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Cyberhus 2016 – news and trends

2016 has been an eventful year for Cyberhus. In july, Centre for Digital Youth Care (CfDP) introduced a new mobile- and tablet friendly design to Cyberhus.dk which has resulted in more visitors. We are also excited that four municipalities have joined our chat counselling, and this number, at the minimum, is expected to join us during 2017, too. However, new challenges arise as major social media platforms prosper, and we need to meet these challenges in 2017.

By Sonya Spender, communicator, CfDP

New initiatives create increased user traffic at Cyberhus

2016 marked the year when Cyberhus became significantly mobile-friendly and changed its design. This has had a major impact on the number of visitors to cyberhus.dk. Those, who know and have previously visited cyberhus.dk, will immediately notice the new design which was launched in July 2016. Prior to this mark, Cyberhus.dk was not particularly mobile-friendly and since seeing a marked increase of visitors from mobile devices over the years, it was a an obvious upgrade to venture into. So, a new design was developed, and this change has resulted in an increase of visitors of nearly 30% which could indicate that our design innovation has met a substantial need. During 2017, we will further refine the design and include more colours.

We are also excited that CfDP has entered into new collaborations with three Danish municipalities in 2016 (the municipalities of Aarhus, Ringkøbing-Skjern and Halsnæs), who each now has their own chat counselling on Cyberhus.dk. Since then, the municipality of Odder has joined (January 2017), followed by the municipalities of Skanderborg and Vejle which are both expected to go online during the first quarter of this year – and more municipalities are interested. The new municipal collaborations are sponsored by the Velux foundation, and the municipal services are popular among young people.

Instagram and Jodel challenges youth-to-youth activities

Having a strong youth-to-youth activity is something Cyberhus has always highly prioritised, and it also represents one of the elements that distinguishes Cyberhus from most other counselling services. However, despite of an increased user traffic to cyberhus in 2016, we have seen a significant drop of approximately 40% in regards to Cyberhus’ youth-to-youth activities. These include Discussion forum, Secrets, Images, and Group chat, the latter being the only stable activity of the above mentioned youth-to-youth activities. Niels-Christian Bilenberg, Cyberhus’ head coordinator, stresses that this is a tendency which we will have to face:

“Much activity and traffic indeed have moved from old-styled forums, such as ‘the scooter gallery’ or ‘the horse gallery’, to different social networks, e.g., public and private Facebook groups, and platforms like Instagram and Jodel. This is a clear-cut tendency which we need to consider in our work.”

Last mentioned, Jodel, has seen a great growth of popularity in 2016, from being big in select Danish cities, e.g., Aalborg and Aarhus, to trending nationally. Jodel accommodates many things which Cyberhus’ forum otherwise has been able to meet. So, it is clear to see why a lot of traffic is now moving to new, big platforms, such as the likes of Jodel.

Counting more than 3,500 interactions in 2016, there is still plenty of life in Cyberhus’ youth-to-youth activities. However, during 2017, we will make an effort to make our youth-to-youth features far more intuitive and fluid in accordance with the big platforms setting the standard today.

Another important thing, which separates Cyberhus.dk significantly from other counselling services, is the fact that all content is moderated by an adult, so counsellors have the ability to always keep up with what is happening. As such, we create a much higher degree of safety for young people which the major social platforms cannot match. Therefore, upgrading Cyberhus’ youth-to-youth features is a highly prioritised effort in 2017.

Heavy issues increase

So, what do young people make inquiries about? Cyberhus sees an increase of so-called heavy issues, e.g., sexual abuse and self-harm. We have always had quite a few inquiries about self-harm, however the number of such inquiries are growing significantly, and we also have a lot of inquiries about sexual abuse – this is a prevalent issue in our 1-1 chat. Our municipal chats experience the same tendencies, as they, too, give a great deal of counselling on sexual abuse and self-harm. Niels-Christian Bilenberg explains that coordinators of Cyberhus’ 1-1 chat have recently held an internal meeting, and CfDP has also recently met with their municipal collaborators, where it was obvious that everyone experiences the above-mentioned heavy issues.

Concerning inquiries about eating disorders, Cyberhus has seen a decrease. Particularly in Cyberhus’ 1-1 chat counselling, inquiries are almost cut in half, and it is not because there is less focus on eating disorders from society, nor that fewer are struggling with eating disorders. Perhaps, it could indicate that more young people, suffering from an eating disorder, find other counselling services that focus specifically on eating disorders, for instance LMS (The National Association for eating disorders and self-harm).

Increased focus on gender identity and sexual identity

In regards to more common teen issues during 2016, there has been an increase of inquiries about gender identity and sexual identity, and this is one of the reasons why Cyberhus has added a nonbinary gender as an option to choose from when entering a chatroom on Cyberhus. Niels-Christian Bilenberg explains:

“Of course, we still have a lot of conversations about heartache, falling in love – but we also receive questions such as: What am I? What turns me on? Am I a girl or a boy, if any? Such issues occupy young people quite a lot.”

41% more questions on our medical- and dental problem pages

One last focus point of 2016, which Cyberhus highlights, is their medical- and dental problem pages. Actually, this is where we see the biggest increase, counting 41% more inquiries than the year before. It is unclear whether this is due to more followers/users on Cyberhus, or whether it is due to CfDP’s interdisciplinary collaboration with municipalities, project BRUS, or other services which may refer young people to Cyberhus. In many instances, it is Cyberhus that guides users to other various services. Cyberhus often highlights their medical- and dental problem pages to their partners because it provides a unique opportunity to ask all of the awkward questions without having to attend one’s general practitioner.

Figures of 2016

Generally:
In 2016, Cyberhus.dk has had a total of 613,000 visitors compared to 381,000 the year before.

Following Cyberhus’ redesign, Cyberhus.dk has experienced an increase of users from 274,000 in the first half of 2016 to 350,000 users in the second half.

Youth-to-youth section:
1,300 comments, 150 images, 950 secrets, 75 blog posts, 280 debate posts and 766 group chat participants (totalling 3,521 interactions).

In total, youth-to-youth has experienced a decrease of activity of 30% during 2015-16.

Youth-to-adult section:
1,503 questions on Cyberhus’ problem pages, 1,187 conversations in Cyberhus’ 1-1-chat, 398 conversations in Cyberhus’ municipal chats (totalling 3,088 interactions).

Cyberhus’ medical- and dental problem pages received a total of 256 questions in 2015, and in 2016, this number increased to 361 questions – an increase of 105 questions.

Cyberhus’ own 1-1 chat counselling is at almost the same level as last year, approximately 1,200 chat conversations.

There has been an increase of 300 inquiries on Cyberhus’ problem pages. The overall increase of inquiries to Cyberhus’ youth-to-adult section (chat + problem pages) is almost 10%.

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