During the last quarter of 2019, we spent a significant amount of time listening to parents and carers of young people with additional needs – and even more time listening to the young people themselves.
It was really interesting to hear the positive impact connected technology can have for these young people. One Mum told us how, when he is gaming, her teenage autistic son, finally achieved something he has always striven for – to be accepted as normal. On the gaming platform, he’s no longer – Jack with special needs or extra help – he’s just Jack, a teenager who is really good at gaming. In that moment, in that game, on that platform, Jack is free to be, Just Jack.
Of course, other parents had much less positive experiences – mostly to do with getting their young person to understand the importance of turning off devices and doing something else. Another significant concern was around helping these young people, who, by nature were more trusting and less discriminating about what they saw online, understand that not everyone is who they say they are and not everything online can be trusted.
Teachers and carers talked to us about the temptation to turn everything off, to shut everything down, but how that was not the right answer. Not the right answer for the young people, who should be able to enjoy the benefits of connected technology just as much as anyone else.
There’s a need for specific resources to help support young people, their parents and carers, something we’ll be doing much more of in 2020.
See more articles and resources to help children stay safe online.