It seems everyone these days uses some form of social media; from the omnipresent Facebook to the quick witted Twitter there seems to be no escape from it. And the same goes for the negative connotations that seem to inevitably follow. The internet is something to be feared we’re told and parents and schools should clamp down, censor or ban outright the channels that young people are going to communicate through.
And they’re going to communicate in this way, for the meantime at least, whether you like it or not and so i’ve always thought we need to stop being so reactionary and be more constructive.
So when i was asked to present at a conference titled Engaging young people through the internet and social media in educational settings i was more than ready to take on the challenge.
And so last week i was lucky enough to find myself working once again with Katie Bacon and the Online Youth Outreach team. It has been nice recently to step back from my “main” job as that draws to a close and focus more on freelance work and this was a fantastic follow up to my experiences the week before in Lambeth.
We used the hahtag #SMYP2012 and encouraged people to tweet live at the event and afterwards.
On the day we heard from @StephenCarrickD talking about Munch, Poke, Ping and the risks vulnerable young people in Pupil Referral Units (PRU) can face online.
We also had a talk my colleagues @Katie_Bacon and @tashaturb , the latter of whom i actually only met for the first time that day; a common but still curious occurrence when a lot of the work you do is online!
I also found myself sitting on the debate panel fielding questions from the audience which produced some really interesting, quick-fire conversations; in fact i could have happily spent half a day doing just that which is why i was so thankful for the time allocated to just talking to each other, mingling and sharing ideas.
Part of the debate was also spent with me talking about my own personal experience of running online support groups for people with mental health problems for the last nine years. I also mentioned issues such as the right to anonymity online and how many people choose not to disclose their identities online for good and not nefarious reasons.
But my favourite conversation of the night was the one started by @YPFI when they took the stage to talk about the impact of social media on young disabled people. They are a group of young disabled people committed to campaigning to improve equality and equal access and the work they do is fantastic.
Overall an excellent but somewhat exhausting day helping to run a conference from start to finish and not just turning up on the day and speaking! However it was absolutely worth it and i can’t wait to attend similar events and work with Katie again in the future.