Claire Levens reflects on the vital work that the UKCIS Working Group on Vulnerable Users is continuing to do amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
In this strange time, the need to protect the most vulnerable people from online risk and harm has never been more acute. That is why I’m delighted that the working group on Vulnerable users is continuing to work at pace to address this issue.
Our working group has created four workstreams and I’m pleased to share that the group is looking at how to support professionals. We know that children and young people are always told to talk to ‘a trusted adult’ if they see anything that concerns them online. We’ve all given out that advice and it seems sensible.
However, what if the trusted adult in your life doesn’t understand why you love a particular app or game or online activity? What if in every conversation you are measuring what you say, only revealing glimpses of yourself because trust is not something you have had a good experience of? What if the person you have to speak to seems to be more interested in filling in your assessment form than really listening to what you want to talk about?
And what if you are that trusted adult faced with a reluctant teenager who is always on their phone and rarely communicates? What happens when the conversation moves from monosyllables into tech speak leaving you lost? What if you just have to get that assessment done because there’s a deadline that you simply can’t miss?
As part of our work to help professionals make better interventions in a young person’s online life, we are conducting a consultation process with children and young people to better understand what are the characteristics of a trusted adult they would like to see. In parallel, we are talking to professionals to understand the support they need to have better conversations.
Through this process, we aim to bridge the gap between professionals asking for training and young people asking to be treated humanely and listened to.
If you want to get involved, please contact: [email protected]atters.org
See more articles and resources to help children stay safe online.