Children and Young People's Views on web 2.0 Technologies

Peter Rudd, Matthew Walker

11 June 2010

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The overarching aim of this work was to gather young people’s views about web 2.0 technologies. The project was interested in young people’s personal use of social media, but also in how they might use these tools in a community or local authority (LA) context, for example, to communicate with other young people, organise meetings and events, express their views, or take part in a youth cabinet or similar representative group. The report provides useful information for LA personnel considering using web 2.0 tools and policy personnel considering future forms of communication within children’s services fields.

Overall, there is enormous potential for using web 2.0 technologies to collect the views of young people and therefore involve them in civic duties and local and national democracy. Some LAs have driven this forward through, for example, the use of special council-supported websites (and web editors) enabling young people to discuss and share views on particular topics, and sharing this good practice would be beneficial to all LAs.

Key Findings

  • Web 2.0 technologies were used extensively by the young people featured in the study (all of whom belonged to a youth cabinet or similar group) for personal use, participation in peer discussions and expressing opinions.
  • A small minority did not use these technologies, raising issues about digital inclusion, partly because the technologies required can still be expensive or other barriers to their use. Agencies working to obtain young people’s views may need to take steps to address issues of inclusion.
  • Much of the use of these tools takes place in informal or peer-supported contexts. Therefore, a good proportion of the development of e-skills takes place outside schools, colleges and youth groups. Professionals working with young people could perhaps make more use of the informal development of e-skills.
  • Young people are confident and feel safe when using these tools. ‘Cyber bullying’ and malicious use of texts did exist but were rare, and the young people either knew how to deal with these things themselves, or who they should turn to for advice and support.
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