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Understanding your child’s digital world – December 2018

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This month’s blog is all about Childline.  Childline can be accessed via  https://www.childline.org.uk/

A positive and progressive aspect of the digital world is the ability to seek and access support online. Over recent years there has been a growth in both adults and children using online counselling, listening and advice forums. The ability to access this support online has broken down barriers that are present in telephone and face to face sessions, and has tapped into the ease and speed of communicating online, and particularly the comfortability of this for young people.

Childline has existed for over 30 years and its existence has been part of many of our childhoods. I vividly remember their TV advert in 1986 of the girl in the red phone box and this image has stayed with me since, especially the emotions on the girl’s face when the call was answered.  On their launch night in October 1986 over 50,000 calls were made and ChildLine has been available, for children to turn to for support and to have someone to listen to their voice, 24/7 ever since.

Childline has been progressive and focused on reaching out to children and young people, improving access and moving with the changes in the digital age.

Childline partnered with the NSPCC in 2006 and in 2009 launched childline.org.uk, offering help and advice to children online for the first time. The option of an online service saw a 44% increase in counselling sessions, reaching over 270,000 a year in 2011, due to the popularity of online counselling.

In 2012 online counselling overtook phone counselling for the first time, with 59% of all contacts to Childline being online compared to 41% on the phone, and today almost 73% of all counselling sessions are online.

In 2016 Childline launched a new mobile friendly website, making this more accessible to children and young people via smartphones and mobile devices.

An NSPCC spokesperson said: “Childline is unique, because children and young people are not referred to us for help, they refer themselves. So it is crucial that we are where children want us to be, and these days they need us to be with them on their phones and tablets, so they can reach out to us whenever they need us. To do this, Childline needs to be on-top of technological trends in order to keep engaged with children and young people, and make sure we are here for them all day every day in the most accessible way possible.”

The new website, designed for children and young people, offers articles, games and videos on various topics such as bullying, puberty and school. There are real life stories and messages boards which are moderated and supported by hosts. Children can read messages but need an account to post a message. When children click on a sensitive subject a warning appears that this may be upsetting or trigger difficult feelings and emotions.

There is also a helpful YouTube video explaining the process of what happens when you contact Childline – i.e. a phone call will be answered and then transferred to a counsellor. Similarly when you enter the online chat, you are prompted to create an account, which explains that an email address isn’t needed and what details are asked for in advance.

The new website has masses of information for children about topics which are important to them.  It is easy to navigate and exit, and children may find support and information from reading the articles, but if not there is option of online chat or a phone call. Childline online is an important part of Your Child’s Digital World.

Thank you for reading my blog.

Lynn Findlay  lynn@fostercarecooperative.co.uk

Tickets for the ‘Your Child’s Digital World’ fostering conference, taking place on Tuesday 5th February 2019, are on sale via Eventbrite here.