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Earlier in the year we worked with Dr Sangeet Bhuller from WISE KIDS as part of our ‘Safer Internet Day 2014’, which consulted children in our care aged 10-17. Below, Sangeet presents the findings from a large scale research study on the Internet and digital media habits and literacies of 13 and 14 year olds in Wales:

Generation 2000: The Internet and Digital Media Habits of Year 9 Pupils (13 and 14 year olds) in Wales, a WISE KIDS Project, co-funded by the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, Logicalis and S4C presented its findings today in Cardiff.  Also in attendance was Julie James, Deputy Skills Minister, and educators from across Wales.

The report gives great insight into what young people are using the internet for, what platforms they use and how they socially interact. 

The research findings shared included:

•  How 13 and 14 year old children are using the Internet and digital technologies in a social and educational context
•  How knowledgeable and skilled they are in keeping safe online
•  The barriers that stop them from participating fully online
•  How digitally skilled and literate they are – i.e., how able they are in using the Internet and digital technologies critically and positively

For us (FCC), it highlighted the real gap in digital education between the teenagers and those who are entrusted with their care.  Do we know what information they are accessing and which social platforms they are using, not just at home and in school?  The negative stories of online use such as cyber bullying, grooming and other safe guarding issues are highlighted to us often.  However, the internet can also be an extremely positive experience and tool, and is vital for social inclusion, acceptance and more importantly their creativity.  As the report highlights ‘how to’ videos are widely used for informal learning.

This “generational gap” is going to be an ongoing training exercise for us all – staff, social workers and foster carers.  Talking to the young people and using the digital expertise of those like WISE KIDS, we hope to narrow the gap.  We look forward to the next phase of their work.

You can read the full report here, it is also available in Welsh on the WISE KIDS website. 
http://wisekids.org.uk/wk/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/EnglishFinal.pdf

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