Hooray! From January 2015 onwards we open a new chapter in digital youth counselling’s history. In cooperation with TUBA we will develop a full counselling website specifically targeting young boys. This is a much-needed initiative since about 8 out of 10 youngsters seeking advice in Denmark are girls.

The Velux foundation has chosen to sponsor this project with 4,5 million DKK. The project will run until 2017, and its primary purpose is developing new strategies to enhance online counselling for boys, particularly boys from alcoholic families.

“Why can’t you just tell me what to do?!”

Through the years we have often encountered a frustration from boys who either do not have the patience or understanding of the acknowledgeable and guided form of counselling that most online counsellings make use of today.

With our upcoming boy’s counselling we finally have the opportunity to make a difference for boys who we normally do not reach without comprising the practice that we’ve built at cyberhus.dk, and which we believe stands solid as it is. So we will challenge the feminine, soft, and self-developing strategies and appeal directly to boys in new ways through a separate site. However, this requires that we develop a strong user-oriented alternative.

A dream come true

“We could do a lot of things differently. This is a dream come true! Now we have the opportunity to reset and do something radically different from what people like us have always done,”

says Niels-Christian Bilenberg, who is pedagogical advisor with Centre for Digital Youth Care and counselling manager with Cyberhus. He adds that it is not just about reaching the boys:

“We DO have a hold of a lot of boys for whom our counselling makes good sense the way it is. It is all the others that we have to help. Those none of us have been able to reach.”

Tangible advice and Gamification

The volunteers in our boys counselling will for the most part consist of males. This will already set the counselling apart from the existing online counsellings in Denmark where the majority of counsellors are women. Furthermore, the tone itself needs to be challenged. We presume that it will be directed from our present acknowledgeable counselling to more direct advice. Until fall of 2015 we will evolve these methods, test hypotheses, and set up user test scenarios.

Aside from the softer aspects of the project we will develop a supporting digital platform which particularly will assess the development around gamification – transferring gaming logics from a traditional field of gaming to a completely different societal arena. Thus, we will test whether the technical platform will be able to carry the boys’ orientation toward competition, visual development, and hierarchy in a way that situations of counselling will become more appealing and natural for the boys to enter into.

Behind the project

The project is developed and operated by Centre for Digital Youth Care in cooperation with TUBA. Consultancy Ineva is external evaluator throughout the entire project. The project is supported by Velux Fonden (the Velux foundation).

Responsible contact person in Centre for Digital Youth Care, Jonas Sindal, can be contacted by e-mail: jonassindal@cfdp.dk.

This post is originally written in Danish.

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