How social media can make life better for young people in care
According to a recent study which was carried out in England more than 100 observations in four homes over a period of seven months was taken place to show how 10 young people aged 14 – 17 years old used their phones, laptops and social media apps as part of their daily routines.
A sense of belonging
The results showed that most commonly young people used their devices and social media apps to connect with friends and family. Some of the most popular apps that young people currently use are Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram. As well as other apps such as YouTube, WhatsApp and Musically. Young people are using some of these social media sites to keep up to date, connect online with friends and family and their everyday life activities. This showed to provide them with a sense of belonging and feeling connected. It is important for children and young people in care to communicate with their carers and/or social workers if they have any problems or queries that they may be facing online. But it is also just as important for them to connect with people outside the care environment. This can help young people to feel less isolated and alone.
In addition to this, social media gives the opportunity for people to look back on parts of their life and hold memories and pictures. This can be beneficial for a young person in care as they can create a virtual life story book and document their time spent with you, something for them to look back on and a place to share their memories with friends and family.
Being a part of an online community helps young people to feel a part of something, where they can feel supported and share their feelings. It can also help young people to gain opportunities and progress.
For young people, managing their online accounts is becoming an important part of helping them into adulthood. Having online accounts and being accountable for their own actions online is teaching young people to become more independent and responsible, skills which they will use later on in adulthood life.
Keeping Safe Online
Although social media comes with some risks, as long as young people are aware on how to keep themselves safe online, such as changing their privacy settings to private. Or, where to locate and how and when to use the ‘panic button’. It could open up a world of opportunities for them.
Social media and using different online apps and websites are more popular than ever, children and young people are becoming more aware about social media, apps and websites from a much younger age then before. So it is important that children and young people receive support when being online from friends, family, social workers and foster carers.
For younger children, agree on certain apps and sites which you are happy for them to use. Talk regularly to them about the sites and apps and how to keep themselves safe online. Most apps and website settings allow you to add parent lock so you can ensure that you can keep your child safe online and they will only be able to access safe websites. This can be used until they become more independent and understand more on how to keep themselves safe online and do not need as much online protection.