A new course for youth leaders who want to learn about how social media can be used positively.
As a youth leader, you may feel the responsibility for helping keep the children that you work with stay safe online, but also want to know how they - and you - can use it to its full advantage. In this day course, developed from Raising Children in a Digital Age (Lion Hudson, 2014), internet scare stories and distorted statistics are put into context, and clear and sensible guidelines are offered. You’ll have the opportunity to discuss your hopes, fears and experiences with others in a similar situation, and study examples of how others have used social media successfully with youth. We’ll discuss understanding privacy, permanency, identity, values and relationships in a digital age (including cyber-bullying)
Social Media for Youth Leaders, May 2014, for @c_of_e
Social Media Training for
Dr Bex Lewis, Digital Fingerprint
13 May 2014 for: http://www.churchcommstraining.org
Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0
The CHILDWISE “Digital Lives” Report asked children to go back in time
and explain to Victorian children what the internet was.
Many of the oldest tried to explain how the internet works, but others,
and especially the younger children, focused on what the internet
enables them to do – a place to communicate, to find things out, to play
games, to create and have fun. Several referred explicitly to the all-
encompassing nature of what is on offer to them via the internet. (My
Raising Children in a Digital Age, p64
• On social networking sites such as Facebook, Bebo etc, it’s okay to put
your address and telephone number on your profile page.
• There is no harm in putting the name of the school you attend on your
social networking profile page.
• It’s easy to forget the Internet is a public space.
• Once photos have been posted on the Internet they can’t be removed.
• If you have been chatting to someone who knows someone who knows
someone who knows someone you know, does this make them your
friend? Should you be chatting to them online?
• People with bad intensions use the Internet to make friends with
• If you were on the street chatting to someone you liked the look of but
didn’t know, would you give them your mobile number?
• When using social media sites you would only write things on your wall or
post pictures that you would be happy for your parents to see.
• It’s illegal to send indecent pictures of yourself or anyone else.
• When chatting to people on Internet or through games consoles, you can
tell if they are telling the truth.
• Facebook has appeared in the press several times as its
privacy settings are by default quite open, and can be
hard to find and change. Many people believe young
people don’t care about privacy, but research has
demonstrated that they do and are largely confident about
managing their privacy settings, with less than 1 per cent
describing the process on Facebook as “very difficult”.
Some also feel that online spaces offer more safety,
privacy, and control than offline ones (especially if they
share a room), with one girl (fourteen to fifteen) saying,
“The real world’s not that safe, is it?”
• Raising Children in a Digital Age, p89
• EXERCISE: Try a Google search of your child’s name,
and its variations (consider doing this with your
child). Check variations of your name; for example, I
would look for “Rebecca Lewis” as well as “Bex
• Encourage your child to think about what their profile
would look like if an alien landed and just had their
social media to read.
• List the types of information they are sharing, the
issues associated with sharing, and the appropriate
actions that should be taken to avoid problems
Raising Children in a Digital Age, p98
EXERCISE: Bearing in mind that we are looking for
values that work offline as well as online, have a
discussion and get your child to draw up a list of the top
ten values that they want to demonstrate online (e.g.
honesty, friendliness, etc.). If they are keen, consider a
list of behaviour to avoid as well, and the consequences
of engaging in those negative practices.
Raising Children in a Digital Age, p41
Just because you can …
doesn’t mean you should!
If you are Hungry, Angry,
Lonely or Tired, step away
from the keyboard/keypad
and deal with that issue first.
One noticeable difference in the digital era, especially as
the social platforms have stabilized, is that it’s difficult to
leave anyone behind, which can be delicate to negotiate:
Generally, it is socially unacceptable to delete a Friend
one knows. When this is done, it is primarily after a fight
or breakup. In these situations, the act of deletion is
spiteful and intentionally designed to hurt the other
Raising Children in a Digital Age, p.106
Signs specific to cyber-bullying?
•Long hours on the computer
•Secretive Internet use
•Refusing to log on or answer phone
•Extreme possessiveness of phone, to
which constant nervous looks are
• No shame: not their fault
• Don’t threaten their online access
• Spend extra time together: time
• Nurture self-confidence
• Don’t respond
• Keep copies of messages as ‘proof’
• Understand how to ‘block’ accounts
• Talk to child re contacting school
• Think hard before talking to parents of bully
• Request webhost to remove
• Get phone number blocked
The bully doesn’t see the
distress that they cause, feels
safe from capture, and
protected by the technology,
able to say things that they
would never say offline.
ITV, February 2005
•One in five think sending a message in
cyberspace is less damaging than
face to face insults
•Half the teenagers polled believe it is
ok to say things online that you would
not in person
•A third of youths say they troll because
their friends do so too.
• Remove their Internet and mobile privileges (for a
• Get them to write an essay on the dangers of
• Assign him/her a book to read about cyberbullying
• Assign him/her to community service or other time-
• Encourage them to apologise and take
Some useful sites for those needing help
• http://www.papyrus-uk.org (preventing young suicide)
• http://www.thetrevorproject.org (suicide prevention for LGBTQ
• http://www.childline.org.uk/ (confidential helpline for those
• http://www.beatbullying.org (advice about cyberbullying, and
opportunities to report your own situation, or someone else’s)
• http://twloha.com/vision (US based site for those struggling
with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicidal thoughts)
• http://www.athinline.org (MTV site for those suffering digital
• http://www.itgetsbetter.org (for those suffering LGBT abuse)
Ferguson, a professor from Texas A&M
who researches technologies’ effects
on human behaviour:
“Youth today are the least
aggressive, most civically
involved, and mentally well in
several generations .”
‘Imagining the Internet: Millennials will benefit and suffer due to their hyperconnected lives’, Pew Research Center,
• EXERCISE: Take time to talk to your child
about hopes and fears for online friendships.
Establish ground rules for meeting up with a
new “friend”, including meeting in a public
place, being with friends, having a back-up
plan, and agreeing not to be left alone with
• Raising Children in a Digital Age, p125
• No surprise, then, that
Facebook is no longer a
place for uninhibited
status updates about
pub antics, but an
communication tool that
younger people maintain
because everyone else
• All the fun stuff is
On their mobiles.
The media have focused heavily on the “dangers of
porn” online for children, to the extent that many parents
feel they are powerless to stop it. Professor Livingstone
adds that debate in this area can be difficult, as the
media tend to mix up a range of complex issues into one
big scare story. The EU Kids Online survey
demonstrated that only 6,000 of the 25,000 children
surveyed had encountered even a single sexual image
online; still a high number but not every child, in contrast
to the media impression.
Raising Children in a Digital Age, p144
We need to have more to
say than ‘porn is bad’
• ‘Rite of Passage’? = No
• ‘Being a Man’? = No
• Girls see as harmless? = ?
• Education? = Best
• In churches, if waiting til
marriage = not ‘doing’!
• EXERCISE: Identify stories about
grooming from the press, and get
children to discuss how they might have
behaved differently, and to think about
possible conclusions “if” different
choices had been made.
• Raising Children in a Digital Age, p152
The core signs of addiction
• The activity becomes the most important thing in a person’s
• Moods change in accordance with the activity.
• Continually higher doses of an activity are required to achieve
the original sensations.
• Withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety and depression are
experienced when the activity is stopped.
• Increasing conflict occurs with those in the closest social circle.
• There is a tendency to return to the activity after periods of
• The “sunk cost” fallacy is experienced: not wanting to abandon
something after so much time has been sunk into it.
Raising Children in a Digital Age, p168
Does the digital age offer life
Can social media be positive?
• Wide range of information
• Increased connectivity and collaboration
• Educational benefits
• Global nature of online
• New creative opportunities
• Learning criticality
• Increased accessibility for those with disabilities
• EXERCISE: Go to Wikipedia and search
for something that you know a fair bit
about. What information do you support,
and what would you challenge?
• Raising Children in a Digital Age, p196
Do it for them
Do it with them
Watch while they do it
Let them do it for themselves.
• EXERCISE: Have some fun with your child,
undertaking some “no-limits futurology”.
What do they think life will look like in x
number of years? Think about creating a
“souvenir” book to bring back out at that time
in the future.
• Raising Children in a Digital Age, p213
As a youth leader, it is a very convenient way of
messaging and informing members of our youth
group, and inviting them to events and
[connecting with] each other when we're not
together… Sadly for your child to be the only one
in a group NOT to have access to Facebook can
itself be a matter for isolation - they may not get
invitations to youth events for example, and
ridicule and bullying for being the 'odd one out'.
• The principles applied to this are:
• Be credible. Be accurate, fair, thorough and transparent.
• Be consistent. Encourage constructive criticism and deliberation.
• Be cordial, honest and professional at all times. Be responsive. When
you gain insight, share it where appropriate.
• Be integrated. Wherever possible, align online participation with other
• Be a good representative of the Methodist Church. Remember that
you are an ambassador for Christ, the Church and your part of it.
Disclose your position as a member or officer of the Church, making it
clear when speaking personally.
• LetGalatians 5:22-26 guide your behaviour.
• Be respectful: respect confidentiality. Respect the views of others
even where you disagree.
Methodist Church Guidelines
• Parent’s permission before
• Consent for use of photographs
• Catchall statement for registration
forms – assumes opt-in unless
• Use clear, unambiguous
abbreviations that can be
• Take care with sign-offs
• Leaders/Young People develop agreed
• Line manager // access to social media
• Second leader ‘in the room’
• Save messages/disclosures for use later if
• Be prepared for ‘deeper’ disclosures
• Be clear on how much advice/source
you can give.
• Add a disclaimer on how you might
need to share their information.
• Work-specific device?
• Don’t keep images of young
people on personal devices
• Define curfews