Digital Speaker

[SPEAKER] Working with young people in a digital age: opportunities and risks with @chelmsdio

Today’s session, for the youth workers of Chelmsford Diocese:

Chelmsford Diocese: Youth Workers from Bex Lewis

[ABSTRACT] Risks, Rights, Responsibility and Resilience Online #DigitalParenting

logoIt’s been a while since I’ve submitted a conference paper – I missed out on the special edition of a journal which seems similar, but here’s an abstract for the IAMCR (International Association for Media and Communication Research) pre-conference on Children’s and Young People’s Rights in the Digital Age, curated by Sonia Livingstone, Amanda Third and Mariya Stoilova

This paper will draw on research undertaken for the 2014 book Raising Children in a Digital Age: Enjoying the Best, Avoiding the Worst, and conversations that have occurred since, particularly with youth work and children’s groups affiliated with the Christian church, and including organisations such as Girlguiding.  The book focused on ‘Raising Children’ rather than ‘Parenting’ in acknowledgement that all have a responsibility to create a safe and positive online environment.


With broad brushstrokes, the paper will consider the risks that parents and youth workers identified, the rights to a safe online environment that is called for, the responsibilities that all – including parents, government, industry, education, and voluntary and faith groups – have to create that safe environment. It will highlight steps that can be taken to increase resilience for children, both online and offline, and highlight that in our ‘digital age’, youth leaders in particular are in a powerful position to improve engagement online.


As the publishers indicate hopes for a new edition of the book in 2018, the paper will share some thoughts as to how children’s changing habits impact on that which youth workers do, and also consider how parent’s habits online impact, and potentially infringe, upon children’s rights, especially in situations of abuse.


See online bio:

It looks like an interesting event, and despite the fact that we work in similar areas, and Prof Sonia Livingstone endorsed my book, I’ve not yet managed to meet her face-to-face, so let’s see! Youth workers, regardless of the outcome, I’d love to hear more of your stories – what material has worked for you, what are the particular challenges you face, how has your offline practice changed with the introduction of the online? What else are key questions that I’ve not thought of?!


“Social Capital and Young People” – Thilo Boeck (pp88-103), in Jason Wood & Jean Hine Work With Young People – 2009 (Sage) #DigitalParenting

images-2Social capital is seen as a social resource that can give access to opportunities in education, the labour market, and can lead to collective efficacy. It is thus often seen as matched to policy concerns. (p88)

This chapter questions whether social networks are a part of this system for social capital? Young people have to be recognized as valid/valued contributors, whilst youth practitioners need to facilitate examples to enhance/nurture opportunities to contribute.

This book sees social capital as a ‘social resource’ – giving access to education opportunities, etc. leading to collective efficacy. Traditionally viewed as part of adult social networks only – but seen here also for children.

There are notions of social capital as the ‘glue’ of society – sees it as a community asset – which has heavily influenced New Labour’s social policy. “Norms of reciprocity and trust among community members seem to focus on the maintenance of the social system, specifically cohesion and social order, and thus aim for integration into mainstream society.” Both have issues if youth do not conform – seeing them as ‘anti-social’ …

Cohesion: “respect for core social values, reciprocal rights of community members and the identification of common goals in spite of religious and cultural differences.” (p96) Can also be used to regulate children into ‘normative’ behaviours in subtle ways.

(p101) – Job of youth professionals to help children work out demoralizing/self-perpetuating limited vision, introspection and ‘victim blaming’ – be aware of structures of society to make them transparent – enable them to see opportunities for change.