The difficult choices that we ask our young people to make

Take care what you post

Social media, just how social is it? and how is it changing our lives and that of the communities? It is quite difficult to get a balanced view about the pros and cons, the benefits and the drawbacks, the uses, and abuses. It is an issue that is particularly relevant to community safety and I am hoping that I will be able to identify some of the main issues that affect young people through the recently launched youth survey. There is however so much misinformation out there and anybody can become confused and stressed by opinions and attitudes which we find difficult to evaluate or identify fact from fiction. The clear positives are the communications and the connectedness that the likes of Facebook and twitter can provide for us, social media for example is an important strand to the current work of the Our Place Camelon and Tamfourhill project. The different platforms are extremely effective at getting messages out to the community, highlighting local developments, and involving people directly with current issues. The downside to all this is the potential for bullying and intimidation, spreading nastiness and falsity and undermining positive community activities. Social media is democratic, that is everybody and anybody can contribute to the narrative, however this can open us all up to danger and risk. Have a look at his short film:

How social media can get you into difficulties without really meaning it

You couldn’t imagine that a modern teenagers life could  get any more complicated , but in many respects their lives have become ever more reliant upon  instant gratification with the constant pressures for peer acceptance and once you add in social media, this must become an ongoing stressful experience. Unfortunately for some young people their anxiety levels must go through the roof, their Image, friends and being popular, all accentuated and raised to previously unknown levels through the intense immediacy of social media platforms.  Now I don’t wont to sound over dramatic or cause concern where it is not appropriate , social media is more often than not a good thing , hey rock n Roll had its critics back in the day and I still have my collection of hard core punk vinyl , however young people have always required support and guidance and social media can place an additional burden  on them , their family and the wider community.  The local community safety strategy will be required to have empathy and understanding of these issues, in young people’s terms and as they experience these issues in their language. Local community safety will need to encourage relevant inputs and activities which can reassure parents and family about the welfare of their children when using social media whilst  also  equipping our young people with the confidence and self esteem to make the right decisions in often difficult and contradictory circumstances. I hope that through the youth survey and various focus groups to listen to young people explaining their experiences and concerns about using social media, how might they develop appropriate support, resources and information that would be useful to them and their peers and potentially also their families. I have had recent discussions with Neighbourhood Watch about how they might  make their services and provisions more relevant to young people and how we could better equip young people to deal with the risks that they may face online. This could be a strand of the local community safety strategy where we develop a young people’s scheme which is about them looking out for each other, whether that is online or generally out and about in the community. The key is to empower young people to have responsibility for finding their own solutions to tackle the relevant issues, that way any safety strategy is more likely to be effective. I have indicated in the past the possibility of setting up a Young Community Safety Volunteers Project which would develop and deliver peer education inputs and social media would be one of the key themes that I would like to explore with such a Group.  

Here are some online safety links:

Top tips for 11-19s

Protect your online reputation: use the services provided to manage your digital footprints and ‘think before you post.’ Content posted online can last forever and could be shared publicly by anyone.

Know where to find help: understand how to report to service providers and use blocking and deleting tools. If something happens that upsets you online, it’s never too late to tell someone.

Do not give in to pressure: if you lose your inhibitions you’ve lost control; once you’ve pressed send you can’t take it back.

Respect the law: use reliable services and know how to legally access the music, film and TV you want.

Acknowledge your sources: use trustworthy content and remember to give credit when using others’ work/ideas.

Please encourage all 10-18 year olds to complete the local community safety youth survey, it’s the first step in a wider consultation and listening exercise, it will put young people and their safety at the centre of the local community  strategy. There is a prize of 4 free cinema tickets for the lucky person who has submitted a completed survey.

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