging…. More comfortable in your own home, can walk away, etc. Allows space for vulnerability ...
Social media use by children 12-15, this from latest Ofcom report – released Nov 2016 – can see Facebook is still strong, but dropping off, Instagram, Whatsapp and Snapchat growing, YouTube pretty steady (used even more by younger children for viewing), Twitter never particularly popular and dropping off (see this with uni students), and a mix of other platforms.
Need to remember ‘social media’ refers to a suite of tools, all with different purposes/characteristics, etc. rather than ‘one thing’, so need to understand what each is good for.
Facebook (since 2004) – rather like an address book with everyone in it – can be like sitting in a pub chatting to friends, and other friends might join in
Instagram – heavily reliant upon photographs with beautiful filters, and strong hashtags to theme conversations
Snapchat – person to person (although now can have ‘my story’) – content disappears after 24 hours – liked by those whose every move may have been documented online
YouTube – good for watching others, watching ‘how to’ videos, and also sharing own content (good creative space)
Whatsapp – bit like texts, except free on wifi – group chats/video/photos … note not public
Twitter – good for building a reputation/short content ... Finding people with similar interests
Google + - pfft
Tumblr – students seem to love this so clearly a later boost – scrapbook like blogging
Pinterest – also seems to take off later – can share weddings/house plans, etc.
Vine – 6 seconds videos, now closed...
Doesn’t mention Reddit – news stories voted up … (Ask me anything)
Remember also that can be used by leaders – so e.g. Twitter probably better for this (find the right hashtags e.g. #hashtag and find others who’ve been there before you, or Whatsapp chat groups, etc.) ...
.. And one that can be quite popular – Pinterest … e.g. This search term ‘youth work ideas’ (and childrens work, etc. Even more ideas) – for inspiration (no need to keep re-inventing the wheel!).
Like electricity – don’t need to know inside/out to use it … same with technology these days.. Understand how can apply the use of it – and be prepared to experiment!
FB or Whatsapp groups for those in the group, for leaders, for parents, can all be pretty straightforward to set up… for internal comms, whilst think about what online spaces might be appropriate for those outside who may be interested – e.g. FB page (care with what post on it), blog, etc.
The ‘myth’ of the digital native .. They are not so very different – still human beings – are not beyond our reach, just need some time to understand (avoid technological determinism re ‘the machine forces them (us) to behave in particular ways….
Where do kids turn to for advice, how ensure there are safe spaces for conversation with their friends, their family – rather than random people online… but once see online connections being made, how ensure that they are good ones?
One of the things I’d want to see people making good use of youthwork spaces to open up discussions about what that space is like online, what are the positives, what are the challenges, get people to think about how they can respond (peer pressure, as always = going to be problematic) if know others might be going to respond in that way – can help ... A really good activity = find ‘current’ newspaper stories re digital and discuss them... They, typically, will be quite negative, so ask them to look out for positive things happening online.
One thing that can really help is offering up spaces for children/parents to discuss use of social media – e.g. introduce ‘social media contracts’ that children have had an input into, offer a FB group for the parents to talk to each other…
Back in 2012, this mobile phone ‘contract’ went viral … and demonstrates a good awareness of tech, and of parenting – so far as I can see:
It finishes “You will mess up. I will take away your phone. We will sit down and talk about it. We will start over again. You and I, we are always learning. I am on your team. We are in this together.” … That’s nice, hey?
Other topics – privacy (this is a growing concern amongst adults, but kids typically think it’s worth it for what they get out of it), what about monitoring (the software has become more sophisticated, but should be used IN CONVERSATION).
Note – very interested in who takes responsibility for all this – here we have the BBC, but I think we all have responsibility TOGETHER – schools, parents, researchers, churches – you name it – we can’t just make stuff and not think about how/why it might be used…
One thing I really want people thinking about is the values that they stand for, what really underlies what they are thinking, how do you really know what you stand for?
Importance of not seeing ‘online’ as ‘virtual’ – then people seem to think different rules apply, but it’s a part of our whole lives/society, and should be treated as such… remembering ALWAYS that there is a human being on the other side of the screen (disinhibition)
Within this, want to think how we stand as role models… and encourage everyone to think about what they share... Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should! One friend uses the acronym ‘HALT’ – if you’re Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired, step away from the keyboard/pad and deal with that issue first ... And/or .. Learn how to use the private spaces such as PMs/DMs/Groups, rather than public messaging
Understand the pressures that they are under – FOMO, value of friendship tied to speed of response, the pressure to accept friendship with anyone they already know offline, etc., ubiquity of smartphones, fact that despite age 13 being the ‘appropriate age’ for pretty much every social media platform (US legislation) most younger are on one or more...
Use these kind of statements to discuss?
Think before you post … does this truly represent what you want to say – and are you happy for all these people to see it?
Remember that anything that you write online – even in private messages, etc. are easy to copy & paste – and out of your control once you write them down… quite a good benchmark is thinking of these people who might read it … it may place limitations on what you write – being open and authentic does not mean shove it all out without filters!!
You may still post, but at least you will post with awareness that you may attract kickback, etc..
One final set of vulnerable users I wanted to mention – children who have been fostered/adopted – like to look into this more, but this a group that particularly need to ensure that photos/details are not shared online. These children are already more vulnerable, and often have been rescued from difficult situations – so, as with all children, make good use of privacy settings, think about the kind of content you share (lots of information in the press recently re sharenting, possible legal contestation of what parents have shared) to protect particularly vulnerable users (who can also include:children in the care of the state; children who have experienced prior maltreatment; emotionally immature children with learning or social difficulties and problems with peer friendships; love or attention deprived children; children with strong respect for adult status; children from single parent families; children who will co-operate for a desired reward (such as money, computer games); and, children with low self esteem).
Stanley, J. (2001) ‘Child abuse and the internet’, Australian Institute of Family Studies. Retrieved from: https://aifs.gov.au/cfca/publications/child-abuse-and-internet
Cyberbullying – huge issue – speed, constantly, digital pile-on are core – the 3 roles – bullied, bully, bystander.. (Nancy Willard – is not something kids HAVE to live through…)
Situation of particular concern = (Cyber-bullying)… want to focus on the 3 groups of people involved here..
Bullied – likely to spend excessive time online, or avoid it – maybe interactive nervously, numbers involved vary, but more ‘reliable’ research indicates about 20% affected in some way). Spend extra time with them, develop confidence, don’t remove devices, listen to them, not their fault. // Think about IF/how to respond, keep copies of messages, may be able to block a/cs
The Bully – Disinhibition. Any solutions? Not easy ones, and part of a bigger attitude change – look at advice re bullying in general, but this is where removing access, and encouraging them to understand the harm/take responsibility = key.
The Bystander – the importance of stepping in, rather than standing back … digital allies… the need for ‘digital allies’ prepared to step in …
Often kids don’t understand – especially as online = “disinhibition” = sometimes being exposed to what they’ve done is ‘enough’ – if not, then there’s a bigger problem there, which the digital is just part of … exercise is saying some of that stuff out loud to others can make it “real”...
Some extra sites
‘Stranger Danger’ (incredibly rare) – and as parents increasingly make friends online, again, seems ironic to say to kids ‘don’t’, rather than helping them do so safely..
Latest figures from UK = around 550 abductions recorded by police in 2012/13, less than 1/5 by a stranger, most are by people known to the victim (we get a different impression from the media!) - does mean that youth leaders need to look carefully at responsibility between their team.. so, wanted to look at the specific advice that I collated from youth workers in the field…
*Remember – you wouldn’t leave a child to play alone in the park, would you? Be with them, support them as they learn to stand on their own 2 feet!
e.g. LOL = double meanings
Avoid e.g. “luv” or “xxx”.
In digital communications with youth/children, be aware that they may be prepared to disclose more than they would face-to-face. Ensure that those in your groups understand that you are not qualified to provide counselling (unless you are!), but can give general advice within a personal capacity. Consider adding a disclaimer such as this as to what you may do with their information:
If there is a concern, e.g. that the sender or someone else, particularly a child, may be at risk of serious harm, we may need to share those concerns. In such circumstances we would inform the sender giving details of who would be contacted and what information would be given.
More accountability, protect personal lives… Note that Facebook terms and conditions do not allow users to have more than one profile.
Porn/Sexting = become normalised so, lots of discussion around that – esp the pressure to do ‘what everyone else does’ when content doesn’t disppear
The Law = not a wild west – national/international laws apply
Health = healthy habits (most not really addicted, screentime = what not how much), finding good information online.
How do we ensure that what we share is healthy?
And don’t forget to look out for opportunities such as Pokemon
Don’t expect this is going to solve your enrolment, don’t shove too much ‘evangelism’ in on it, but be welcoming, be inclusive, offer drinks, etc. indicate that the stop is more than a gym/stop, etc.
Only constancy is change … more visual, more audio, higher broadband speeds, more hacker attacks? Look for the opportunities for having conversations, listen to what they are worried about – look out for yourself, but preferably ensure that your central bodies are encouraged to develop clear guidelines (or send them some) – is the associated church approaching church helpfully as well (sermon topics?)