Staying connected with your youth participation structures is incredibly important during these times, ensuring that children and young people’s voices continue to be heard, taken seriously and acted on.
Offering some form of consistency in the form of continuing with regular meetings may be a welcome connection to ‘normal life’ for many, reassuring children and young people that the platforms they were engaged with are still there. There are numerous digital tools and platform that can help with making this possible.
There are several well-known online video chat platforms that can be used for digital sessions, which have become popular ways of enabling group connectivity during these times. Many platforms are free to use and can host large meetings. Some have additional creative features such as fun backgrounds, emojis and options to share music, sound files, images and documents.
Whilst there are many benefits to using these platforms for group sessions it is important to remember that there are privacy, security and data protection issues with these platforms.
Prior to choosing any of these platforms for participation and engagement work it is important to understand the privacy, security and data protection settings of your chosen platform, and to put adequate safeguarding arrangements in place.
Many young people access social media platforms on a regular basis. These channels could be used to creatively engage with children and young people through
- Live story options
- Group challenges
- Sharing or joining virtual tours as a group.
Consult young people to develop effective and meaningful participation opportunities through the social media platforms that they use.
As with all online platforms, accessing social media also exposes children and young people to risks such as online bullying, exploitation, and abuse. Prior to using social media for any participation and engagement work please ensure that safeguarding measures are in place and that participants know how to keep themselves safe online.
For simplified, child friendly terms and conditions of various social media platforms produced by the Children’s Commissioner click here.
Video chats are not for everyone and it is important to think creatively about different approaches to digital participation and engagement work. There are numerous apps that enable collaborative activities without the use of video chat, such as interactive whiteboard apps and collaborative multimedia apps. These online platforms can be highly engaging for group work and offer a fun and visually stimulating alternative to video platforms and social media. These apps may be particularly good to use for brainstorming and planning sessions and groupwork with younger children or groups with a range of learning styles.
There are many more apps and online platforms that can be used to meaningfully and creatively engage with children and young people. It is important to be mindful about data protection, privacy and security when using any of these apps.