Consultative cases from Cyberhus.dk

The objective of this page is to give present and future international collaborators an idea of what sort of issues children and young people address daily in Cyberhus and not least, how we as professionals meet our young people.


Cyberhus’ problem pages represent only one of many counselling options at Cyberhus. We are choosing to show activity from our problem pages since all questions and answers are already publicised with the acceptance of our young people. The questions shown are just a small sample of approximately 2,000 questions we receive from young people each year.

Please note, it is not possible to ask questions on this site as this page merely presents examples from Cyberhus’ online problem pages.

Teenage life

Computer games as a pedagogical tool – a municipal project.

Together with the local municipal youth center, Center for Digital Youthcare is in charge of a social group activity, aimed a young gamers. The young meet twice weekly, in order to game together, as well as to talk about life’s’ ups and downs. The computer games are a social and pedagogical tool, which the associated youth workers use to meet the young people at eye level in their everyday lives. In the fall – using funds guaranteed by the Ministry of Health’s “Fund for combatting gambling addiction” – the project will be expanded to include a further five Danish municipalities.

The gaming program has been running since 2015. Since its humble beginnings, starting with only three young people and a single Playstation, it has been growing steadily. Prior to this year’s summer vacation, 40 young people wanted to become part of the program. Most of them want to meet their own, their family’s ( a contact from the municipal authorities, or a caseworker’s) goals concerning personal development; often defined as a better social life and an increased interest in school- and -family life. Not only have we been seeing an increase when it comes to the happiness and the young people’s  capacity regarding social interactions, but there is also a significant decrease in negative behaviour, like gambling (skin betting and gambling on e-sports) and externalising behaviour. On this basis the Ministry of Health has supported the project with additional funds, allowing for the project to be expanded to five partnering municipalities, during the coming year. This includes paying for manpower, introduction-events ect. in the partnering municipalities.

Smoke grenades are important

Within the blue walls, decorated with gaming-logos and drawings, which the Aarhus Municipality have made available, a group of young people, who have some kind of challenge in their everyday lives, and a love of games and game universes as their only common denominators, meet three times a week. Some of them are there because they have an ADHD, autism, or anxiety -diagnosis, which is getting a bit out of hand. Others are there because they have been socially isolated from their peers for a bit too long, and thus need to train their social skills a bit. The only thing which we all have in common, is that we have an interest in computer games  – and that is the common ground, where we meet each other.

The aspiring class, the young who are new to the project, meet on Mondays. The elite class meet every Wednesday, starting with the gaming sessions,  and then later, they have dinner together. On Thursday the doors are open to anyone who wants to come – which, quite often, means almost everyone. For those who are new to the group – the aspirants – the time spent with the program is divided equally between classes about gaming, and group exercises on one hand, and the games themselves on the other. In the beginning, the parents of the aspirants are also part of the program, receiving separate classes. Furthermore, the parents are given the opportunity to meet with other parents and discuss some of the things which may give cause for concern, or excitement, when you have a child who is a gamer.

For the young and their parents alike, the classes deal with topics such as:

  • Can you become addicted to computer games?
  • Will playing games cause you to become violent? Why the age restrictions?
  • What can the skills and experiences gained will gaming be used for?
  • How to best have a conversation in the digital space.

The classes are not tied to any kind of national test or a certain curriculum. Instead, the starting point is to meet the young at eye level, as they are engaged in their hobby, and try to develop qualified opinions about said hobby. Furthermore the young get training in how to behave during clases, as during the preliminary talks, many of them express a wish, wanting to get better at keeping up with their school work.

In some cases, the classes are taught by young people, who have been part of the program for a good while longer the the aspirants. For some, having to make a presentation in front of peers, can be quite a fear-inducing experience, but when the subject matter is something like “smoke grenades on Mirage and Inferno”, instead of something like anatomy, or the blissful insights relating to fractions, that sometimes makes it a bit easier – and it can be an invaluable training experience.

The Hopeless adults and the capable young

When the young are enrolled in the program, they have a kickoff-conversation with two of the programs youth workers. Here the young talk about what they think they are good at, as well as what they would like to get better at. The picture which the young thus paint of themselves, together with comments from the parents or the contact, is used to form the project groups basis for measuring weather or not  the young person succeeds in the course of the program. According to both the young themselves, and the observations made by the adults around them, by far most of the young people experience significant progress regarding school, as well as family relations and relations with friends, within the first months.

As professionals, it is easy for to hold the young accountable to kvantitative ordinances and measurable parameters, such as, their level of school attendance, how often they have done something with friends, how often they have engaged in skinbetting ect.. With all that said, our main motivation for expanding the project to an additional five municipalities, was the fact that we can see, that the young people experience personal growth, and at a basic level, they simply  become happier than they were before. However, it is not the games as such that are making the young happier than they were before; It is the focus, the atmosphere, and the setting of the project.

We build a space, where the games only have value insofar as we play them together – and have a good time doing so. Of course, weather  we win or loose does matter, and naturally 1st place is also the most fun place to to be standing. Gaming is a competitive sport, but the main thing, is that we try to win – together. The program allows us to play all kinds of genres and titles; Counter-Strike, League of Legends, FIFA and Fortnite have been at the top of our list of activities for a long time.  When it comes to playing the young people’s favourite games, the game in question only has to meet the following simple criteria: It has to have multiplayer, and it has to be a game which others want to play as well. This means that as adults, we have to be good at not hindering the experiences that the young are having, when playing their favorite games, and even though that approach has lead to a lot of late night sessions, it has also had the effect of allowing us to enter their digital and social arena, and to to so, on an (almost) equal footing. Allowing the young to teach the grownups how the games are played, is also a pedagogical exercise – even if it does require that one is not “totally” hopeless to begin with.

Skills transferable to the manual world

It is such a great thing to see; when we put the young in a room and tell them that EVERYONE in here is a nerd – even if nerds come in many different varieties, Dungeons & Dragons, Diablo, and League of Legends still have something in common – then the young succeed. To many of them, the nerd culture becomes a sanctuary in a world, which due to anxiety, bullying, parents, or whatever else, can suddenly become very hard to handle, unlike the nerd world, which, by contrast, they become very skilled at handling. Instead of telling the young that the skills and experiences which they have gained from playing digital games – as well as from being part of the gaming culture – don’t have any value, we can make them feel ten feet tall, when we share the genuine excitement that they feel after having won a chicken dinner the previous night. And even more importantly; we can motivate them to participate in the program. Some of the young in the programm are so afflicted by anxiety or social apathy, that they have not been outside their own home for long periods of time, but because they are SO motivated to be part of the gaming program, they may learn to set their alarm clock again, dare to take the bus, or dare to make new friends, because “Everyone in here is a nerd like me anyway”.

On the surface, the gaming programm is “just” about hanging out with the young, while playing a bit of Counter-Strike or Gangbeasts ….but underneath all that, countless pedagogical, psychological and social considerations are involved, and this is where Centre for Digital Youth Care’s (CfDP) expert knowledge gets to be part of the mix, which also consists of the know-how  and practical experience, which employees of the Aarhus Municipality brings to the table. Currently, we are in the process of putting together a manual, containing all the approaches, experiences, and exercises which make up the everyday life of the programm. When the manual is finished, the program will be ready to expand to the five partnering municipalities, which are currently being selected, and partnership agreements are being drawn up.

Taking our experiences, gained from our work with and within the Aarhus Municipality, and applying them to other municipalities is going to make this fall an exciting time for us. I have no doubt that part of the reason why the program has had some success in Aarhus, is because we have been lucky enough to have some of the most impressive and hardworking young people ever, but even so, there are commonalities, transferable knowledge, and practical experience, which we can use when starting similar programs with other groups. Funds from the Ministry of Health have made it possible for CfDP to cover (some of) the payroll cost, the introductory events and courses, which are a necessary prerequisite before new additional municipalities will be able to run a program of their own. What this means, is that we are passed the first big hurdle, which one needs to overcome when implementing these kinds of program at a municipal level, namely the question “Who’s paying?”, cause we have an answer; “we are”.

The gaming project is run by some amazingly competent people at CfDP and the Aarhus Municipality, and as time has passed, the project has passed many a litmus test, which is why we are going to take our practical knowledge, along with the new manual, and apply it to the rest of Denmark. We have witnessed the big difference that it has made in the lives of many young people in Aarhus, and we are super excited to be able to help five other ambitious municipalities start their own programs.

This article was originally written (in danish) by Christian Mogensen for CfDP, and subsequently translated and edited by Michael Sørensen

Digital youth work – a Finnish perspective

Verke’s first publication in English, titled ”Digital youth work – a Finnish perspective”, presents 32 diverse viewpoints into digital youth work. Some of the articles contained in this book have been published previously in Finnish while some have been specifically written for this publication.

Like in all Verke’s materials they strive to bring to light both the how and the why of digital youth work and hope that this book will make future co-operation with Finnish youth work actors even easier.

You can download the pdf or order a printed copy for free on Verke’s website.

More than 1,000 Danish young people are indicted for sharing child pornography

A good thousand people can expect an indictment for distributing child pornography. That is, they have shared sexually offensive material of people below the age of 18, using Facebook and Messenger. The video and pictures are from 2015, and have been shared among young people all over the country but primarily, in Copenhagen and the surrounding area. The material consists of pornographic content with a girl and a boy who, at the time of taping, both were below the age of 15. This may be a violation of section 235 of the Danish Penal code – distribution of child pornography. (from the Danish police press statement)

Big case with far-reaching consequences

With this case, the police has initiated the greatest effort in Danish history concerning sharing offensive content without consent. The police is indicting the young people involved according to the Danish section on sharing child pornography because the shared video clearly shows genitals and sexual activity with one or more people below the age of 18. And so, it would be interesting to find out what the young people’s intention of sharing the video has been. Likely, very few have actually wanted to share child pornography. However, it is important to remember that the consequences with the victim stay the same regardless of the intent of the violator. The police has issued a Q&A concerning this case, which says:

Q: This wouldn’t be an issue of child pornography in these cases – young people regard each other as peers. Isn’t it unfair they’d get a spot on their criminal record disclosure which does not match reality?

A: That is one reason we act so progressively. And because these pictures can quickly land in the hands of someone who’s got completely different motives. Law is law, and it denotes the material of people below the age of 18 as child pornography, and this is also reflected in the penalty. So, it’s important that young people realise it’s a serious violation which harms the people involved as well as themselves.

What we do at CfDP

At CfDP, we are optimistic that the police is choosing to run this case. We collaborate with The Police’s National Cyber Crime Centre and a wide range of child care organisations on a broad communicative effort. Although the case is severe and will be of great importance to both victims and violators, it is important that we use this event to grow wiser. We owe the young people who are not aware of the legal and moral consequences of this type of sharing to become better equipped. For several years, we have stated that too few young people know and understand the consequences of sharing offensive material.

At Centre for Digital Youth Care, we naturally use our different counselling platforms – Cyberhus and MitAssist – and our lecture/talk serices for information, debate, and conversation. You are more than welcome to contact us, should you be interested in information or teaching.

What you can do

It is completely understandable if you have questions for this specific case. It is also understandable if you would like to know what you can do if you, or your child or pupil, are involved in this case or similar cases. Please read the police’s own questions and answers which you can find HERE.

Generally, the police refers to the Criminal Prevention Council’s sites for information on consequences and law.

For young people and parents: http://dkr.dk/it/deling-af-billeder/
For professionals (teachers): http://dkr.dk/it/ulovlig-billeddeling/

The image below is an overview of the police’s recommendations and information.

Jonas Ravn / jonas@cfdp.dk / 22302091

Advice and recommendations from the Danish Criminal Prevention Council

Accreditation: from a healthy skepticism to a positive experience

The advantages outweigh the disadvantages
Over the years there has been a debate about the pros and cons of accreditation in both health and educational field, and now the turn has come to the social counselings. RådgivningsDanmark has developed an accreditation system that contains both a quality model and an accreditation process. The model contains five points (academic access, competencies, performance and target audience, values, ethics and legislation as well as management and involvement) that underpin the quality standard of social counseling (read more about the system here).

Accreditation has given Niels-Christian Bilenberg a lot to think about: “My first thought was probably what is it and why should we do it? And I believe there are many people out there who feel the same way.” Niels-Christian explains that the sincere desire to make a difference goes against quality assurance. That’s the reason behind his own skepticism. It is contrary to the heart of a social worker. However, as a recently graduated counseling auditor (auditor with professional experience from a counseling office), he now sees accreditation process in a completely different light. It has given him a personal and professional boost, as well as inspiration from other counseling organizations, that he can contribute with at Center for Digital Youth Care.

What is a Counseling Auditor? (auditor with professional experience from a counseling office)
The counseling field works with a large number of factors which can make it difficult to measure a counseling offer.
For example:
• The effect and quality of the individual situation will be a subjective assessment of counselors, consulters, management, collaborators and others.

• Working with a vulnerable and sometimes completely anonymous user group, where you cannot ask the youth about their experience with the counseling they have received.

• There may be special challenges in terms of recruitment and continuous replacement of counselors for those who work with volunteer counselors.

In order to ensure an accreditation process that takes these factors into account, RådgivningsDanmark has chosen to always include an auditor with experience from the consulting industry. In addition, it must be an auditor who is still active in the field. The main task of a counseling auditor is to act as a link between the measurable requirements of the accreditation system and the way in which each counseling works, as well as understanding and describing themselves.


Accreditation – What’s in it for me?

As an organization, one gets the opportunity to have their practice looked carefully through, according to the previously described factors (the five points) agreed on by the industry association, describing good quality in the counseling field. As it is a special accreditation model developed by and to RådgivningsDanmark’s member organizations, quality assurance is guaranteed for the practices.

Accreditation is a quality stamp, but the internal process of accreditation may even have a higher value: “I’ve done accreditation at another organization and it was a really positive experience! They had a good process where they talked the whole organization over, both structure, goals, workflows and volunteer management. The internal process will clearly increase the quality of their work” says Niels-Christian. According to him, the best thing about the accreditation system is room for differences, so the organizations are assessed on the basis of the same criteria, although there are very big differences between the member organizations and the way they work.

CfDP is currently not accredited: “We will definitely do it in the future. We are currently awaiting clarification on whether CfDP should be accredited as the main organization or it’s the individual counseling services, such as Cyberhus, Netstof and MitAssist, under CfDP, that should get accredited individually” concludes Niels-Christian.

CfDP receives grant of 2 million DKK

New preventive counseling draws on positive experiences
We are looking forward to initiate the project, which we believe can make a difference for a big number of vulnerable adolescents. The overall aim is to develop a free of charge, nationwide counseling service offering open and anonymous counseling sessions in group chats with permanent volunteer counselors. At the same time, the project ensures the transition between digital programs and public consultation. The special feature of the new counseling offer is the transfer of CfDP’s positive experiences with open digital group chat, focusing on digitizing methodology from physical group consultations, focus on permanent counselors, as well as individual selection of anonymous young group participants. A digital bridge building model is developed between voluntary social work and the municipalities’ professional treatment facilities.

The project covers needs in the counseling landscape
Thousands of adolescents contacts the Danish digital counselings annually because they can get advice while maintaining a high level of anonymity. Over the years, the digital counseling services have developed a more refined network of communication methods and media that can accommodate different needs of the target audience, but there are still a number of gaps in the relatively young digital counseling field. CfDP’s project seeks to fill more of these gaps with the new counseling form, which is more relationship-oriented and less volatile than existing anonymous offers. There is a great potential for more online group counseling. Over the past two years, on our existing counseling platforms (Cyberhus, Netstof and Mitassist) there has been an increase in the demand for and use of group chat, as the adolescents in this communication medium can reflect more actively in their peers than in those otherwise widespread 1-1 chats with adult counselors, which is the dominant digital counseling form in Denmark. Group chat allows more adolescents to participate in the counseling, allows them to form meaningful communities, and gives them a broader perspective on their own situation. However, the challenge of existing group chats may be that they are open and therefore also relatively hectic and sometimes unfocused. For this reason, CfDP sees thematic limited and group-defined chat sessions as a significant shortcoming in the Danish counseling services.

We are very pleased with the grant and the options it ensures. Especially the chance to develop and custom make the counselor services to the vulnerable target group and thereby contribute to a positive development in their lives.

We wish everyone a great summer!

New book about young people’s digital education

Children and youth co-create online culture

Jonas Ravn of CfDP is one of the book’s seven contributors (the other six contributors include: Søren Hebsgaard, Johannes Andersen, Camilla Mehlsen, Anne Mette Thorhauge, Louise Ørum Skytt, Linda Sendrup and Christine Lehn-Schiøler).

Jonas Ravn explores, with his section, digital education through a perspective of well-being. For example, how might children and young people build an ethical filter and put it to use when interacting on the internet? How do they acquire digital skills such as understanding the influence of social media, and how do they learn to act on such understanding? It is also highlighted how children and young people should learn to become aware of their role as co-creators of culture on social media, and that their internet behaviour might be either positive (supportive) or negative (bullying).

General information about the anthology

“Children and young people seek identity, recognition, friendships, and community during their childhood. That’s nothing new. The new thing is the fact that the conditions have changed fundamentally with the internet and social media.”

This is how Lisbeth Brunebjerg Holmegaard and Claus Hjort of the Media Council explain the need for more focus on digital education among children and young people. It is necessary that they gain a sufficient understanding of digital technologies so that they grow into adulthood to become responsible, critical citizens of society. So, the seven authors of the anthology each submit their different perspectives on young people’s digital lives. However, they all agree that it is a task for both parents and professionals to intervene early in young people’s lives and help them by guiding and supporting them in the process of digital education. The role of the adult as well as inspiration for the practical work at hand are described in the book which is available here (Danish publication).

Netstof launches new effort for upper secondary education

New magazine for all upper secondary education

In the fall, Netstof will launch a magazine for teachers and student counsellors across the country’s upper secondary education. The magazine will support the new teaching material and show how teachers may use Netstof for different types of teaching and for informing young people. The Danish Health Authority has helped fund the project, and so, all upper secondary education will receive a physical copy of the magazine along with references for the digital teaching material. The teaching material will become an integral part of Netstof, available for use online as well as in print.

Finn Halkjær – New relatives-counsellor on Netstof.dk

Last week, Netstof welcomed Finn Halkjær as a new relatives-counsellor. Finn is working as a treatment provider with U-turn counselling and parent-groups at the municipal of Copenhagen. He has a background as a psychiatric nurse and has worked in the field of youth psychiatry for many years.

For the last ten years, Finn has done consultative conversations with particularly parent-groups in addition to leading parent-groups with U-turn. He will be part of the team which services problem pages for relatives, along with Lone Walsøe and Flemming Licht. Read more about Netstof’s anonymous counselling, and watch video-interviews for and with parents on Netstof’s page for relatives (in Danish).

Netstof.dk is a serious and professional alternative to Psychedelia.dk

The latest copy of STOF (Danish publication on drug abuse, ed.) presents an article about Netstof. This article shows, among other things, an overview of visitor numbers and visitor behaviour among young people on netstof.dk. It’s interesting to notice that Netstof appears before Psychedelia.dk on Google’s search engine when young people search for “drugs.” This is of great importance, and Netstof can thank its subscribers. As of last year, several new subscribers have been added and the number now includes 32 municipal members. The most recent members include Copenhagen, Glostrup, Syddjurs and Køge. See an overview of all municipal members.

See the STOF article, pp. 86-87 (in Danish).

Suicide works!

By Christian Mogensen, speaker & project manager, CfDP

Spoiler alert: This article contains descriptions of the end of the series, so if you would like to watch the series, reconsider whether or not to read this article.

Problems and solutions

Before the drama unfolds, the series is introduced against the backdrop of an acoustic guitar and an introduction of the narrator – Hannah – who is dead. Shifting from the recited posthumous suicide note to real-time, two young girls are standing next to the deceased Hannah’s classical high-school locker, talking about how beautiful she is in the pictures before they snap a selfie, capturing the biggest portrait on the locker.

13 Reasons Why shows teenage life with all its digital detours.

13 Reasons Why is overflowing with references and caricatures of teenage life, some more precise than others. Most importantly, the series sets the perspective at eye level with the teenage protagonists and takes very seriously their broken hearts, the raging rumours, their staggering identity, and their starting sexuality. Hannah Baker’s suicide is readily a reaction to easily recognisable teenage challenges which most viewers of the same age group would resonance with, and for this reason, we as professionals must pursue the question of whether the “hero”, in light of the series’ reaction to ordinary problems, is made to be ordinary – or glorified?

Also, read our interview with C – a young girl who has previously suffered from cutting, self-harm, and suicide-attempts – where we talk about the series’ representation of difficult subjects: I do understand Hannah

During the journey of the series’ 13 episodes, we get to know Hannah and her motives on an intimate and honest level. All the heavier is the emotional punch to the stomach when we see one of the most graphic and violent scenes ever during the final episode. Important – We must warn that the description of the ending of the series below may seem very violent but we describe it here in order to emphasise why it’s important for professionals and parents to talk to young people about the series:

Hannah finds herself in the family bathroom. She turns on the water in the bath tub. She makes a little insecure nod to herself in the mirror above the bathroom sink before she steps into the bath tub. Her clothes get wet and she starts to cry. With her right hand, she opens the artery on her left arm. We see her skin being depressed before it releases itself to the razor blade with blood trickling down. First a little bit, then a lot. Next, she does the same thing to her right arm. She twists because it hurts but she continues. As the water turns red, she loses consciousness. Her mother finds her, screams, clasps her to her while she screams for God, Hanna’s father, and Hannah herself.

Bullying and speaking time

The suicide in 13 Reasons Why is neither depicted as something beautiful or “right”; her parents are destroyed, her classmates are crying, and no one really understands why.

Hannah’s biggest problem – before her suicide – is that she is misunderstood or overlooked by the people around her. Nobody listens (or understands her), and nobody sees her. Really sees her. – As she says in her tape recordings leading up to her suicide:

“Do not take me for granted. Not again.”

When Hannah does not want to be taken for granted – again – or when she half despairingly, half accusingly says, “You’ve never been a girl,” you take her seriously because she has made the ultimate sacrifice to get the viewers’ attention. The suicide gives Hannah an authority to tell her story from her perspective – almost an entitlement.

Why would a dead girl lie?

The risk of 13 Reasons Why is not the fact that it articulates a suicide or perhaps glorifies it. Teenagers know that suicide exists. The risk of the series is the fact that Hannah does not get her speaking time until she has killed herself. Hannah does not become important until she has committed suicide, and therein lies the series’ greatest challenge: The suicide becomes a necessary means to stop the things Hannah experiences and is exposed to. The only way (in the series) she can stop the bullying, the abuse, and the indifference is by slitting her wrists.

At no time are mental issues or diagnoses which may lead to suicide, if not remedied, articulated. – Potential remedy which also does not play a big role in the series; guilt imposition, on the other hand, does; It’s everybody else – the 13 people who each have received their own cassette tape – who are to blame that Hannah is dead. Her final revenge are the accusations on tape, and they are left with no opportunity to fend for themselves.

Help?

“What if the only way not to feel bad, is to stop feeling anything, at all – forever?”

But you can get help! Denmark has helplines for both chat, text, and talking, and we have a vast network for prevention of suicide and self-harm – like most other countries do. These networks and measures are not touched by the popular Netflix show, and that’s a problem. The problem is not that the series focuses on a girl’s suicide – the problem is that the series presents the suicide as an effective “now I’ll show everyone they were wrong!”-solution, and at the same time presenting it as an inevitable endgame for bullying and abuse. 13 Reasons Why is excellent television containing all the ingredients for becoming a next generation of Beverly Hills; it’s already been renewed for another season and it’s particularly popular among teenagers.

13 Reasons Why very much deals with being the one left out.

As parents and professionals we may take advantage of people’s interest in the series and the subject it addresses – we know that the show is watched by young people, and we know that the show does not really try to lift the responsibility which necessarily has to accompany such a heavy issue. This responsibility trickles down to the adults, especially adults around young people who potentially could see Hannah’s suicide as a “good idea”, both because of a heavy teen-mindset but also because of a nobody-listens-to-me-frustration which can greatly occupy life during teen-years.

13 Reasons Why kicks up high a pretty big ball – it’s the responsibility of professionals and parents to catch it again.

Read more: Interview: “I do understand Hannah”


Many organisations, helplines, and chat services in Denmark are ready to listen, guide, or just “be there” for those who would like to talk about self-harm, suicide, eating disorders, and other issues. Get in touch with the Danish National Association against eating disorders and self-harm @ www.lmsos.dk/ or Lifeline @ www.livslinien.dk or tel. 70201201. Also, there’s always somebody to talk to on CfDP’s own anonymous youth counselling on www.cyberhus.dk.

The municipality of Roskilde: Joint mission across departments

Roskilde municipality would like to ferret out vulnerable young people online

The municipality of Roskilde is choosing to use digital counselling in order to ferret out vulnerable young people who are hurting or who are at risk of developing problems. This way, the municipality may have the opportunity to intervene at an early stage and possibly prevent future problems. The Director of Training and Health with the municipality of Roskilde, Hanne Ourø Jensen, hopes that the upcoming project may provide an answer whether digital chat is a good medium to detect vulnerable young people as early as possible with the purpose of motivating them to receive help. “We hope to get in touch with some of the young people whom we otherwise don’t see, or whom we meet very late when they are already in a skewed development,” says Hanne Ourø Jensen.

Roskilde municipality views the anonymity as a major advantage. The motivational phase of having the opportunity to make a difference in young people’s lives can be quite long since many young people are shy about problems in their family and their own problems, as well. So, anonymity may help young people seek help sooner while allowing the municipality to introduce to someone the help they are able to offer.

CfDP to teach us digital pedagogy

Thus, the municipality of Roskilde has joined the vast group of municipalities who are currently working with Centre for Digital Youth Care on digital chat counselling. Hanne Ourø Jensen looks forward to their collaboration and is hoping that CfDP may help Roskilde municipality in several areas, including: Development of a collaboration between an organisation for volunteers, positive informational exchange about chatting with young people online, and general experience in the digital field. “They must teach us how to do digital pedagogy, because this is a field with which we are unfamiliar,” explains Hanne Ourø Jensen. Hanne explains that there are many considerations and fixed procedures for the municipality to meet citizens directly and personally. However, since a lot of young people spend much of their life on digital media, the municipality of Roskilde must meet them differently.

Chatting is a tool that can open up interdisciplinary collaboration

“At risk” and vulnerable young people are a challenge for Roskilde municipality, and for many of the departments, it is a core task to help children and young people start a healthy and well-balanced adult life. Cross-departmental collaboration is therefore necessary, and the chat room has proved to be a good tool for the interdisciplinary collaboration in other municipalities. You are independent of geographic distances, and only one computer and an internet connection are required. “It makes sense that we’re collaborating, so we may acquire as much information as possible as well as capacity building on counselling and early detection of vulnerable young people via the internet,” Hanne Ourø Jensen concludes.

Read more about CfDP’s municipal collaborations.

Project BRUS: Difficult to sit on your hands!

Breaking the taboo on drug-born families

Most importantly, project BRUS helps adolescens to break the taboo on alcohol or drugs in their families. BRUS does this by articulating adolescens experiences, either through physical meetings or through anonymous chat counselling. BRUS would also like to help break the taboo with parents, if needed. Liability arrangement is part of BRUS’ work on taboos and articulating adolescens experiences, since quite a few of them assume way too much responsibility. BRUS allows adolescens to let go of a responsibility which is not theirs in the first place, and instead, allowing them to focus on their own needs. Elisa Baunsgaard, treatment provider at BRUS, explains that a lot of adolescens she encounters in her work, find it hard to feel their own emotions:

”We help young people notice how they feel so that they become aware of their own boundaries as well as getting a sense of their own responsibility. We empower them to act by making them agents of their own lives.”

The chat counselling is reaching a broader target group of adolescens

Although digital counselling is still rather new at BRUS, there is no doubt about the many benefits. Through a digital chat, BRUS may reach a broader target group of adolescens who need adult contact. It may be adolescens who do not trust the treatment system and who would never enter a physical practice, but through chatting they might regain their in professional help – and more importantly, that someone wants to help them. Likewise, the chatroom gives them an opportunity to practice saying things aloud in an anonymous and casual room where they, safely, can see how their words are responded to by other people.

The chatroom is also a flexible tool that makes a process possible for adolescens who find it difficult to make time for BRUS in their daily opening hours, or who live far away from the physical location of BRUS. This way, the chat counselling can help maintain and motivate adolescens in-between the physical conversations.

Chatting with someone you cannot see, nor hear

Regarding challenges, Elisa Baunsgaard does not hide the fact that there are certain challenges associated with the chat counselling as a tool: “I’m used to working with physical attendance and contact where I can read adolescens and balance myself to the one I’m in a dialogue with face to face. So, personally and professionally, it’s a challenge chatting with someone you can’t see or hear. There’s no mimic.” Elisa also mentions that it is new to her to “sit on her hands,” that is, listening to adolescens stories and experiences without going directly to solutions or action plans. As a social worker and a treatment provider, Elisa Bundgaard is used to take action, for example, calling an adolescens family or school teachers. Chat counselling is different, and she acknowledges that it requires some effort of adjustment.

Maintaining anonymity despite recognising a young person in a chatroom, is also a challenge. As a starting point, all chat sessions must be considered unique, so someone may tell their story again and again and thus, practice articulating something that is difficult. At times, this is challenging for treatment providers who usually have the opportunity to follow up on the content from conversation to conversation. In this connection, BRUS have chosen to show their first names in the chatroom in order that a young person have the option of choosing to continue a previous conversation with the same treatment provider, or instead, “wiping the board clear” each time.

The chat counselling’s future in project BRUS

BRUS has already some suggestions regarding their chat counselling in the future. Among others, it may be used as a shelter for adolescens who no longer are a part of project BRUS, but still need someone to talk to. This could be done by making adolescens appoint a specific time for a chat or by using the weekly open BRUS chat. Such a shelter could be used for both individual sessions and group sessions. The chat counselling as a shelter could also be used for adolescens who have had to opt out of a physical process at BRUS due to, for example, relocation or a post-school stay. Thus, they could continue their process via chat conversations and have a proper closure.

Please get in touch with Signe Sandfeld Hansen if you would like to know more about BRUS’ use of their chat counselling.

Actively battling fake news

Digital pollution of information and source criticism

The concept of fake news greatly surfaced during the American election in 2016, seeing the spread of concocted stories on social media. Through exposure, and sharing in particular, fake news could quickly reach a great number of people. At home, fake news has also had a strong presence, and DR (Danish Broadcast Corporation), the University of Copenhagen, and research company, Wilke, have focussed on this topic. The latter has recently conducted a survey which showed that 24.4 % of the Danish population has less confidence in Danish media, following a focus on the issue of fake news. Especially young people’s confidence in Danish media has suffered (28 % of 18-29-year-old’s). At CfDP, we are also familiar with the concept, and we meet a number of professionals at our talks who worry about young people’s uncritical approach to sources.

”Teachers and child/youth workers are worried on behalf of their students because information is increasingly gathered from small bubbles on Facebook, and also, there’s speculation in misleading information. This is another aspect, one of many, belonging under the umbrella of digital education,”

says Jonas Ravn, speaker and project manager, CfDP.

How do you spot fake news?

Danish journalist, Erkan Özden, offers his take on ways to spot fake news in his e-book “Fake news.” He is hosting DR’s school project “In the Service of Truth” where he teaches young people about source criticism, credibility and fake news. Also, he conducts talks and workshops about this issue at schools and other institutions of education across the country. With his book, Erkan touches on the issue of how people should ask themselves critical questions before sharing news on Facebook, Snapchat, or other social media. Who is the sender, and do you know the media in question? Does the news look strange, characterised by spelling- and articulative errors or visibly manipulated images? And does it sound a little bit too crazy to be true?

Erkan’s e-book is a well-done and informative piece of material which provides a fine introduction to the phenomena of fake news, and which, by the way, you can download for free.

Fake news on “challenge games” challenges counsellings

Pedagogical consultant Niels-Christian Bilenberg, CfDP, explains that a lot of European online counsellings have dealt with the issue of fake news up close during these past months, especially fake news surrounding the so-called challenge games. Challenge games entail that young people supposedly challenge each other in a sort of “game” where they harm themselves. This fictive phenomena started out as fake news, however, people have taken this as face value and through publicity on social media, the phenomena has become real. It is, however, important to note that the proliferation of the phenomena is estimated to be strongly overrated. These fake news have created significant challenges for the various counsellings across Europe, accommodating a pressure from professionals as well as parents.

Meeting with Facebook regarding fake news and challenge games

There has been a pronounced wish for guidelines of how to deal with fake news. Among others, the Insafe-network has participated in an online meeting with Facebook, discussing challenge games along with how Facebook experiences this problem. “We experienced the largest number of participants so far! This indicates the volume of the problem,” says Niels-Christian Bilenberg. Therefore, he looks forward to creating a united strategy for the fight against the spreading of fake news, particular those related to challenge games.

“I greatly look forward to sharing experiences and knowledge with other helplines that are part of the Insafe-network, so that we may be better equipped to dismantle news on trends that don’t exist at all before they gain momentum in the media, and risk becoming a reality,”

Niels-Christian Bilenberg closes.

Recently, Facebook has launched a system against fake news where you can easily report a post that you suspect to be fake. This post will then be checked by independent collaborators and consequently, be labelled as “approved” or “under suspicion.”

Read more about Insafe: http://cfdp.dk/danish-helpline-part-of-insafe/

What is Insafe?

  • Insafe is a collaboration between 26 European countries.
  • Insafe is coordinated by The European Schoolnet and is co-financed by the European Union via ‘Safer Internet Programme.’
  • Insafe is dedicated to create awareness of internet-safety, and aims to raise awareness with particularly children and young people on how to use the internet positively, safely and effectively.
  • The mission of the network is to empower children and young people throughout Europe to manage themselves online.

Cyberhus is official Danish Helpline

In 2009, Cyberhus was appointed official ‘Helpline’ under the EU-based ‘Safer Internet Plus Programme.’ The appointment establishes Cyberhus as the official Danish participant in this area, and therefore, committing themselves to be available for Danish children, young people, and parents who should inquire about safe internet-use. Under the EU-programme in Denmark, Cyberhus collaborates with The Media Council for Children and Young people which serves as an awareness centre in this field, as well as Save the Children Denmark serving as official ‘Hotline.’ Cyberhus is part of Insafe’s steering committee and participates in planning and developing the professional content at annual conferences.

10 years have passed

By Jonas Ravn, speaker and project manager, CfDP

In 2007, I had completed my studies in Media Studies where people still spent most of their energy researching young people’s television habits and website use. The position at Cyberhus entailed meeting real young people and focussing on their use of communities. Back then, the counselling of Cyberhus experienced an increase of inquiries dealing with the relatively new online communities. Especially Arto was very popular. Arto was Denmark’s biggest website, counting more than 800,000 active profiles, 100 million page views per month, and more than 80,000 people online at a time. Schools started to contact Cyberhus with the desire to teach children good manners, netiquette, and password security. We familiarised ourselves with terms like IRL-guarantee, net-romances and Arto-marriages, and we were on familiar terms with places such as MSN Messenger, Speek, the Ofir chatrooms, NationX, Skum, Habbo, MySpace, and Foursquare.

The coolest continuation school pupils had gotten themselves a Razr v3 from Motorola – an iconic, flat flip phone which most of all was just .. a phone. Others had inherited their parents’ Nokia Brick. Even decently used, the 3310 could hold power for at least a week. And you could play Snake. Win!

This year relaunches the 3310 as a hipster-retro “back-to-nature” phone to those who outlived FOMO, and now have seen the light in JOMO. Most get nostalgic when speaking of Nokia phones, but few can actually see themselves ditching the smartphone and return to the brick. It is so unbelievable how much has happened with our devices in just 10 years, and how much influence they have had on our interaction.

Mostly for the older students

2007 had us talk about netiquette with mostly the older students. We started talking to students in the lower secondary education; however, it soon began to drift down through the cohorts. When Facebook became commonplace between 2008-2011, we started to teach middle school about all the challenges which arose with this platform: There were plenty of hate-pages, like-hunting, and face-rapes.

Along came small waves of other social media which also created challenges in school. Perhaps you remember Formspring and the Chatroulette? In recent years we have talked quite a lot about visual media such as Instagram, Youtube, Musical.ly, and Snapchat. Especially cases of digital violations and the fascination of Youtube as an unedited window to the world are prevalent. 7-year-old Naja Münster has got 160,000 subscribers on Youtube today. It goes without saying that it places great demands on parents, day care centres, and primary school teachers to articulate the culture of visual media. Today, we regularly make presentations in the 3rd grade, and we also make quite a few presentations for parents of the youngest schoolchildren.

The good story

A lot has happened with the development these past 10 years during which our Danish school service has existed. Basically, I am quite optimistic. We (children as well as adults) have become wiser. While it may seem hopeless when reading the press’ stories on young people’s lack of digital education, a lot of areas are less prevalent than have been the case previously. There are basic issues of safety for which parents and schools, to a much greater extent, prepare their children. The early age of onset of mobile phones indeed entails that children are exposed to adult content way too early; however, it also means that they begin an online life while their parents may influence them, gently pushing them in the right direction. It is our experience that schools very much start to employ digital education in their daily processes rather than treating it as an isolated issue. This is so good; and it is an amazingly exciting development to be part of.

Thank you for 10 years of presentations, workshops, and seminars for children and adults 🙂

The non-cadastral club is digital

By Anni Marquard, Head of centre, CfDP

The municipality of Skanderborg wants to meet young people on their home ground

Skanderborg municipality has chosen to strengthen their use of social media as a contemporary form of outreach work where you reach the municipality’s young people to a far greater extent, both due to the effectiveness of the media, and also because young people are met on their own home ground. The latter is the main reason why the municipality of Skanderborg has entered into a collaboration with CfDP on creating an anonymous, digital counselling. SSP coordinator (interdisciplinary collaboration between schools, social authorities, and police, ed.) in Skanderborg municipality, Kristian Kilt, hopes to reach more young people by offering them more choices of counselling.

“For young people, it’s all about being able to choose their preferred tool or platform,” says SSP-coordinator Kristian Kilt.

Today, young people are offered counselling by phone, Messenger, or by physical attendance, however, an opportunity of a 100% anonymous chat is not yet available. So, the idea has been to add another tool to DMK’s toolbox by offering young people anonymous chat counselling through Cyberhus.

CfDP and Skanderborg both win

This past year, Cyberhus has had 4,771 visitors from the municipality of Skanderborg, 70,2% being girls. This also constitutes a good reason for forming a collaboration because Skanderborg is especially challenged when it comes to reaching vulnerable girls.

“Some of the material we see from Cyberhus, and some of the statistics that have been the basis of our application, indicate that particularly these girls use digital chat-tools when they seek counselling,” SSP-coordinator Kristian Kilt explains.

According to Kristian Kilt, the municipality of Skanderborg has greatly enjoyed being able to lean on a socio-economic organisation and a piece of successful volunteering (Cyberhus), which they would like strengthen further. Herby, they hope that their collaboration with CfDP will be a success for both parties, where CfDP, in addition to developing on its own collaborative methods, is also able to provide Skanderborg access to a large number of young people, especially girls who have a hard time. Meanwhile, the municipality of Skanderborg can help Cyberhus concretise its counselling and carry young people onwards through the system from the voluntary anonymous chat of Cyberhus.

The municipality of Skanderborg is optimistic about their chat counselling on a digital platform, while being excited to see the scale of young people they will be able to reach. Later in the process, the municipality will evaluate their experiences and communicate them to other municipalities throughout Denmark through a methodological handbook in collaboration with CfDP.

Read more about our municipal collaborations.

This project is supported by:

Suppprted by the Velux Foundation
The future of digital badging

By Signe Sandfeld Hansen, M.Sc. in Psychology and counsellor, CfDP

It is not always easy to find a job. It can be particularly challenging if you are a vulnerable person who cannot see your own qualities. The recently completed Skills Connect project primarily aimed to offer youth between the ages of 16-25 a practical opportunity to verbalise their problem-solving skills, and secondarily to identify the assistance they are able to provide to other young people online, for example on our youth counselling, Cyberhus.dk. This resulted in the development of 2 digital badging courses; “Problem-Solver” and “Super-Helper.”

Back in 2015, when the project started, digital badging was still a relatively unknown concept in Denmark, however, finding ourselves in a digital age, badging has become more accessible, more versatile, and it has become an effective measure to help young people develop skills; for instance, skills necessary for finding a job. Furthermore, it could be assumed that the digitisation of learning and the use of elements from gamification is a relevant and effective approach to engage young people. This applies both to the development of young people’s skills as well as the process of learning more about themselves.

What did we learn?

Through the process of developing and diffusing our badging courses, we have seen a need for more accredited digital badging for young people in order to bridge the gap between what young people have to offer and what an employer is looking for. Accreditation through recognised organisations, sponsoring a digital badging course, would be the most effective way to encourage young people to involve themselves with digital badging, while ensuring the credibility of the badge to potential employers.

We know that young people find it useful to complete a digital badging course. However, we are also aware that a broader recognition of these and other digital badging courses is a key to further improve young people’s employability. We know that we can help young people understand the skills they have acquired and give them the tools to demonstrate this to an employer in a valuable way, and we are proud to be part of taking the first steps towards a more widespread knowledge of badging in Denmark.

Click to learn more about “Problem-Solver” and “Super-Helper”!

Social reality – creating digital tools and games for young people with cognitive disabilities

By Danish Safer Internet Centre

The objective of the project is to empower children and young people with cognitive disabilities in their use of social media in order to include them in online social communities and avoid exclusion. Furthermore, it aims to provide pedagogues with knowledge and tools to teach the target group about tolerance, respect and ethics in online communities, for example, through activities concerning control of impulses.

Workshops

During autumn 2016, 20 workshops were carried out in leisure clubs and schools for pupils with cognitive disabilities. Inspired by a talk with a young project ambassador diagnosed with ADHD (20-year-old male blogger @ADHD Mikkel), the group of young people took an active role in discussions about the difficulties of being online. Themes for the discussions were online language and, in particular, hate speech, like-hunting and recognition, nude images and provocative actions on social media, and faking or adversely exploiting the advances of being anonymous online. Young people with cognitive disabilities often feel frustrated when being repeatedly misunderstood due to their struggle with reading and remembering the social codes, and difficulties in perceiving their own and other people’s personal limits.

The second part of the workshop dealt with emoji-trolls versus emoji-heroes and the participants’ understanding of negative online behaviour opposed to keeping up a good approach on social media and in online games. Based on supplied templates (.pdf), the participants created their images of emoji-trolls and emoji-heroes, followed by their reflections on these two categories of online presence to camera – see the resulting videos here (the commentary is in Danish, although the illustrations alone impart the participant’s views).

Online test and toolbox

An online test, being developed as part of the project, will have a social-media-style interface taking inspiration from gaming, and using the emoji-trolls and emoji-heroes as the main characters. When testing themselves in different online situations, users will get immediate feedback on their actions and, after completion, can repeat the test to see how different responses produce different outcomes.

The online toolbox for pedagogues will be developed in collaboration with pedagogues from the participating leisure clubs. The toolbox will contain information about children’s and young people’s general use of online media and, especially, social media. It will provide pedagogues with knowledge about challenges specific to certain target groups, and will also outline opportunities in relation to positive online communities. The toolbox will also suggest a series of activities with children and young people that help to develop coping strategies in relation to communication in online communities.

A significant part of the project is to create a booklet with information about how and why it is crucial to focus on social media, online gaming and communication in online communities in the daily work with children and young people with cognitive disabilities.

Further updates on the project will follow in due course.

Find out more about the work of the Danish Safer Internet Centre, including its awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services.

Experienced counsellors on new digital ground

By Sonya Spender, communicator, CfDP

It is morning. Outside the wind is blowing, and the trees are shaking, however, at Spanien 19, Centre for Digital Youth Care welcome attendees with coffee and baked rolls. The counsellors are from various municipalities, and they all participate in the project of BRUS, a conversational service for children and young people from families suffering from substance related problems.

See website projektbrus.dk (Danish).

We slowly start the day while the remaining participants slip inside the room, and others finish chewing. Today, employees of project BRUS are introduced to their upcoming digital counselling tool; the chat room. Digital head coordinator of Cyberhus youth counselling, Niels-Christian Bilenberg of CfDP, begins by sharing his own experiences as a chat counsellor, and challenges that may arise along the way; challenges such as the lack of body language and accentuation, misunderstandings, the time it takes to articulate something in writing, avoiding words like “these”, and users suddenly logging off. Today, employees will participate in two workshops, including exploring digital counselling for themselves in a trial chat-session.

It’s a bit like doing a puzzle

You are welcome to each come up with a problem that you would like to inquire about,” Niels-Christian says. Participants must take turns acting as a chat counsellor as well as the user, so they have a better understanding of the two different perspectives. Before this, everyone receives a versatile tour of the digital counsellor’s toolbox:

”You meet a lot of different types of children and young people, some go straight to the point while others may just want to talk a for a bit,” Niels-Christian explains, and continues: “So, you should ask about the young person, be caring and curious, but at the same time, give him or her space. As such, chatting may be slightly compared with a puzzle where you need to collect all the pieces in order to form an image of the user.”

Niels-Christian also emphasises that chatting is not for everyone. Chatting is not the same as a physical conversation, and demands a particular approach and understanding. Using chat is a conscious choice, not for a lack of better.

Here, take the wheel, now you are in control!

The presentation is followed by a short break. Participants get to exchange thoughts before the situation-training starts, and time has come to explore the trial chat. They distribute themselves at the tables, there is chatter in the air while CfDP’s consultants help everyone get started. The counsellors each open their chat room and “young people” start ticking in. The curious faces now look concentrated.

The silence ends abruptly: “Hey, I accidentally wrote “these”!”, a participant exclaims. “Remember, use spoken language, and try to read the young person’s mental age,” says Niels-Christian directed at the assembly. There is laughter at the tables, and the new counsellors express that it is not entirely easy to comply with the instructions given by Niels-Christian.

You also have to be aware of the young person’s use of smileys, block letters – and how about the use of profanity? “May I swear if it comes to me naturally? Something like, Damnm, I sure do understand where you’re coming from,” a participant asks. “This all depends on the user, this is difficult to assess in the beginning. Some young people use a more formal tone with adults, that is, they don’t talk to their friends that way,” explains Niels-Christian. A participant notices that you probably have to be careful not to conclude something too quickly based on what the user is writing, and that it is better to be more inquiring in order not to misunderstand the user.

How about exclamations marks and things like that?,” someone asks the person sitting next to them. “I believe that would be ok,” another participant replies. People are typing and sparring at the tables, and eventually there is more flow in the situation-training.

Ethics and guidelines

After lunch, participants switch roles and a new team of “young people” log on the trial chat. Afterwards, people discuss the workshop. Several people agree that one minute is a surprisingly long time when you are young and have sent a message. “You feel very vulnerable,” someone says. Also, it is frustrating, as a user, being asked about your aim of the conversation. “I didn’t know what I wanted!,” one of the other “users” says. Others believe that the trial chat lacked spoken language since some of the counsellors spoke a bit harsh, and some felt understood and appreciated to an extent that it became too much. All agree that it would be a good idea to, in advance, give the user the opportunity to say yes/no if the counsellor is sidetracking.

The situation-training shows where there is place for improvement, and with that in mind, the day continues with a new workshop. The counsellors discuss ethical dilemmas in small groups, and the subject most prevalent with the participants is the topic of what to do if you “recognise” one of the anonymous young people in the chat room. This results in a lengthy discussion: Should counsellors state their real first name in the chat room so that young people may figure out who they are chatting to, or should counsellors maintain their anonymity and only reveal their identity if the counsellor recognises the user? No final conclusion is made, however, all agree that it is an important issue to be aware of in the upcoming work of project BRUS.

The equally excited and weary participants leave with new knowledge and practical tools which they may use in their chat counselling in the future. They have taken the first important steps toward succeeding with their digital work with young people.

Chat in the municipality of Copenhagen – looking back on 2016

By Sonya Spender, communicator, CfDP

2016 in numbers

These statistics are based upon 170 conversations. Counting 70,6 % of all inquiries, girls are still the group of users who dominate the chat room. Age wise, 15-17-year-old’s use the chat counselling the most, constituting 35,9 % of the overall statistics. Conversational topics range widely: Most inquiries concern sexuality and sex (18,8 %), but sexual assault is also a prominent topic (16,1%). Next, we find love, including falling in love and heartaches (16,1 %), and familiy/parents (12,5 %). In addition to sexual abuse, there has been quite a few conversations about incest (8 %), self-harm (7,1 %), and thoughts of suicide (5,4 %).

Chat counselling works well in close collaboration with other services

During 2016, the chat counselling of the municipality of Copenhagen has referred 30,2 % of their users to parents or another adult, 20,9 % to teachers, 16,3 % to doctors, and 14 % to other family members. Counsellors also make frequent use of other online services when making referrals; for example, they referred 23,1 % of their users to the Danish Children’s Helpline (Children’s Rights), 23,1 % to voluntary initiatives on Cyberhus.dk, and 15,4% to the Sex Helpline. Also, Plexus, Ventilen (The Valve), and the local “24-hour-service” are used occasionally.

Johnny Szumlanski explains that typically, they refer young people to other places in the municipality of Copenhagen:

”We’re able to be much more specific than those who need to cater to young people nationwide. We’ve got much more knowledge about what is happening locally, including e.g. small projects or groups, or other new initiatives that have not yet been widely renowned.”

The municipality of Copenhagen has been working closely with Copenhagen’s social 24-hour-service which provides an added advantage. The 24-hour-service is a service available in all municipalities that handles social acute cases concerning children and young people. The social 24-hour-service in Copenhagen has already assisted Copenhagen’s chat counselling with help and advice concerning several of their severe acute cases.

“It’s really exciting to work with players of a completely different muscle strength relative to the aid we are normally able to provide. For instance, we’re able to say to someone: Join me at the 24-hour-service, or come by taxi, we’ll pay for it. Or should I come pick you up? For example, if the issue at hand is severe,” Johnny Szumlanski explains.

An increase of issues concerning violence, alcohol, rape, and assault

2016 has not been a year of any significant increase of the overall number of inquiries to Copenhagen’s chat counselling, perhaps because of a lack of PR for the counselling. Most young people have entered through Cyberhus.dk. However, there has been an increase of the number of severe issues such as violence, drinking, rape, incest, and assaults which may indicate that users have become more confident in the local chat counselling of the municipality of Copenhagen. Johnny Szumlanski elaborates:

”They (inquiries, ed.) usually don’t reach us. Sometimes, but not as much as we’ve experienced during this one year. Usually, other adults are made aware who alert their surroundings.”

The increased number of conversations dealing with severe issues has to do with the fact that the chat room ensures anonymity. There are not necessarily more cases of sexual abuse, however, chat counselling may be made aware of more cases. As such, chat counselling contributes to the awareness of more cases of sexual abuse, and thus, provides the opportunity to stop such cases quicker.

Anonymity saves time and streamlines counselling

At Cyberhus, it is our general impression that users would like to be as anonymous as possible. The vast majority do not wish to inform about their residence, whether they are already in contact with a professional, or whether they have previously used the chat room. This is something Johnny Szumlanski recognises from the chat counselling of Copenhagen’s municipality. Szumlanski explains that users often ask whether this is completely anonymous, and whether or not the chat counsellors really cannot see them:

”Anonymity plays an important role. Young people are quicker to open up, and issues are often ‘resolved’ within 5-10 minutes.”

According to Johnny, 2-3 meetings in their physical counselling have often been necessary before a young person has had the courage to “open up.”

“Chatting can save time because a lot of users go straight to the point, which results in less resources or man hours spent on any individual,” Szumlanski elaborates. “You reach the crux of the matter quicker, and also, young people are making inquiries far sooner. Many of our users have not shared their issues with other adults. Therefore, we are often their first contact,” Johnny Szumlanski explains.

See more reflections from the counselling of Copenhagen’s municipality following this link.

Cyberhus 2016 – news and trends

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%.

A group for gamers

By Christian Mogensen, speaker and project manager, CfDP

Electronic empowerment

We started out with three young people. Initially, the idea was to offer a carrot in order to involve them with everyday life at Aarhus Youth Centre. Computer gaming and spending time with Thoke and myself, were meant to make the services of Aarhus Youth Centre more attractive. Very quickly, though, it made sense to reverse the issue of a worrying consumption of gaming: The games were not the reason that things were bad at school or at home; they were symptoms hereof. We met a group of young people who would love to be social as well as involved, but for different reasons, they were not capable or had the courage to do so. So, they embraced gaming – an arena custom-made to provide an appropriate amount of responsibility, resistance, support, feedback, and a pat on the back.

Computer games are not designed to be fun – they are designed for people to succeed in

This way, computer games are incredible – when your turn on your console at home, you are suddenly the guy who kisses the princess, kills the dragon, or saves the world. This is a healthy experience – young as well as old – if you are able to translate your empowerment to the rest of your life, too. When we reversed our equation, the otherwise unsolvable knot began to loosen: There was a common ground for communication and learning, which had previously been invisible – suddenly, people would talk about modern neuroscience, legislation and contemporary history for a full 60 minutes, and as if by magic, our young people had their minds and hearts involved with the project – and with themselves. We made an effort to meet our young people where they, in fact, were – rather than where we would like them to be.

Through support from, among others, supervising psychologists and interested colleagues, the project and its target frame was developed. Several of our young people got involved with school and family again, and all met social objectives seen with the eyes of both parents, professionals, and themselves.

Municipal collaboration

Today, the project is anchored in Aarhus Youth Centre of Aarhus municipality and Centre for Digital Youth Care; a united multidisciplinary and personnel effort is undertaken across all the diagnoses, issues, challenges, and personalities present in the group. Our latest big project was to furnish and decorate the very nice rooms made available by Aarhus Youth Centre with sharks, waves, and all sorts of maritime elements – matching our purchased computers from Shark Gaming. Young people showed up far more times a week than the project was scheduled for – not in order to play computer games – but for the purpose of painting, working, helping, and being together on their project.

Aarhus municipality as a whole, along with a great many related employees, have been invaluable for the project to reach the degree of stability and professional capacity present today; administrative employees who have assisted in finding the correct paragraphs and shortcuts in gnarled regulations, and staff whose great knowledge on the pedagogical and psychological field could be combined with CfDP’s experience and know-how on digital pedagogy and digital identity, making it possible to meet young people on their grounds.

The journey has cost many night hours managing project descriptions, fund applications, grants, objectives and thoughts – but now, we are left with more than 10 young people in our gaming group, several people on our waiting list, and an incredible daily life with wonderful, social and dedicated young people, who have acquired a language for their hobby and an understanding of how it can either be a springboard to the rooms of their peers – or a step further to a career as an eSports athlete – or a presenter specialising in computer games…

Currently, Aarhus Youth Centre and Centre for Digital Youth Care, are evaluating and systemising the long process leading to the successful “UC Gaming” group, so that we may help other municipalities establish similar services in early 2017.

Gaming is not (just) for fun!

By Christian Mogensen, speaker and project manager, CfDP

The accumulative hours spent in front of the screen

If we argue that videogames are not designed to be fun but rather to give a player the sensation of being able, and being something, we quickly shift our understanding of gaming from being indifferent pastime to being something that could meet some basic human needs: We open up to the idea that capability, mastering, ownership, self-worth, co-operation, and several other important aspects of human well-being may exist in the digital spheres of young people. Possibly in light-versions, but if you find yourself in a tumultuous teenage room, it can be extremely enticing to have your needs fulfilled in online-arenas as opposed to the schoolyard – being online, you are in charge of rules, the volume, formats, and connections. This can give some young people a sense of calm and being in touch with the pace, which can be healthy and may help them grow themselves into healthy and happy people. So, it is important that we, as professionals, take the modern computer gamer or nerd seriously, even when the hours accumulating in front of the screen become more than we deem appropriate.

Working with the computer-playing generation, obviously the games should not play a heroin-like role which allocates the user in an addictive relationship. As a young person, one can become so accustomed to direct their attention toward the screen in order to meet some of their daily needs, which may start a vicious circle where gaming becomes more than its intended purpose: Incredible entertainment, best enjoyed in the company of peers and new friends.

As professionals it is important that we are ready to navigate in the debate still risen by computer games; both whether one may get violent or nonsocial by managing virtual wars, but also whether one languishes as a human being from spending time in front of the screen.

Dragons and Digital Education

Computer games become increasingly more predominant in young people’s lives – boys as well as girls – and for better or worse. Players are able to kill dragons, save the world, and free a village every night – often with their friends. Players are also at risk of cooping up behind myriads of new, wild universes they can log into. As adults, it is important that we continue to look beyond a certain age rating sticker on a given game and, instead, allow importance for digital education in the world of gaming, as well. When you turn on your computer, you do not cease to be human – even though you interact digitally with others, it is still yourself who is in play. As professionals, it is therefore important that we are able to decipher the jargon of players and are bold enough to accompany them into their gaming worlds. – Sometimes, those are the places where they need us the most.

These are some of the reasons why Centre for Digital Youth Care is going to offer, among others:

  • Presentations on gaming for parents: How much is TOO much? Are violent games harmful? Can you become addicted? Is it social to play?
  • Presentations on gaming for young people: How do you balance gaming, school, family, and spare time? Can you get addicted to gaming? What are the warning signals for “addiction”? What games are “good” games? How do you become a good gamer?
  • Presentations on eSport: Introduction to the eSports community for professionals as well as an introduction to how you turn computer games into a sport of diet plans, training schedules, and strategy meetings – and how you attract younger teens into a pro-social and academically founded eSporting-environment.
  • Combining our presentations on Digital Education, Social Media, and Net ethics with our knowledge of gaming, players, and gaming culture.
Digital presence

By Pernille Nymann Højlund, MA (Ed) in Educational Psychology and project worker with the counselling team at CfDP.

Presence at a distance

Since 2004, Centre for Digital Youth Care has offered youth counselling by chat, and is thus based on the fact that the counsellor / youth interaction takes place at a distance. Within a pedagogical context one may assume that closeness is a prerequisite to presence. In this regard, as a chat counsellor, I would like to give my perspective on what presence may look like when the physical closeness is removed from the equation.

It is quiet on the other side of the screen. After a couple of minutes, she sends a sad smiley with a tear dropping down its chin.

Our counselling is anonymous and takes place online. So, I have only the written word and affective symbols to relate to when doing counselling. Young people use smileys as a means of communication to explain how they feel. As a counsellor, I am unable to read facial expressions, tone of voice and/or sensory perceptions, and so, a sharpened attention arises in order to understand and read the user behind the screen.

The young girl adds that she has been really sad for a long time. “That sounds difficult,” I reply and add, “I’m wondering if something has happened which makes you sad?” She tells me that she has a hard time at school and feels lonely. She has written quite a lot, and therefore it takes some time for me to read and reflect on how I may reply best possible. So I write: “If it takes a while before I reply, it’s because I’m reading what you have written.”

My presence requires that I describe what I am doing, to a much greater extent. Else, my lack of response could potentially be interpreted as a lack of presence. My presence also calls for listening actively, paying undivided attention to the young person on the other side of the screen, and being open, caring and interested. In this setting, I believe that presence is determined more by the presence of such factors as opposed to the counsellor’s physical presence/location. We may speak of a digital, distance-carried presence which opens up to an expansion of the traditional understanding of presence that perhaps, in return, sets the stage for physical presence.

To be where it hurts

Counselling children and young people requires, I believe, a presence where you are bold enough to go where it hurts – and stay there. Daring to be in a place where things are difficult, and meeting the user where they are. In a time where documentation, measurability, and hard quantitative data is highly prioritised, it is of utmost importance that the quality, and sense of presence, of each consultative conversation are not reduced to numbers and charts, and knowing that behind these numbers, we deal with quite unique conversations with quite unique young people.

After an hour, she suddenly logs off. This may be due to a number of reasons. Perhaps the connection was poor? Or perhaps she was interrupted by a parent returning home? I will never know. But if she left with an experience of a present counsellor, and feeling recognised, respected, and being helped one step further, my task has been successful. I hope so.

I lean back in my chair and reflect on our chat conversation, and wonder why she logged off. Next, I clear my head by sharing my thoughts with another counsellor. After a little while, I am ready for a new conversation. I open up a new chatroom. A couple of minutes pass. Bliiing.

MitAssist (MyAssist): When a counselling service for boys is working

By Ida Ahlmann Østergaard, project worker, CfDP

We have succeeded in attracting the boys

On our project day, pedagogical consultant with Centre for Digital Youth Care, Niels-Christian Bilenberg, was able to reveal that we have succeeded in encouraging boys to seek help on MitAssist.dk. Following one year’s history of MitAssist.dk, boys count for 88% (equalling 314 boys) of the site’s users , while girls only count for 12% (equalling 44 girls) of the site’s users. At the same time, this means that the number of boys, during our first year, has already exceeded our target for the entire project period (spring 2015 – autumn 2017) with 200 boys.

The first year (1 November 2015 – 31 October 2016), users asked 237 questions, of which 215 questions were asked by boys, and 22 questions were asked by girls. These numbers are untypical to online youth counselling where usually girls are strongly overrepresented among users. The reason we have managed to draw in boys is, among others, due to the fact that MitAssist is built on gamification which is an element that particularly appeals to young boys.

Coach – definitely not a counsellor!

The concept of gamification on MitAssist.dk is expressed by the fact that a counsellor is called a coach, and help is called an assist. These expressions – to boys – are well-known expressions from the world of gaming, a world that do not readily remind them of the type of traditional (online) counselling which they may not feel like visiting. That is, focus should deter somewhat from the idea of needing help.

“Had we named the site BoyTalk (a site of the name GirlTalk exists, Ed.), it wouldn’t work – that would scare the boys away. Instead, we have created a universe, which by help of expressions from the gaming world, appeals to boys,” explains Niels-Christian Bilenberg.

However, Niels-Christian Bilenberg also states that they know they are not able to target all boys by MitAssist:

“We cannot create a site for every boy out there. As in, you cannot create a youth counselling for all young people out there. So, we may not reach all boys but if we reach boys who don’t feel like using Cyberhus.dk or TUBA.dk, then we have made good progress,” says Niels-Christian Bilenberg.

MitAssist.dk has a dual function

From interviews and questionnaires, evaluation consultant with Ineva, Amalie Agerbæk, explained it could be concluded that boys use MitAssist.dk for two purposes; receiving help, but also providing help to others. A boy, 16, confirmed this in an interview, when he was asked about how MitAssist could be useful:

“Having your problems solved by people who have some experience. And the other thing is being able to help others. Giving advice to others if you’ve tried something they ask about. I think it’s nice to help others. Bad experiences can be used to help others – so, in a way something good comes out of your own, perhaps, bad experiences. Or good ones, too.”

Amalie Agerbæk explained that it is of great value to the boys to be able to help each other, which also means that there is rarely unanswered questions on MitAssist. 70% of questions asked are relatively “lightweight” problems such as being in love, heartaches, jealousy, or loneliness. 15% of questions asked belong to the more heavy category, and may for instance deal with self-harm, addiction, or abuse.

MitAssist.dk provides a framework for a community

According to Niels-Christian Bilenberg, it is rarely necessary for coaches to interfere with the assists young people hand each other:

“We experience a great deal of caring and high quality when users help each other. As regards to content, young people’s answers are just as good those given by coaches. So, we rarely find it necessary to interfere. We let our young people reply to each other’s questions – this is of far more value when we do not interfere,” Bilenberg says.

So, an online community has been established where boys greatly seek assists from other boys.

“We thought we were going to be a counselling, however, we became a community. The community is the cornerstone of MitAssist.dk. People support each other. You can be both passive or active. You can receive and give,” says Camilla Rode Jensen, project coordinator with MitAssist.dk.

Future challenges: What about the girls?

On our project day, we also discussed future challenges. One of them being how to make sure that MitAssist.dk stays a counselling site for boys. Because girls are also users of MitAssist, and although the number of girls is not all that high, it is increasing, according to Niels-Christian Bilenberg:

“We have only few girls on MitAssist, but the number is increasing, so how would this develop in five years time? This is something we are very attentive to.”

During this past year, 552 assists have been given on MitAssist.dk; boys have given 370 assists, girls have given 112 assists, and coaches have given 70 assists. So, the girls are relatively active compared to their number when it comes to giving assists. According to Bilenberg, these assists are really good and constructive, and so, it is not a problem that girls are present on MitAssist.dk. However, it would be a problem if the number of girls becomes too big, because this would mean that the boys may withdraw:

“It is clear that something else happens if a lot of girls are present. If the boys have time and space, they reply just as well to questions as girls would have. However, if the girls are quicker and have said what needed to be said, then boys hold back. And there must be room for boys, and we do focus on boys with MitAssist. If too many girls use MitAssist, boys don’t enter. Then they refrain from asking questions,” Bilenberg explains.

Facts about MitAssist.dk

The project is supported by the Velux foundation and will run until the end of 2017. Hereafter, we hope that MitAssist.dk will be of such value to both boys and the municipal youth counsellings in Denmark that the online counselling platform of MitAssist.dk may continue.

This project is supported by:

Suppprted by the Velux Foundation
Why bring the municipal youth counselling online?

By Ida Ahlmann Østergaard, project worker, CfDP

Young people from the municipalities of Halsnæs and Odder will now, extremely quickly, be able to be referred to counsellors from their own municipality when they seek help on Cyberhus.dk. Young people from the municipalities of Copenhagen, Ringkøbing-Skjern, and Aarhus have been able to do so for a while. A total of five municipalities have thus brought their youth counselling online, and more municipalities will follow. But why bring the municipal youth counselling online?

Faster and better help

Anni Marquard, initiator and Head of Centre at Centre for Digital Youth Care, explains that the single most important thing about their collaboration is the fact that shortcuts are created for the counsellors in each of their municipality. Hereby, we ensure that children and young people who need extra help, receive more accurate help, faster:

“It is much easier and quicker to refer someone to a municipality who collaborates with Cyberhus.dk and thus, ensure that they receive proper help,” says Anni Marquard.

Young people, from municipalities across Denmark, may write in and receive counselling on Cyberhus.dk. In some cases, someone may need extra help, and in such instances it is a great advantage if a counsellor is able to refer that person directly to a municipal chat counselling where they are able to chat to a counsellor from their own municipality. Local municipal counsellors are better equipped to help because they know which specific services and opportunities are available in someone’s municipality.

Online counselling must establish contact with young people

Ane Justensen, SSP-consultant (interdisciplinary collaboration between schools, social authorities, and police) with Odder municipality explains that this municipality finds it difficult to get young people to use their open, anonymous counselling in its present form; despite the fact that they assess this is a target group which would actually like to use anonymous counselling. So, Ane Justensen hopes that by bringing their chat counselling online, they will have more young people use their open, anonymous chat counselling:

“Young people do not enter our open, anonymous counselling. They do not come here, and knock on the door and share with us if they feel bad. It is my hope that they will feel more inclined to seek help if they are able to do so online, says Ane Justensen.

The portal of the municipalities with whom we collaborate, will be located on Cyberhus.dk which is already a well-established and popular online counselling platform, and this increases the chances that a young person realises that a local online counselling exists.

Having a total of five municipalities online on Cyberhus.dk, is another great advantage according to Ane Justensen:

“Also, it is a great advantage to become part of a municipal network, hosting a great deal of knowledge, because things have already been implemented in other municipalities. A lot of knowledge sharing takes place which is of great value to us,” says Ane Justensen.

Prevention and skills upgrading

The municipality of Halsnæs would like to do prevention and skills upgrading which is a few of the reasons why they have entered their municipal collaboration with Cyberhus.dk:

“We very much try to focus on prevention, and generally it is a great priority to us to qualify our employees, so that they have the tools needed to handle tasks in demand. Besides, we know that young people from the municipality of Halsnæs do use Cyberhus.dk’s chat counselling, so it makes sense indeed that we, too, bring our counselling online on Cyberhus.dk,” says Martin Bannow, SSP-coordinator with the municipality of Halsnæs.

The municipalities of both Odder and Halsnæs have participated in a start-up training course, being introduced to the concept of providing online counselling, and they will be online on Cyberhus.dk from 1 December.

Would you like to become part of our collaboration?

If you and your municipality would like to become part of our collaboration, become more visible to your local young people, and develop Denmark’s youth counselling, please contact Anni Marquard @ anni@cfdp.dk, or tel.: + 50 50 24 13.
 
This project is supported by:

Suppprted by the Velux Foundation
Learning and reflection

By Signe Sandfeld Hansen, M.Sc. in Psychology and counsellor, CfDP

Sanne is 21 years old. She found it quite difficult to keep up at school, so she dropped out. Sanne suffers from a depression but is in recovery. When she goes through hard days, she lacks patience, and even small problems may seem unmanageable. Sanne notices a Facebook ad for Cyberhus Courses, and she is curious. Previously, she has paid visits to Cyberhus.dk’s chat services.

Sanne navigates to Cyberhus Courses and creates a user profile. She starts out with the course “Super Helper”, because the amount of 20 minutes it takes to complete this course seems manageable to her. She learns that there are numerous different types of help/assistance, and when she gives it some thought, she does realise that she, in fact, contributes to making a difference for other young people.

A couple of days later, she embarks on the first module of the course “Problem Solver.” This course teaches her about her own personality, and also, that her own experiences have value. One week later, she completes the last module of the Problem solving course, and she learns about different tools which she is able to utilise in her work – especially in situations where she starts losing her patience.

Perspectives on skills

Sanne is an example of one our many vulnerable young people who we meet on a daily basis in our youth counselling, Cyberhus.dk. It may be young people who do not thrive in school, someone who has a hard time academically, or someone who does not have anyone with whom they can talk. They may also be really good at giving others a helping hand, or planning an activity, however, failing to see this as a strength. With Cyberhus Courses, we try to give (vulnerable) youth an opportunity to receive a certificate documenting skills which they already utilise in their daily lives.

Users have, among others, replied the following in our evaluation:

Question on Problem Solver: Do you feel better equipped to solve problems?

“Yes, I do. Especially because you get an insight into the fact that different types of personalities react differently. And given that I also am a certain type – receiving an explanation why, sometimes, I act as I do, and what could be a more appropriate way to act.”

Question on Super Helper: Do you feel that you have a better understanding of how someone may help others?

“Yes. The thing about getting an understanding that you can help others online, on Cyberhus. That commenting and liking something may help others, and the fact that sharing something from your own life may also be of help to others.

Question on Diploma: Will you use your diploma in your job application?

“Yes. Then I’m able to show that I have a handle on this. Both in relation to helping others, but also, now I have some tools for solving problems.”

Would you like to know more about the project of Cyberhus Courses, please contact Signe Sandfeld Hansen @ signe@cyberhus.dk.

Instagram og Musical.ly: Help young people adjust their settings

By Jonas Ravn, speaker and project manager, CfDP

New feature on Instagram empowers children’s control

Instagram is one of the most used social platforms among children and young people today. As early as the 4th grade, this image -and video sharing service is widely popular. And it is understandable. Using Instagram, we are able to share our great moments as well as reflect ourselves in other people’s moments. Unfortunately, Instagram is also a place where young people experience receiving very brutal comments directed at their pictures or videos. So, the founders of the company have now introduced an option of filtering words in comments. Although this is not the solution to every problem in the world, it is a step in the right direction because it empowers the child’s sense of control and ownership of their profile.

Filtering of words

As a parent, it is a good idea to help young Instagram-debutants to set up a basic protection of privacy. For instance, by making the account private. However, you can also do a filtering on words – for example, in the case that you (or your child) periodically experience receiving negative comments containing particular expressions or certain words.

A mantra from our school visits with Centre for Digital Youth Care says that you should not voluntarily participate in your own vituperation. One way to protect yourself is using the option of removing the display of comments containing certain words. Specifically, you go to your ‘settings’ and look up the menu item ‘comments.’

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You can ask Instagram to remove “known inappropriate words”. In addition, you can remove words that are particularly troublesome to your child. Imagine that your daughter, against her will, is called Cry-baby or some other disparagingly phrase. Then you will be able add these words to your list of filtered words.

There is an upper limit to everything, and a lot of different ways (and words) may be used if someone intends to bother you. However, it is important that we, as parents and professionals, teach our young people about the options that do exist when creating control and sending some clear signals about what you, as an individual, can accept.

Musical.ly

The app Musical.ly unites the world of music and social media – and it is a ton of fun. Using Musical.ly you can do 15 seconds videos where you sing, ‘lip-sync’ or dance. As a parent, it would be a good idea to familiarise yourself with the degree of disclosure of which your child’s video’s are part.

All the positive stuff:

  • Among other things, you can do a duet with a friend (many 12-13-year-old Danish girls do so).
  • You can do something fun with your family, perhaps even some parents would like to join!
  • It fosters children’s creativity.
  • You can sing together and have fun creating something.
  • It is easy and intuitive to make your own videos.
  • You can regulate whether or not others are able to send you messages directly.
  • You can hide your city, and thus not be able to see others in the immediate environment (relevant to children’s safety).
  • The movie commentary tracks says “Say something nice”, and generally, it is my impression that children, who comment, intend well and use a lot of positive smileys.
  • Generally, Musical.ly is a good introduction to a world of social media such as Youtube and others, because the content is defined.


What you should consider, as a parent:

screenshot_20161109-112650

  • Adults as well as children use the Musical.ly app, and parents must be aware of that – it is not just for children (pertaining to inappropriate contact)
  • The child may choose to share their content on other social media using Musical.ly.
  • You cannot filter what others post although reasons may arise for blocking/reporting the behavior of certain users.
  • The content of available songs has an adult vocabulary and themes which may not necessarily address children below the age of 13.
  • You can put hashtags below each video which may lead to other videos not relevant for certain age groups.
  • Children as young as 5 years of age imitate pop stars who wear provocative clothes and who have a sexual appearance. This is not necessarily a problem; however, you should be attentive to the mirroring that takes place. The most popular and viewed videos are often movie-clips of stereotypical and pretty, (very) young tweens.
  • Livestreaming is an option. Consider whether to insist on watching your child’s video before it is streamed.
  • Teach your child that customary ethics also applies here. Nice tone, be positive, be supportive, ask someone permission before you film them, and so on.
  • Remember the very important settings of privacy and location; shown on the right-hand picture.

 

First hand account from the class room

By Linda Karen Sørensen, stud. MA (Ed), and speaker, CfDP (former 10th grade teacher)

My meetings with young people on my school visits have only confirmed my believe that they are very informed about the digital field through informal use, being a well-integrated part of their youth and everyday lives. My experience is that young people, far down the road, are really good at navigating across faceless mosaics of social media. Together, they create social norms within the enviroments of which they take part, and they would like to look after each other in trusting friendships.

Young people are ashamed of negative attention from adults

A lot of young people articulate how they distance themselves from abusive and destructive behaviour on social media. I have heard so many young people state that they are ashamed of all the negative attention directed at their use of social media. They also express that they do not want to represent specific groups which display negative and abuse behaviour on eg. Snapchat and Facebook. Others have expressed insecurity and fear in relation to eg. not being able to decipher what “the correct behaviour” should be among their groups of friends on social media. They are afraid of opposing the majority. These are all nuances which paint a picture of what it is like to be a teenager in today’s society, and also how complex and often paradoxical the digital educational work is. At the same time, this is exactly what makes it so very interesting and important.

We have to grab on to the informal learning!

We are all co-creators of social media, and in a way sub-consciously dependent hereof, and at the same time we try to liberate ourselves and our young people from these same media. Right inbetween, we meet our most important peagogical work and the opportunity for digital education. Our keyword must be reflection. We must grab and use that which young people have informally learned, and give them the opportunity to extract quality and value from their informal learning, enriching them in their lives, through dialogue and debate. Social media hold vast resources and opportunities for a young person in the 21st century. Interacting on social media creates opportunities for young people to recognise that it is not just “me in the world” but it is “us”, among others, in the world. This is extremely important to the educational work of the school.

Turn on your curiosity, but give room

Social media today has great value to the relationsips that young people enter into across friends, family, and school. Like everything else, young people also meet challenges on social media. Sort of a downside, if you will. As adults and professionals, we must be bold and face such downside. We must be capable to enter into dialogue with our young people, and keep the door open for conversations that are not always easy. The task for adults working and interacting with young people, must be to turn on our curiosity, reflections, and the desire to understand. This is a balance which also entails giving room for young people to live their own teenage lives, to become adult and grown-up, independent human beings.

Following three inspiring months as a guest speaker with Centre for Digital Youth Care, I am now able to turn my attention and reflections toward my further theoretical work on my current MA (Ed) in General Education at the University of Aarhus, with new eyes and a much deeper understanding of pratice. However, all is changed, digital pedagogy has got me good!

Social Reality – Create your own emoji-troll

By Signe Sandfeld Hansen, M.Sc. in Psychology and counsellor, CfDP

We have now held 12 out of 20 workshops in youth clubs and schools across the country. All these places work with young “special-needs” people aged 12-16, particularly including people with ADHD, autism disorders, or other behavioural- or developmental disorders.

What are we doing at our workshops?

Each place receives two workshops where participants create their own emojis which focus on respectively positive and negative aspects of social media. In the first workshop young people make their own “Emoji-troll” which is sort of an image of the challenges they may encounter on social media – for instance, some people have depicted how they feel addicted to social media. The other workshop have people make their own interpretation of a so-called “Emoji-hero” which must symbolise what one can do about their challenges. For instance, in this case, some people have made drawings of a turned off mobile phone.

So far, young people have reacted positively toward the concept, and they have contributed plenty of well-thought inputs to what may be difficult, and what they believe may be done. The first workshop also offers help from one of the project’s role models who, themselves, experience cognitive challenges which have affected their behaviour on social media. The role model is an older young person (18+), who personally knows about dealing with challenges on social media, and who can assist young people to reflect on their behaviour online.

Addiction is a common feature

The main common feature has been the fact that a lot of young people feel almost addicted to social media in order to keep up with what others are doing, and keeping in touch with their friends. In return, they are aware that letting your mood, wardrobe, or opinion depend on how many likes such updates have received on Facebook, is not a healthy path.

Emojis created by young are people are filmed and finally put together in a short video, using that person’s voice as a soundtrack. They will describe what the emoji looks like and what it does.

Completed movie-clips are now available on cyberhus.dk/socialreality.

Experiences from our workshops will be used to develop a game about sound behaviour on social media which may help care-workers in their work. Would you like more information, please contact Signe Sandfeld Hansen @ signe@cfdp.dk.

Boy, girl, or non-binary? Cyberhus.dk has introduced a new gender identity

By Ida Ahlmann Østergaard, project worker, CfDP

The non-binary view on gender recognises gender as something more and something else than solely that of male and female, and a non-binary person may identify as both, neither, or something inbetween.

A request from young people

Niels-Christian Bilenberg, pedagogical coordinator responsible for CfDP’s online youth counselling, Cyberhus.dk, explains that a need for another gender identity on Cyberhus.dk came to his attention because of user-requests:

“Over some time, we have regularly been in contact with young people who have had the need to speak to a counsellor about the challenges of being born a certain sex, however feeling like the other, or something else. One day, a young person specifically wrote: “Why do you have to choose gender? I don’t think I fit any of them!”, and someone else wrote: “I’ve actually been wanting to use your chat but I haven’t been able to choose a gender I can identify with, so I ‘ve opted out” – this must feel completely wrong to someone, and so, I thought we should do something about that.”

Niels-Christian explains that such comments from young people kick-started the implementation of another gender identity on Cyberhus.dk, so that young people who feel like both, or neither, have the opportunity to choose a gender with which they can identify when they seek counselling on Cyberhus.dk.

One understanding of gender covering several gender identities

We have a broad range of gender identies and understandings of gender – in Great Britain, for instance, you can choose between 71 different genders when creating a profile on Facebook. Cyberhus.dk cannot host that many options of genders, so we had to choose one that covered all:

“With help from our young people, Cyberhus.dk has decided to use the non-binary understanding of identity, since this represents a kind of umbrella identity which may contain all,” explains Niels-Christian.

We must include everyone

Niels-christian expects that a great many young people may not know what it means to be non-binary. Fortunately, there is a simple solution:

“If our users do not know what it means to be non-binary, then we’ll take it from there and explain to them that some people experience being neither, and of course, we want to include all.”

Niels-Christian believes that in ten years time – at least, in Denmark – it will be perfectly natural that people have the opportunity to choose genders other than the classical male and female when having to state their gender.

We hope that the option of choosing between yet another gender on Cyberhus will be well received.

Young people are articulating their skills!

By Signe Sandfeld Hansen, M.Sc. in Psychology and counsellor, CfDP

Over the past months, almost 1500 young people have visited Cyberhus Courses, and although only 103 people have set up a user profile, it could indicate that young people do wish to articulate their qualifications – and, at the same time, receive a certificate documenting their skills.

Are you a Super-helper or Problem-solver?

At present, it is possible to take two different e-courses on Cyberhus Courses. The first one is called Superhjælper (Super Helper), and will take approximately 20 minutes to complete. This course will give insight into different types of help/assistance as well as being a provider of information on the features of our online youth counselling, Cyberhus.dk. The other one is called Problemknuser (Problem Solver) and will take approximately 60 minutes to complete. This course will give insight into various tools for problem- and conflict management, both on- and offline.

Learn more about Skills Connect: http://cfdp.dk/skills-connect-2/
Learn more about our e-couses: cfdp.dk/free-e-courses-for-vulnerable-young-people

The course of Problem solving is also provided as part of a qualifying half-day course where young people will have the opportunity to use their tools doing physical tasks. The course has been tested by 8 volunteers from Unge4Unge (Youth4Youth), who works to counsel, support, and foster integration among young people of other ethcnic backgrounds in the area of the Danish city, Aarhus.

Cyberhus Courses

The half-day course consisted of the 3 modules of the Problem solving course. Inbetween each module the acquired learning from the digital part of each module was “concretised”, and the young people had the opportunity to test their newly acquired skills within a safe setting. Finally, they digitally completed a short test after which they received their well-deserved diplomas.

If you would like to know more about Cyberhus Courses, please contact Signe Sandfeld Hansen @ signe@cfdp.dk

Closing of ENABLE

Well-being among young people

Working to tackle bullying and promote young people’s well-being, ENABLE has overall aimed to:

  • Foster young people’s socio-emotional development
  • Increase their awareness of their own behaviour in relation to others
  • Offer youth better channels of support

 
More specifically, ENABLE has assumed a holistic approach, producing resources for e.g. schools, such as SEL modules (Social and Emotional Learning), peer-support programs, online courses for teachers and parents, and training modules for professionals working with children and young people.

CfDP’s role in ENABLE

With our online youth counselling, Cyberhus, which is Danish helpline and part of the Insafe network, CfDP has mainly acted as a rolemodel to other helplines across Europe, and facilitated teaching webinars on ENABLE’s opportunities as well as our own use of the ENABLE concept. As consortium partner, we have collaborated on implementing ENABLE and been responsible for the Danish communication of the project.

Anti-bullying campaign

During the ENABLE project, Cyberhus dealt with the issue of bullying in a digital anti-bullying campaign. Cyberhus’ group chat operated as focal point in our dialogue with young people, and we based the topics of the group chat on ENABLE’s SEL modules. We had a good dialogue with our young people in which we especially focused on how bullying may be tackled by joint forces of both parents, youth, and professionals working with youth.

Facts & results

As a starting point, the goal of ENABLE was to roll out the program in 35 schools and reach 5,000 young people. In total, ENABLE has reached 15,738 pupils and 541 teachers in 119 schools, and has trained 300 peer supporters in the United Kingdom, Greece, and Croatia. In Denmark (CfDP), we mainly focused on training other helplines across Europe and reaching the more vulnerable young people. In total, we reached an estimated 4,000 young people.

Evaluation in partner countries

Comparing pre-assessment and post-assessment findings, United Kingdom, Greece, and Croatia found that the ENABLE approach and SEL modules used in schools are valuable in regards to promoting well-being in students, e.g.: pupils show better control of behaviour/ problem-solving with others, and are more likely to report bullying.

The website of ENABLE contains a number of resources for both teachers, parents/caretakers, and peer supporters.
 

Consortium partners of ENABLE

ENABLE Consortium partners @ the ENABLE 2 ACT conference

ENABLE 2 ACT conference

Recently, CfDP participated in ENABLE’s closing conference in Zagreb, 21-22 September, hosting 130 participants, both professionals, teachers, and young people from 19 different countries. In addition to speakings and panel discussions, the conference hosted an Exploratarium where participants would submit ideas and suggestions, through art and video, on how to tackle bullying. Also, the ENABLE challenge invited participants to submit their own anti-bullying ideas, and a World Café session gathered all participants in different teams, each having to present a roadmap on how to deal with certain themes, e.g., hate speech and development of empathy.

World Café session

World Café session, CfDP/Cyberhus team

Closing of ENABLE, however…

The ENABLE project has officially come to a close, but as Janice Richardson (ENABLE project manager, European Schoolnet) and the ENABLE team appropriately state:

“Although this update marks the end of the EC-co-funded ENABLE project, the consortium partners consider it just the start of an ongoing drive to promote the development of social and emotinoal skills of young people within a holistic approach […]”

As mentioned, interplay between parents, youth, and their surrounding environment/professionals makes a solid foundation for dealing with bullying. At CfDP and Cyberhus, we will make a continued effort to focus on bullying and give young people the opportunity to enter into dialogue, reflect and adopt their own positions.

partnerbillede
ENABLE 2 ACT conference

Experts, teachers, and youth from a number of different countries have come together at ENABLE 2 ACT to showcase and discuss the 2-year long work of ENABLE, and explore new ideas and initiatives to help prevent bullying and create better social interactions.

Along with a number of other countries, Denmark (CfDP) has been an active (and founding) member of ENABLE during these past two years, seeking to foster young people’s well-being in their social interactions, both on and offline, by

  • developing young people’s social and emotional skills
  • establishing peer support
  • applying a holistic approach engaging parents, teachers, young people, and the community at large

Press release

Below you will find an excerpt from the press release of the ENABLE 2 ACT conference, or you can also download the full press release.

Zagreb, Croatia; September 20, 2016 – Social and emotional skill development is showing far reaching results in the combat against bullying. Assessment results of the 2-year ENABLE project show that pupils having taken part in the ENABLE Social and Emotional Learning course are more likely to report aggressive behaviour, and that teachers have a deeper understanding of bullying and are better able to handle such incidents in class. Pupils show an increased value for self-control, understanding and differentiating their own emotions and those of others (empathy), and problem-solving. Teachers report a more friendly school climate in general, with more amicable peer relations and solidarity amongst students. These and other findings will be discussed in Zagreb this week, at the final conference of this EU funded project. Discussions will nevertheless be firmly focused on the future, with a number of countries including Hungary, Portugal, Italy and Cyprus also expressing interest in integrating ENABLE resources in their own schools.

 

Should you have any questions about ENABLE, please contact Niels-Kristian Bilenberg.

partnerbillede

Facebook – platform for breaking taboos on mental illness?

By Ida Ahlmann Østergaard. Recent MSc graduate in Media Studies, University of Aarhus & thesis author of “ Facebook som platform for aftabuisering af psykisk sygdom” (Facebook – platform for breaking taboos on mental illness).

With my thesis, Er du EN AF OS? En undersøgelse af Facebook som platform for aftabuisering af psykisk sygdom (Are you ONE OF US*? Research of Facebook as a platform for breaking taboos on mental illness), I have researched how the Facebook page of Danish nation-wide de-tabooing campaign ONE OF US, is perceived and used by people who have liked their page. With my research, I wanted to identify the nuances arising when you want people to talk about a taboo subject, such as mental illness, on Facebook. Do people wish to involve themselves (liking,commenting, and sharing) with content dealing with mental illness on Facebook, when mental illness is already a taboo subject in our offline world? The conclusion of my thesis is that people did not wish to do so, and so, Facebook as a platform for breaking taboos on mental illness is not effective in connection to the Facebook page of ONE OF US/campaign. This could be explained by a variety of reasons.

Facebook is context collapsed

One of the reasons that a Facebook page, such as ONE OF US, does not work effectively as part of a de-tabooing campaign is due to a so-called context collapse. Content collapse happens when different roles and contexts are mixed together. Most people take part in many different social contexts and social relations on Facebook. Therefore, a very complex situation of communication emerges which makes it difficult for Facebook users to choose a form of communication suiting all of their Facebook friends.

My research showed that several informants, generally, feel inhibited by lacking an overall view of the many different contexts they are entering on Facebook. For this reason, they rarely engage themselves with content on Facebook. So, this general tendency has a big influence on the informants’ commitment on the facebook page of ONE OF US. ONE OF US would like their users to involve themselves with the content on their Facebook page, however, informants opt out due to the overwhelming situation of communication. Informants are very attentive to what their Facebook friends may think of the content they share, which generally makes informants share only, for instance, joyful life events; content undoubtedly prone to positive response. Should they share content dealing with mental illness, they fear having to defend such content, and finding themselves in an unwanted discussion. Apparently, informants had liked the Facebook page of ONE OF US in order to show their support of the campaign, not in order to engage in its content. Instead, informants would be more inclined to speak about mental illness in a situation offline, being able to interact face-to-face with the recipient and, thus, knowing the context and having an overview of the situation of communication.

Mental illness and online identity

Another reason why Facebook is not working effectively as a platform for breaking taboos on mental illness is the fact Facebook is highly used as a tool for establishing and developing online identities. Therefore, informants are very reflective regarding how they present themselves and alert to which significance their representation bears on their online identity. As it turns out, the majority of informants opt out of engaging with content on Facebook, dealing with mental illness, because they do not want mental illness to be part of their online identity. They do not perceive mental illness to be a particularly big part of their offline identity, and so, it should not be part of their online identity.

Are you ONE OF US?

With my thesis, I also research how informants perceive the community of the Facebook page of ONE OF US. With their campaign, ONE OF US aims to establish a community and create a sense of a ‘unified us.’ One of my sub-conclusions in my thesis argues that this goal has not been met because what is, to a greater extent, established, is a dichotomy between ‘us’ and ‘them’ since several informants do not identify with the content shared by the ONE OF US Facebook page. Despite being impacted by mental illness themselves, or being a relative to someone with a mental illness, several informants do not feel a sense of community on ONE OF US’ Facebook page. I believe this is very unfortunate because you risk creating an even greater divide between us and them.

De-tabooing campaigns on Facebook is a fickle matter

Above-mentioned points testify that it is a challenge to organise a campaign on Facebook dedicated to breaking taboos. However, despite my conclusion, I do not believe that Facebook is an inapplicable tool in connection to de-tabooing campaigns. Facebook appeals broadly, so there is potential to reach quite a few Danes. However, in order to successfully establish a de-tabooing campaign on Facebook, I believe it is necessary to have a number of varied and updated insights into how users actually act on Facebook, along with their motives. This way, the fight on breaking taboos concerning mental illness on a social networking site, such as Facebook, may hopefully be strengthened.

In this post, I have chosen to highlight a couple of sub-conclusions from my research. The basis of my overall conclusion includes more sub-conclusions which each contributes to clarify the results of my research. These are available in my thesis (in Danish).

The empirical foundation of my thesis includes five individual interviews and a focus group interview. Informants are either people who has got a mental illness, or people who are relative to someone with a mental illness.

Digital Communities of Practice

By Signe Sandfeld Hansen, M.Sc. in Psychology and counsellor, CfDP

Meeting young people at digital eye level

Cyberhus.dk is continually organising different campaigns focusing on a particular theme. Most of our campaigns primarily use the following Cyberhus features: ‘blogs’, ‘group chat’, ‘secrets’, and ‘articles’. Also, ‘forum’ becomes a space where young people may begin, or continue, a debate without the involvement from the counselling team at Cyberhus. Out of Cyberhus’ four primary features, ‘group chat’ plays the biggest part in our communication with youth during a campaign.

Group chat as a learning environment

Overall, the aim of our anti-bullying campaign included communicating information on bullying, creating a reflective dialogue with young people, and articulating relevant human processes often brought on by bullying. Thus, succeeding with the campaign entailed that young people should learn more about the subject, themselves, and others, both in regards to strengthening their empathy, and reflecting on their emotions, thoughts, and behaviour. According to social learning theory, learning is created between people when they enter into so-called communities of practice (Etíenne Wenger: Communities of Practice, 1998). This way, learning is a social act or a social process unfolding in a dynamic, joint interaction with other people. Our article, discussing the campaign, argues that Cyberhus’ group chat may be considered a community of practice, giving room for social and emotional learning – which means that the campaign then offers formal as well as informal learning.

Formal and informal learning

The features of ‘articles’ and ‘blogs’ were used as structured media of communication, specifically intending to promote information on bullying. This, among others, includes Cyberhus’ articles on definitions of various types of bullying, what you can do, and accompanying emotions, as well as blog posts presenting questions of reflection, aiming to promote young people’s thought processes on the issue of bullying.

Informal learning showed itself in the feature of ‘group chat’ when Cyberhus’ young people did well in moderating each other and letting others know if their boundaries were breached. This way, they expressed what did want or did not want in a social context. Also, ‘group chat’ presents a space in which young people are taken seriously. A lot of young people who visit Cyberhus have few to no experiences of being taken seriously – both by other young people and adults. So, they often experience a growing insecurity regarding their faith in their own emotions and thoughts. Creating a community where youth actually feel they have something to offer, and are met as such, may lead young people to gain a stronger sense of value. It may also mean that young people learn how to articulate their inner reality, and communicate this reality to others in a sound manner. It may even mean that someone, more so, value their opinion or emotion to be important the next time issues of bullying is up for discussion at home or at school – and perhaps, more young people will begin put their foot down when it comes to bullying.

Various opportunities of the campaign

The form and design of the campaign provide opportunities for young people to speak to each other across age, and geographical location. They may share thoughts, emotions, and experiences in the safety of the anonymity offered by Cyberhus. Often, it gives rise to more varied conversations, making room for people’s many-varied attitudes and opinions. Forward-looking, it would be interesting to examine the effect of Cyberhus’ group chat as a community of practice, degrees of formal and informal learning, and how a future campaign may focus its content – of any theme – in order to optimise both forms of learning.

Learn more about ENABLE.

Learn more about our campaign on bullying.

Please direct any questions, or inquiries of becoming a collaborator on a campaign, to Signe @ signe@cfdp.dk, +0045 60137053.

The first year of Code Club in Denmark

By Anne Kathrine Kolby, project coordinator, Code Club.

Codeclub logoDuring the first year of Code Club, we organised six Code Club courses at five different schools. We collaborated with teachers, schools, IT-instructors, businesses, fonds, volunteers, lecturers, and students of social care. We have now gathered and evaluated our many positive experiences, so that we may continue to develop Code Club the best way possible. Here, you can read about our experiences.

During autumn 2015 until spring 2016, Code Club Denmark was run as a pilot project. Five different schools managed six courses reaching a total of 80 students. The Code Club project was funded by IBM Denmark, Brødrene Hartmanns Foundation, Familien Hede Nielsens Foundation as well as teachers and students of VIA University College, Social Education. We have acquired very positive experiences implementing Code Club teaching in elementary schools, and it has been very positive indeed to meet such great support from teachers, students, and not least students and teachers from VIA University College, Social Education, in the city of Aarhus.

Teachers

Our experiences from our pilot project show that Code Club creates dialogue and learning between children and youth, and their teachers, regarding IT, coding, and digital behaviour. Code Club has proved useful in providing skills upgrading of teachers and management in our select schools. The schools were eager to implement Code Club in their teaching in which they saw many professional advantages.

Students

Code Club

Code Club at the school of Kragelund.

Elementary school students, participating in Code Club, showed great interest and commitment in their implementation of Code Club tasks, and with involving themselves in dialogue about the use of IT and media. Our five different schools set up Code Club in e.g., Danish and math lessons.

One of the Code Club courses took place in a special class whose purpose was to present the students with a different way to learn and motivate. This proved a great success, and opened the teachers’ eyes to new possibilities for including particularly vulnerable and literary challenged young people in their teaching.

Volunteers

The Code Club project challenged several different models for including volunteers. First of all, it proved time-consuming coordinating the work schedule of our many volunteers. Also, it was challenging to enlist Code Club volunteers at all due to the fact that Code Club teaching is scheduled in the daytime during weekdays.

Students of social education at the school of Katrinebjerg.

Students of social education at the school of Katrinebjerg.

However, we do regard volunteers a relevant component to Code Club as they comprise solid and committed aid that may carry Code Club forward and greatly motivate teachers as well as students. Our most successful model for including volunteers- a model which will also be our recommendation for future Code Clubs in Denmark – was our collaboration with University College VIA, Social Education, in the city of Aarhus.

11 students from University College VIA’s elective module “Media and digital culture” participated as volunteer teachers of Code Club. Involving VIA students – professionally qualified to set up a pedagogical framework for children and also to create interesting media-related teaching – was incredibly constructive and inspiring. Furthermore, we needed only coordinate our contact with our 11 volunteers through one lecturer at University College VIA, Social Education, which made coordination much easier. Another benefit by including students of social education was a case of upskilling. By teaching Code Club, students acquired insight into how coding may be incorporated in a professional context, and technically they increased their skill levels through their work with elementary school students and through their understanding of Code Club tasks.

Challenges

The coordinated effort between schools, collaborators and volunteers is time-consuming. A lot of dates and schedules must work together, and coordinating and planning, for instance meetings and schedules dedicated to Code Club, has proven to be a longer process. So, it is of utmost importance that one enters into an early dialogue with schools and students, in order that time is set aside for planning, and thus creating the best foundation possible for organising Code Club courses. Among others, it is important that students of social education have the opportunity to meet with teachers of a given elementary school before launching Code Club, so that expectations to how Code Club should be implemented, may be matched.

At some schools, it has been challenging and time-consuming to motivate and commit teachers to teach Code Club. At the same time, on most schools we experienced a great interest in coding becoming part of teaching. Though, we also saw a good amount of insecurity and lack of IT-skills with teachers.

Recommendations

Code Club at the school of Beder

Code Club at the school of Beder

As part of our pilot project objectives, we have gathered our experiences on Code Club’s (Danish) website. Teachers, interested in Code Club, will find experiences from our pilot project, teaching material, and an introduction to how someone, as a teacher, may start running Code Club. Code Club has proven to be a sustainable model which may be rolled out by anyone who is interested.

However, from our experience speaking to teachers, there is still a good way to go before teachers, themselves, and their managers, venture into using coding as a natural part of teaching. We have set up the frameworks so that Code Club potentially may be rolled out to all elementary schools in Denmark, but teachers need help and support to be able to include coding in their various courses, such as Danish, math, and science, along with actually implementing coding in their teaching. Therefore, we are recommending an upscale of the pilot project to consist of a national initiative, running for the next three years, qualifying teachers and students to use coding in their teaching. A close collaboration between elementary schools, teacher educations, social educations, and other initiatives within the field, including project Coding Class of The Danish IT Industry Association which aims to research and document coding in elementary schools.

With regards to an upscale model, we recommend that resources are set aside to measure the effect of Code Club teaching including what, and how much, students have learned from participating in Code Club.

Learn more our experiences from Code Club’s first year in Denmark in Centre for Digital Youth Care’s compilation (in Danish).

Together, we can make a difference – on Facebook, too

Since 2009, Centre for Digital Youth Care (CfDP) has been appointed national Helpline in Denmark, being one of 31 national Helplines in Europe, and CfDP is also an active partner of Safer Internet Centre Denmark. Europe’s 31 Helplines are part of Insafe which, in short, is an European network of Helplines, Hotlines, and Information centres. The aim of Insafe is to empower young people to use the internet positively and safely, and at the same time, protect their rights and needs. Insafe is co-funded by Safer Internet Programme.

Purpose and work tasks of the Danish Helpline

Our daily work, as Helpline, primarily consists of answering questions and concerns from young people – and their parents – about their experiences online. Inquiries may also include issues about harmful or illegal content young people encounter online. We work from our youth platform Cyberhus.dk as well as through professional communication on www.cfdp.dk. Both platforms provide opportunities for chat counselling and direct dialogue with professionals. Our Helpline work is in perfect keeping with Centre for Digital Youth Care’s overall aim to help, particularly, vulnerable children and young people.

Another important aspect is the fact that the network creates the opportunity to work with big social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Ask.fm. This means that, together with Europe’s other 30 Helplines, we participate in establishing the agenda for safety on social media in particular.

Our meeting with Facebook

Most recently, the network of Helplines has conducted a meeting with a representative from Facebook, discussing the safety of this platform and their current procedures. Facebook has a vast number of users, and this naturally gives rise to the unfolding of various issues. Facebook already focuses on this aspect, and over the years, they have devised a number of key policies on nudity, human trafficking, hate speech, and much more. Also, they continually roll out new initiatives – at present time, they are working on suicide prevention and think-before-you-share campaigns.

At our meeting, we got the opportunity to ask some of the questions that worry young people and their parents, as experienced on our Helpline, and we put forward their reflections on the safety of Facebook. Among others, we asked the representative from Facebook whether parents can easily report any issues if pictures of their children are shared inappropriately. On this issue, Facebook refers to their function of ‘Privacy Rights – Photo Removal Request’ – promising that they will process reports quickly, and act if necessary.

Greater security in the future

The fact that it is possible to enter into direct dialogue with, for example Facebook, is very positive indeed. The big social platforms are large international corporations, and dialogue may be difficult, especially as private individuals or minor organisations. The value of our international collaboration in Insafe, as Helpline, is therefore apparent to us. As a network of Helplines, we have more leverage. People listen, and we participate in creating reflection, and the big corporations show interest in collaborating with us. This helps create results, and together we are able to increase the security online.

Are you interested in learning more about which areas and issues people inquire about and who address us? Then, please visit Insafe’s Better Internet for Kids.

About Safer Internet Centre Denmark

Safer Internet Centre Denmark is a collaboration between The Media Council for Children and Young People, Centre for Digital Youth Care, and Save the Children Denmark. The Media Council is a national information centre focusing on children and young people’s use of digital and social media. Centre for Digital Youth Care runs the national Danish helpline which is a digital counselling platform where children and young people can receive anonymous counselling. Finally, Save the Children Denmark is responsible for the national Danish hotline which handles reports of online material containing sexual child abuse.

The digital reality of children and young people in 2016

Since 2009, Centre for Digital Youth Care has been part of SIC providing a hotline as well as a helpline, and carrying out surveys, campaigns, teaching material, and other publications concerning children and young people’s digital well-being which may contribute to support adults in managing their role as advisors.

About Safer Internet Centre Denmark

SIC consists of the following organisations; The Media Council for Children and Young People, Centre for Digital Youth Care, and Save the Children Denmark. The Media Council is a national information centre focusing on children and young people’s use of digital and social media. Centre for Digital Youth Care runs the national Danish helpline which is a digital counselling platform where children and young people can receive anonymous counselling. Finally, Save the Children Denmark is responsible for the national Danish hotline which handles reports of online sexual child abuse material. SIC is supported by the European Commission under the programme Connecting Europe Facility.

Learn more about the national Danish helpline, and all of the helplines in Europe – and see statistics on which issues children and young people address.

Connecting Europe Facility
New children’s Think Tank to ensure safe online behaviour

By Anni Marquard, Head of centre, CfDP

Adults worry about children’s online lives

Today, most children use our many options for communicating, and sharing pictures and movies online. Life online does not quite follow the same rules as is present in the physical world. Privacy and consent receive very significant meanings which children are not familiar with.

Also, adults worry about the digital lives of their children. They feel unapt to stay updated, and in many cases they do not know how to handle problems that arise when a child, for example, experience having an intimate picture shared. Both children and adults need help. Therefore, Save the Children Denmark and Telia are setting up a Children’s/Youth Think Tank to ensure safe online behaviour.

– We need to involve the children. We must enter into dialogue, listen and understand their needs and concerns. What do they perceive as challenges? Children themselves must provide good advice and recommendations regarding how adults can better protect their children and guide them through the roads and detours of the internet, says Jonas Keiding Lindholm, general secretary of Save the Children Denmark.

Children and adults must take a stance

The Think Tank will consist of 10 children and young people between the ages of 12-18, socio-economically, geographically, and ethnically diversified. The Think Tank is run by Save the Children Denmark in collaboration with The Media Council for Children and Young People, Centre for Digital Youth Care, and ENIGMA. The Think Tanks is sponsored by Telia who view their role of working with children’s digital behaviour as very important.

– At Telia, we would like to contribute to a safer digital life for children and young people. Typically, children get their first cell phone when they are 8-9 years old. Having a cell phone entails a brand new world which children and their parents should consider and talk about. Therefore, we are really pleased to be able to support a project that gives children a voice concerning the debate on digital well-being, and which helps children and parents alike to lead a safer life online, says Mette Honoré, Head of communications with Telia.

At last year’s People’s Political Festival, Søren Pind, Minister of justice, Jonas Keiding Lindholm, general secretary of Save the Children Denmark, and Jane Sandberg, director of ENIGMA, participated in Telia’s discussion dealing with children’s digital lives. The initial goal involves that the Think Tank presents and entrusts their recommendations on children’s life online to relevant ministers at next year’s People’s Political Festival.

Background

Purpose of the Think Tank:

•    Devising notes of recommendations to politicians, parents, professionals, children and young people
•    Providing recommendations for adults so that they may positively contribute to the online behaviour of children and young people
•    Creating a debate on the online behaviour of children and young people so that they may become more aware of their own online behaviour
•    Developing activities contributing to safer online behaviour among children and young people, through the school service of ENIGMA
•    Identifying any deficiencies in Denmark’s present relevant legislation
•    Providing practical suggestions of how schools may treat the subject

Facts

In Denmark, a lot of children already begin their active online lives from the ages of 8-9. In order to ensure that children below the ages of 12 also receive a voice in the debate, the Children’s/Youth Think Tank will interview and include younger children.

The Think Tank corps will be trained to communicate their messages on various levels, and they will be supported to receive input for the discussions among other children and young people, and experts from Save the Children Denmark.

The Think Tank will continually have different people of resources associated who are able to provide input on which subjects and themes the Think Tank would like to put on the agenda.

The Think Tanks is run by Save the Children Denmark in collaboration with The Media Council for Children and Young People, Centre for Digital Youth Care, and ENIGMA – Museum of Communication.

New grant to help increase the inclusion of non-ethnic Danes

By Anni Marquard, Head of centre, CfDP

The grant is targeted towards the voices of non-ethnic young Danes

Therefore, we are extra pleased that the municipality of Aarhus has recently granted funds, via their “Participant budgets and prevention of online radicalisation”, helping us to further develop and support inclusive work. Our work towards creating further inclusion and community among non-ethnic Danes will unfold on Cyberhus.dk as well as on Mitassist.dk – both counsellings are managed by Centre for Digital Youth Care.

The grant is allocated from the municipality of Aarhus’ pool, “Participant budgets and prevention of online radicalisation” – part of an anti-radicalisation strategy of the municipality of Aarhus. The strategy of this pool is to prevent radicalisation through several citizen-driven initiatives. It is important to emphasise that we focus on very early prevention rather than specific anti-radicalisation efforts.

Centre for Digital Youth Care has applied for funds from the above mentioned pool with an aim to include more young people of different cultural backgrounds and also, giving non-ethnic Danes a voice on equal terms with other young people in Denmark. We would very much like to start a good few stories and debates on what it is like to be a young person in Denmark – regardless of whether someone is an ethnic Dane or a non-ethnic Dane. The focal point is that young people share stories which other young people may know from their own personal lives. It is important that they speak freely, and Cyberhus is able to provide an encompassing space within its pedagogical framework.

Everyday images of love

The grant is targeted at young people who will be blogging on the counselling sites, Cyberhus.dk and Mitassist.dk. They will communicate with other young people about how they live their lives in Denmark, for better or worse. They are not (!) to appear as someone who speaks against radicalisation. They are not (!) to be selected from the crowd and appointed as non-ethnic Danes because exactly this would exclude them from the community in which we seek to include them. Rather, they are just to be ordinary young people on equal terms with other young people who share their lives on Cyberhus. It is about everyday images of love, education, and other issues prevalent to young people.

Distortion in the media creates exclusion

Along with the inclusion of young people, Centre for Digital Youth Care notices another important aspect of the project which is the importance of creating counter-narratives on the many negative stories present in the press and on social media. To Centre for Digital Youth Care it is crucial for inclusion that young people are able to find positive stories when they google the internet. At the time of writing, there are many stories on xenophobic people and poor integration. Reality is different.

A big percentage of non-ethnic Danes do very well, and xenophobic people are a minority, however, young people may not always be able to locate these stories, and with this project, we would like to make an effort to change that. The distortion on various social media contributes to exclude young people from the community, and this has to change.

Disquieting tendency – let us, instead, create a democratic debate

At Centre for Digital Youth Care, we worry about a tendency to highlight the negative stories on the subject of non-ethnic Danes, both with the press and as private individuals. Often, radical opinions on non-ethnic Danes are voiced, while others are not heard. This contributes to create a distortion of reality, and therefore, the democratic debate is under pressure.

The referral of this project in the press represents such an example. In their approach of the news of our allocated funds, the press has extracted that we intend to combat extremism and radicalisation. However, this is not the message and purpose of this project – and pool.

With this project and pool, we merely wish to work on creating inclusion and collaboration across gender, religion and age by letting young people share their positive stories. Also, we hope that those stories may challenge the negative ones…no more, no less. This nuance is not mentioned in the press, but fortunately we have our own voice on this blog. The same goes for our young people on Cyberhus and Mitassist..non-ethnic Dane, or not.

Free E-courses for vulnerable young people

By Signe Sandfeld Hansen, M.Sc. in Psychology and counsellor, CfDP

The certificate is represented by a diploma and a digital badge which young people may use when they are entering the job market. The project has resulted in an expansion of Cyberhus with a new section dedicated to E-courses: Cyberhus Courses.

Reflection on one’s own abilities

During the project’s start-up phase, the project held a collaborative workshop inviting a handful of young people and a number of various relevant people from the job market, including a representative from Job Centre Aarhus, and a young entrepreneur. The workshop set out to explore which skills would be interesting to elaborate on. Young participants, as well as the workshop’s professional representatives, contributed with a lot of interesting reflections on which skills an employer pays attention to and which skills may be difficult to communicate to an employer. Read more about our collaborative workshop. In continuation of our workshop, we decided to proceed with two courses: Super Helper and Problem Solver.

Super Helper and Problem Solver

The two courses are based on the experiences of The Mix, and employs an interactive view on learning. That is, the courses consist partly of text which the participant has to read and small tasks they have to solve. Everything is built on the pedagogical idea that the courses should be equally accessible to young people who are job ready, or school ready, and who experience challenges, either at school or in connection to their job search. In this context, it is possible to have longer text passages read aloud.

The Super Helper course is based on a person’s participation on Cyberhus.dk, for instance writing a comment, giving a like, or participating in Cyberhus’ group chat; actions that may prove to be a big help for other young people. We argue that young people’s participation on Cyberhus.dk, in a lot of ways, contains many of the same qualifications present in voluntary work, even though online activity may be less visible. So, the aim of the course is to strengthen young people’s understanding of how they are already making a difference for other young people. The Super Helper course consists of 1 module, and it takes approximately 20 minutes to complete.

The Problem Solver course focuses on giving young people a set of tools that may assist them in strengthening their abilities to solve problems. New (perhaps) concepts will be introduced, such as being proactive and reactive, meanwhile focusing on people’s success stories. The Problem Solver course consists of 3 modules, each taking approximately 15-20 minutes to complete. Finally, the participant will have to complete a multiple choice test, answering questions based on different cases which the participant may know from daily life.

 

Relevant for young people in your life?

Taking a course through Cyberhus Courses is free, and it addresses all young people who would like to put their participation on Cyberhus, or their abilities for problem solving, into words.

Please find Cyberhus Courses on: kurser.cyberhus.dk (in Danish)

If you have any questions or would like to receive a guided tour in Cyberhus Courses, please email project manager Signe Sandfeld Hansen @ signe@cfdp.dk.

See article Are you empathetic? Prove it! to learn more about the first part of the development process of Skills Connect.

Digital Education becomes focus towards 2020

By Anni Marquard, Head of centre, CfDP

Collaboration with organisations

The Danish Minister for Children, Education and Gender Equality, Ellen Trane Nørby, states in a press release that 6 million DKK is devoted to an initiative to be determined in collaboration with information organisations in Denmark. Naturally, we warmly embrace this. Along with a number of other actors in the area, Centre for Digital Youth Care can draw on solid experiences as to which thematics are relevant for specific years. We would love to share these experiences.

“With the joint digitisation strategy, more than 6 million DKK is earmarked for a focused initiative aiming to strengthen the digital education of children and young people in day care facilities, elementary schools, and youth educations. The initiative will include the work of external organisations. Also, among others, information campaigns will be arranged, and teaching materials for schools will be produced.”

We must remember the youngest

Centre for Digital Youth Care would like to see preventative initiatives. It would be obvious to use the cases of these past 6 months, concerning nude pictures among especially students in youth educations, to conclude that initiatives must target the eldest youths. However, critical, self-reflective knowledge does not just happen. It must be employed as an ongoing effort through childhood and youth. This, partly, is also supported by the initiative:

“Children’s digital learning and education begin in the day care centres and continue with them through the educational system. [..] Children and young people from the digital generation must be equipped with digital education and skills necessary in order to be able to navigate a digital world ..”

p. 55

From our experience, inquires regarding initiatives with the youngest students occupy people’s issues of concern more now than ever. Parents and schools increasingly contact us and inquire that the youngest students should receive education, and insight into what it means to be together digitally. You cannot discuss issues of nude pictures in the 2nd year, but you can begin to establish an initial ethics on privacy, images, and videos that may serve as a foundation for future thematics.

Throughout school life

“Children and young people must develop digital skills and education, so that they, from an early age, become equipped to navigate our digital reality. [..] Teaching programs and material for senior students in elementary schools and youth educations should help provide students practical, digital skills, equipping them to interact digitally in society.”

p. 57

It may be difficult to interpret the very general formulations of this strategy; but our understanding is that the aim is to strengthen the general digital education throughout school life as well as strengthening students’ “digital skills” within the lower secondary education. This makes sense. However, when you mix common education and skills, we do have to remember that teachers and professionals must feel well equipped to handle both aspects. Centre for Digital Youth Care meet a great number of teachers who find it difficult to teach digital education, because this requires that someone is greatly knowledgeable about existing digital communities and digital youth culture.

Also, we experience a huge need to activate the parents. Today, children’s digital lives cross all borders. Conflicts on digital media is a parent-problem as well as a school-problem. Strategies on how to maintain parents’ interest in the digital lives of their children should be part of an overall initiative regarding digital education.

Think broadly

Over these past 10 years, we have taught digital education to students in elementary schools. In a lot of ways, the themes we meet are identical to the ones addressed 10 years ago. Children do “logon” earlier than before, and the technology pushes today’s challenges in a more visual direction. Still, our task of creating a sense of community and reflection on life on- and with- social and digital media, is constant in many ways.

At Centre for Digital Youth Care, we hope that the strategy for working with digital education will embrace broadly. We have already participated in a number of meetings in the Ministry for Children, Education and Gender Equality – and we would be pleased to further contribute information and suggestions concerning the digital, educational journey of children, young people, and their adults.

Youth and nude photos – what’s what

By Jonas Ravn, speaker and project manager, CfDP

Everybody does it!

Well, is it so?

A few years back, an SSP worker (collaboration between schools, social services and police aiming to prevent crime among children and young people) from Northern Jutland did a research on 8th form children in the municipality of Jammerbugten. The study showed that close to ⅓ of the students had experienced receiving a nude picture. Although this is quite a discomforting number, we know from experience that there’s a big difference between receiving and re-sharing nude pictures. Far less reshare pictures – and thank god, because in many cases this is where the real violation begins. The Youth Profile Survey, among lower secondary students, shows that 6,6% have shared material of themselves.

The number of young people in 7-9th form, across the country, who have tried to share nude material of others, is 3,7%, which is a number that is still far too high. This is where we must absolutely act because this field exhibits the most devastating experiences and harbours legal consequences that become very serious.

The biggest hurdle is figuring out whether young people are ‘using’ or ‘abusing’ nude pictures and videos. If someone is over the age of 15, two people can consent to sharing pictures confidentially. It is important that we do not blame those who share, but instead, we open a debate on risks. It’s been stated that a nude picture today resembles what was previously a love letter. I would like to support this analogy because we do have to understand the phenomena of nude pictures from the premise of youth. However, worst case scenario by sharing a nude picture far exceeds the risk of sharing a love letter. A page is not burnt in cyberspace. We still have to discuss this point with young people.

I have latched onto a quote from a young girl who was cited by Politiken (Danish national newspaper, ed.) last weekend:

“Among us girls, we talk about whom we’re interested in and what you can do to create some sort of interest. And when pictures are sent, they are usually distributed very broadly – not just to your boyfriend. And then they land in the hands of boys who don’t feel emotionally attached to the girl on a particular picture. So, there’s a lack of guilt associated with resharing something. Boys love it. Girls love the attention. Nobody feels bad for anyone. A lot of us play this game,” A says.

The above quote clearly shows how complex it is to place the responsibility. Particularly among youth themselves. Therefore, it is relevant to upgrade the discussion with young people about this sort of behaviour, and this should be done in a manner that articulates the culture without placing the guilt with well-meaning victims who have shared a picture or a video in confidence and in good faith.

Majority of misconceptions?

When we teach online use, we especially touch on the subject of majority of misconceptions, and that which you could call an improper seal of approval of a problematic behaviour. This could relate to e.g. last years’ numerous cases of bullying on Ask.fm, and gossip- and hate pages on different social platforms. Here, we observe that young people are more inclined to participate in a behaviour of bullying if one or more people from their social circle already participate in, or approve, that behaviour.

This is logical. I have seen a lot of examples where all of the students in a particular year were following an Instagram hate-profile targeting another student – for the reason only that everybody else did it. It would be reasonable to assume that the same logic is applicable to nude pictures. If you have repeatedly experienced hearing of/looking at examples of nude pictures among peers, perhaps it would be natural for people to get an idea that everybody does it, and also that you should do it yourself in order to ‘be part of the crowd.’

The issue of majority of misconceptions may vary across the country. Although we SURELY notice a rise of inquiries from school and parents in which nude pictures and videos are part of a conflict, it would be unfair to place all youth in one and the same group.

The debate has a positive effect

These days, where we witness journalists all over the country tracking stories and reporting them as testimonials of ordinary youth, it is relevant to remember that most young people have a balanced life integrating a fine, moral compass. I meet SO many reflective young people who would just like to USE the many digital opportunities as part of their youth – particularly as part of their play with sexuality. We have to give them credit for that.

Even though the media storm of these past few weeks have exhibited a few good young people through very specific cases, I can already tell, from my school visits, that the awareness of youth culture, the specific stories, and their consequences have made their impact among young people. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a number of disheartening cases before we collectively direct our focus and change the kind of behaviours that are problematic.

What happens when the chat is over?

Who knows what happens when the door to some virtual room is closed?
When I sit down in front of the screen as a counsellor, it’s always with an intent to create a safe and trusting environment that might help youth find the courage and desire to share their story; Sharing something, perhaps previously unshared, and letting go of emotions that may have turned into a big knot in the stomach. My hope is also that my counselling is not merely words on a screen that disappear when the chat session is over. But who knows that happens when the door to the virtual room is closed?

If only my arms could reach through the screen
The not-knowing what happens when the chat session is finished, and the acceptance of not being able to follow up on a particular youth, is a condition with which I have grown to reconcile. Sort of. During my 1½ years as a chat counsellor, a lot of young people have imprinted on my mind and taken my breath away with their stories in such a way, that I’ve often wished that I could reach my arms though the screen and remove someone from an incomprehensible reality.
Even though I have adjusted to the fact that care and safety can be created through language, there are days I feel that it’s just not enough. I want out of cyberspace and meet our youth IRL:

Secrets are shared for the first time in the chatroom
A 14-year-old girl logs onto the chatroom a friday afternoon. She is new to Cyberhus and is a bit careful in the beginning, but gradually she shares her story that she is molested by her father whom she lives with by herself. This is the first time she lets anyone know about ‘their secret,’ so as a starting point we ‘just’ talk. Although I’m becoming an ‘old stager,’ it is the first time I meet someone who’s been a victim of sexual abuse – and her story leaves an immense impression. I am quickly filled with a strong urge to trespass our rules of anonymity, leave directly for the girl’s home, and get her away from her father. Of course, I suppress this urge and instead I try to create a safe and trusting room, hoping that she may feel like stopping by again, and maybe, down the road, feel ready to act. I have to respect the fact that she very likely still cares for her father even though he hurts her.

With a pounding heart and sweaty palms – we must act
However, the chat takes a sudden turn when the girl tells us that the abuse takes place practically everyday, and the father often invites his friends over at night to get wasted and ‘do stuff’ to her. The paid pedagogical employee, who is coordinator this friday, has followed this chat session from the sideline, and together we assess that it is insufficient just to talk to the girl about how she feels, because her life may be in danger. Action is needed. The next 45 minutes feel like an eternity. My heart is pounding, and my palms are sweaty, as the girl calls her teacher and explains her situation at home. I try to calm her while we wait for her teacher to come pick her up, and we are so fearful that her father may return home. The time seems endless, and I cannot do anything but hope that the teacher actually shows up, and that the girl’s father has touched her for the last time. I don’t want to let go, but I have to let her finish our chat so that she can get away from the house. I compliment her for her courage, and let her know that she is doing the right thing. And then, she’s gone…

It makes darn good sense!
I’m left with a feeling of having left the cinema during the climax of the picture without knowing whether the ending is happy. Unresolved, and at the same time, filled with a feeling of meaningfulness. I guess I will never know whether or not the teacher showed up and the 14-year-old girl got away from her father, but I do know that I helped create a room that gave her courage to speak up and take the first steps toward a better life. And that makes darn good sense!

Digital counselling for teenageboys is blooming!

By Karina Lange, communicator, CfDP

TUBA and Cyberhus each has their own counselling for vulnerable children and young people. Both organisations have a good connection with girls to whom their counselling platform unconsciously have appealed to the most. Therefore, they have been wanting to connect with teenage boys between the ages of 13-20, since only few representants of this group seek help with life’s difficult problems. This has now come to fruition via a new counselling platform called MitAssist (MyAssist).

Boys are ranked in a point system

The new platform is built on the concept of gamification where people give each other assists, and someone’s help to others is then ranked in a point system. Counsellor and coordinator, Niels-Christian Bilenberg from Centre for Digital Youth Care says, “the effect is reinforcing. Others may also be inspired by those ‘higher-ranked’ – then, they might increase their own rank. […] It’s of value to those who leave a reply. You receive recognition for the energy you put in, and that’s of value to some of our boys. They’d like a rank position on our site, when they invest their time.”

This is an example of a an active user on MitAssist. You can see username, image, age, and rank in the point system

This is an example of a an active user on MitAssist. You can see username, image, age, and rank in the point system.

Community and coaches with personality

On MitAssist, there’s also a mixed troop of counsellors. Not just professionals, e.g., psychologists, caretakers, teachers, and social workers. Rather, boys would like to talk to people who has got similar life experiences. Everyone, coaches and youth, have their own user profile on MitAssist, so everyone has an identity and their own unique story to share. Everyone unfolds their own personality, and as such, users get to know each other, and they may discover similarities with other people. This has created a platform where primarily young people help each other, which bonds them together in a community of tolerance and a helping hand. Counsellors are often present in the background, and only contributes if someone asks.

This, in particular, appeals to teenage boys who are both involved, active and very caring with each other. “It’s been a very positive experience, and not characterised by extremely short and precise answers that we actually anticipated,” explains Niels-Christian Bilenberg, and adds, “the quality is extremely high, and they contribute a lot of different angles.”

Platform with success, and bridge-building

Right now, there are 159 users, and the target goal was 200 users by completion of the project in November 2017. So, the project has enjoyed a successful start, and now the focus is on getting even more users involved and further develop MitAssist into a more user-involved platform, e.g., through polls. Furthermore, the collaboration with municipalities must be increased. Municipalities may greatly benefit from the insight that MitAssist generates of young people in the local community, and in time, municipalities will also be able to use the counselling platform actively in their own communication and guidance. Centre for Digital Youth Care has a vision of building a bridge between NGO and municipalities, so that vulnerable young people may receive the right counselling and help in time, and the MitAssist project supports this vision.

Facts about MitAssist

MitAssist is a new counselling platform whose purpose is to increase the contact with teenage boys between the ages of 13-20. Cyberhus, as well as TUBA, have had minimal contact with this group of young people, since the more traditional platforms have not appealed to them as much. MitAssist is built on the concept of gamification which a lot of boys can relate to, and a more personal counselling has created a community in which boys manage to support each other.

The entire project is sponsored by the VELUX FOUNDATION by 4,5 mio. DKK, and runs for more than 2 years. Next, the goal is that MitAssist creates such great value to both teenage boys and municipalities, that the new platform may continue.

Fore more information on mitassist.dk, please contact concept developer Jonas Sindal Birk.

Virtual self-harm

By Signe Sandfeld Hansen, M.Sc. in Psychology and counsellor, CfDP

Self-harm in Denmark

According to the Danish National Organisation Against Eating Disorders and Self-harm, close to a third of the Danish population aged 18-30 have, at some point in their lives, intentionally harmed themselves. Also, 16% of Danish high school students, and 13,5% of senior students in elementary school, have demonstrated self-harming behaviour at least one time. Self-harm is deliberate actions in which someone inflicts harm or pain on themselves, not intending to take their own life. The most frequent forms of self-harm are cutting, eating-disorders, self-directed violence, and an excessive use of alcohol or other drugs.

A variety of reasons may result in someone’s self-harming behaviour, but often self-harm is executed in order to attenuate ‘hard-to-handle’ emotions such as anger, anxiety, and jealousy. If someone finds it difficult to feel themselves or their emotions, self-harm may be their way to provoke some sort of reaction.

Chat addicted girlWhat may we learn from virtual self-harm?

In his article “Virtual Self Harm – Where’s the Harm?” Ken Corish, Online Safety Manager with South West Grid for Learning and UK Safer Internet Centre, highlights a new aspect of self-harming behaviour, namely virtual self-harm, in which youth use digital channels to achieve and maintain a reaction. For example, setting up and using fake profiles on social media in order to communicate degrading content at themselves, or seeking out confrontations with others, intending to be demeaned by others.

According to Corish’ article, the internet has opened up a set of new factors that may influence how we prevent and look at digital self-harm, and self-harming behaviour in general. Ken Corish makes a distinction between the phenomena of: “Finding your tribe”, “Tool of the trade”, “Auto-trolling” and “Self-baiting”.

Virtual self-harm #1: “Finding your tribe”

The internet offers communities catering to almost all groups of interest, and this may indeed be a positive thing. Particularly to vulnerable young people, the internet is an obvious choice of place to meet others who understand their situation, a place where someone can share their story or ask questions, or become better at dealing with life’s challenges. In relation to self-harming behaviour, or some other problematic behaviour, communities online may however become a source of normalising those behaviours and recognising them as good practice. Ken Corish mentions that a quick Tumblr search on self-harm results in a big selection of images and messages (both positive and negative), which may lead the user into unmoderated threads of comments or debates that focus on self-harm. A lot of sites have good intentions, but indirectly they actually end up promoting self-harm as something that is considered “emo”, “dark” and “cool.” Ken Corish also points out that some young people have acquired the culture of self-harm and promoted it as a lifestyle – “I’m cool because I’m emotionally interesting.”

Virtual self-harm #2: “Tool of the trade”

Aside from the unofficial self-harm communities, there are sites that try to limit the harms of self-harming behaviour by teaching “safe abuse.” This is a phenomenon that is most often present when drug addicts receive clean needles so that they can take their drug whilst minimising related risks. Corish refers to the organisation Selfharm.co.uk that offers online counselling on minimising damages when e.g. cutting – what should you cut with, where should you cut, and what do you do if you go into a state of shock.

In relation to both “finding your tribe” and “tool of the trade”, Corish’ article points out that if visitors are digitally educated young people, who are capable to do their own research and challenge the content of visited pages, then the pages are not dangerous. However, this requires that youth harbour a certain amount of resilience and also know how to reflect on digital content in the first place. Ken Corish also underlines that websites should follow distinct guidelines as to how they show “good advice”, so that the proper information is passed on – not just to young people, but also to professionals.

Virtual self-harm #3: “Auto-trolling”

The concept of trolling refers to the issue of using interpersonal communication online in order to provoke other users, and elicit a hot-headed discussion or conflict. “Auto-trolling” is a further development of the concept of trolling, and takes place when someone creates various fake profiles on e.g. social media, and then visibly “attacks” their own personal profile. This demands an understanding of how the technology works, along with a dedication to maintain their desired activity in order to achieve a certain credibility.

In his article, Ken Corish refers to the case of a young British girl, Hannah Smith, who committed suicide after being exposed to abusive, digital bullying. Police investigations found out that other people had not been involved, and evidence showed that Hannah had “attacked” herself by using several fake profiles. The case caused British authorities to focus on the need for social media to take responsibility and moderate/stop digital bullying, and at the same time, it showcased the nuances of the phenomenon of digital bullying to also include virtual self-harm.

Virtual self-harm #4: “Self-baiting”

The phenomenon of “self-baiting” is very similar to “trolling” represented by someone wishing to stir a discussion or a conflict, however differing fundamentally from a troll, who seeks a reaction (whichever reaction) or attention, whereas a “self-baiter” seeks reactions that stems from “attacks” against their person. This way, a “self-baiter” seeks out places where he/she can get other people to state abusive, or even mean, things directed to the self-baiter.

Although not completely similar, the phenomenon of “roast me” is a form of “self-baiting” where someone posts a picture of themselves, and directly asks others to provide nasty/mean comments. As a vulnerable and insecure young person, it may present a means of having others confirm their self-afflicted thoughts and emotions, and perhaps lead them to maintain other self-harming behaviour.

Understanding, digital education, and increased internet safety

Ken Corish presents a set of initiatives that would be productive to keep in mind when working with vulnerable children and young people, particularly concerning self-harm, but still encompassing other issues.

Remember, digital life is part of young people’s lives

  • When you make an effort to prevent self-harming behaviour, it is important to understand that technology may have an important role to play. Create a dialogue with young people about their use of online communities. “Stop using the internet” is not a rational intervention, when digital life and social media play a big part in young people’s lives.
 

Digitally educated youth

In order for young people to able to reflect on, and sort, digital content, it is necessary that they know how to take on an explorative approach. The School service with Centre for Digital Youth Care aims to foster an explorative approach by, among others:

  • strengthening young people’s resilience online in order to increase their safety,
  • promoting information on what “faceless” communication means to social understanding,
  • teaching young people how to behave in a positive manner in online communities,
  • teaching young people to mold their digital footprints to their advantage, and teaching them how to be critical of online content, and acquiring an explorative approach.
 

Ken Corish’ article encourages professionals, who work with vulnerable children and young people, to look at digital life as part of a whole, and understand that digital life is of great importance when making initiatives. Digital self-harm is a phenomenon which we will follow closely, both in our counselling at Cyberhus, and in our physical communication with students.

At Centre for Digital Youth Care, we continue our work to strengthen young people’s digital education, hoping to create a safer internet together. So, if you should carry stories or information on digital self-harming behaviour, we would greatly appreciate your input, so that we continually may increase our understanding of this phenomenon.

Read the entire article “Virtual Self Harm – Where’s the Harm?” by Ken Corish in ‘Every Child Journal’ (not yet published).

Find more information on digital self-harm by visiting Ken Corish’ website:
http://www.kencorish.info/waving-silently-technology-and-self-harm/

The use of IT and digital media in the field of pedagogy

By Anni Marquard, Head of centre, CfDP

The project has also aimed to create a forum for knowledge sharing across Europe and alleviate a lacking knowledge about the use of IT – both politically, organisationally, and practically. The result of our project consists of two reports, an international report, and a Danish report. Below, we relate exclusively to our Danish results.

The Danish research is based on the responses of 125 professionals by means of digital questionnaires, and conversations with professionals and youth distributed between 6 different focus groups. Generally, our research is characterised by the view that IT and digital media overall are considered to be positive dimensions which can be included in pedagogical and social work. However, we see a need for focusing on a better, long-term qualification of employers, distinct guidelines for strategical work with social and digital media in a professional context, teaching that creates identification with youth – and on a completely low-practical level, that our technology runs smoothly. Based on the Danish report, these are our four recommendations for the international report:

screenagers1

At the end of this article, you will find links to the full report, but below we will shortly elaborate on our four recommendations:

IT and media creating dialogue with youth
IT and digital/social media are especially applied to ease the communication among professionals, as well as among professionals and youth with an aim to create better dialogue and information. Generally, a lot of good intentions exist concerning the use of IT and media in the field of pedagogical and social work, but it is necessary to create a continuous effort in order to implement such use in the workplace of those who work with children and young people. It is clearly evident from our questionnaires and focus groups that IT and media help create an easy and effective communication. IT and media are primarily used to help create dialogue with youth (planning and communication). Part of the respondents and focus group participants have realised that if they want to establish a successful contact with young people, it will be on young people’s terms, although professionals may feel unfamiliar with, and challenged by, communicating and interacting digitally.

A professional framework should be devised
In all of the focus groups there was a general consensus that you cannot do without IT and social/digital media when working with young people whose everyday lives today also take place online. In order that the use of IT succeeds, the importance of devising an overall framework with respect to how professionals can utilise IT and social/digital media effectively, is highlighted. Several of our participants experience that they each have to figure out to what extent they wish to incorporate IT and digital/social media.

An overall skills upgrading is necessary
IT opens up for new opportunities when entering into dialogue with young people, and may give professionals useful information about their young people which they would otherwise not have received. Focus group participants who were teachers, had a positive approach toward the use of IT and media in their work and believed that an overall skills upgrading would be necessary in order to help them use IT and media the most valuable way possible. We must facilitate hands-on courses where professionals will have practical experience with IT, and thus learn how it can be used practically in their work.

It is significant to devise an IT-strategy
None of the focus group participants had been directly and continuously taught in the use of IT and digital/social media. Participants point out that it may be a problem that IT-courses are often single-scheduled and short, and only consist of presentations which leave out possibilities for practical experience. Therefore, several focus group participants experience that using IT and media is very much a matter of taking things in their own hands, and building on experiences they already have. From the case study on daycare centres, our questionnaires, and focus groups, it is clearly necessary that the skills of professionals are upgraded so that IT and media can gain ground in the field of pedagogical and social work.

It is essential that this is not merely a one-man’s project in which fiery souls work as the sustaining force. Professionals must be introduced to various tools according to a given purpose. There is also a need to generally make an effort in the workplace, and it is important to devise an IT-strategy, both within municipal and private organisations in regards to implementation, training, the pedagogical practice, and ethical and legal aspects.

Talking to youth is not enough
Focus group participants all agreed that it is very important to keep a critical eye on work-related use of IT and media, and reflect on performed options and deselections, also applying to young people. A large number of respondents deemed important that children and young people become aware of their digital identity as well as how they relate to their own behaviour online. Our youth focus groups clearly believe, that before IT is utilised in their education, it must be used continuously, because youth also sense whether their teacher believes integrating IT in lessons is valuable or not. To young people, IT and media can be used as an alternative form of representation, where they can communicate and present content in a space that moves the focus from youth themselves to their digital product.

Also, young people could be informed and further activated in regards to web-ethics, so that they become aware that their digital behaviour online may entail consequences and influence other people or themselves. They must be equipped with the right tools to manage their online behaviour, and to handle unpleasant experiences online. This can be achieved by continuously treating these topics – both when episodes arise, and as part of young people’s general education. We got the impression, from our youth focus groups, that it is not enough to talk to young people about online “rules of the road.” They need to actively work with these rules, for instance through cases that create identification. By touching on relevant subject matters that create recognisability, the “rules of the road” become relevant to youth which eventually leads to a greater reflection on their digital behaviour.

More information
You can find case-stories, see focus group results, and results from questionnaires etc. in our full Danish report.

Also, please see produced a larger international report including an infographic summary.

screenagers13

About the project:
Screenagers is an international project that researches the use of digital and social media in the field of pedagogy. Youth Council of Northern Ireland is part of the project, basing their involvement on their experience of a reluctance toward the use of digital tools in a pedagogical practice. Centre for Digital Youth Care is part of the project alongside Youth Council of Northern Ireland, National Youth Council of Ireland, Finnish Verke, and WienXtra from Austria.

2015: Cyberhus’ chat counselling last year!

By Niels-Christian Bilenberg, pedagogical consultant, CfDP

Overall Activity

Overall activity since 2005. Please click for larger image.

What is an inquiry? An inquiry, for example, covers a chat conversation, a post in the debate forum, a picture, or a comment on a blog. The right-hand graph shows the development of Cyberhus’ collective activities since the beginning in 2005.

If we take a closer look at the total number of inquiries, we notice that young people still increasingly use Cyberhus as a platform where they mirror themselves in others and seek advice among their peers.

Increasingly Youth-to-Youth rather than Youth-to-Adult?

The graph below represents how young people’s activity on Cyberhus has developed over the past 5 years in regards to Cyberhus’ two general categories; Youth-to-Youth which accommodates Cyberhus’ Debate forum, Images, Secrets, and Blogs, and our Youth-to-Adult section which accommodates Cyberhus’ 1-1-Chat, Youth-inChat, and Problem pages.

Distribution of activity

Youth-to-Youth and Youth-to-Adult. Please click for larger image.

It may seem as though youth would rather seek advice among their peers over adult counsellors. But that is not quite the case. In order to understand this, we have to take a closer look at the numbers.

Perspectivation

The number of conversations in our 1-1-Chat has decreased significantly over the past 3 years, however the reason for this is not because of a lacking interest from youth. In 2013 we carried out 2002 conversations. In 2014, the number was 1503, and in 2015 we counted 1252 conversations.

In order to understand the decreasing numbers, they have to be viewed in perspective to the opening hours of our 1-1-Chat which were also cut down during this time. June of 2014, we had to cut down our opening hours due to lack of funding. Our 1-1-Chat is always monitored by a paid coordinator whose tasks include supporting our volunteer counsellors and as such, securing the quality of our counselling work as well as establishing a safe space for each volunteer. This change has not been fully implemented until 2015 by which time we have had “new” opening hours for a full year. The graph below shows how the number of opening hours and conversations has changed.

Chat conversations

Number of chat-hours and conversations. Please click for larger image.

In order to get a more comparable number of completed chat conversations, we have to take a look at the number of conversations we have completed per hour. Doing this, we see that we have actually succeeded in completing more conversations an hour. In both 2013 and 2014, we completed on average 1,6 conversations per hour. In 2015, we completed 2 conversations per hour, and since the average length of a conversation has not decreased, we must view the increase as an expression that we simply have had the opportunity to open more lines simultaneously. The number of volunteers is continually unchanged, but is now distributed over a less number of hours.

Not a case of fewer who chat

Although we have completed a lower number of conversations in our 1-1-Chat, the number of participants in our other chatrooms have increased correspondingly. Our group chats have had 1107 participants, which is an increase by more than 20% compared to the year 2014. Even though the focus of group chats is to give youth the opportunity to support each other, it is important to point out that at least one adult counsellor is always present.

2015 also marked the year in which we welcomed our Youth-in municipalities-collaboration. In 2015, counsellors with youth counselling of Bispebjerg started having their own chatroom on Cyberhus, targeting youth in Copenhagen. Copenhagen youth found their way to this counselling 99 times.

More chats coming

Similar to our previous years, 2015 was filled with life-affirming conversations, difficult questions, beautiful images, and bold secrets. In our group chat, we had great success inviting young people to dedicatedly participate in debates on alcohol, and 2015 also marked the year where we created a foundation to building our strived for bridge between Cyberhus’ several volunteers, and municipal initiatives targeting children and young people. This is a development we will follow closely in 2016, by which we will also see the municipalities of Ringkøbing-Skjern and Aarhus open their own chat on Cyberhus.

If you would like more information on Cyberhus’ chat-collaboration with municipalities in Denmark, please contact head of centre, Anni Marquard, anni@cfdp.dk.

When it hurts

By Signe Sandfeld Hansen, M.Sc. in Psychology and counsellor, CfDP

Bullying is a complex phenomenon, and it can be difficult to completely explain what happens, and what it means to the individual and/or group. So, we have involved our young people and created a dialogue to learn more about what youth think about bullying, what you can do to stop bullying, and why bullying takes place at all.

“As a victim of bullying, you get a sense that it’s your own fault, or that others won’t believe or understand you if you tell someone, for instance your parents or teachers”

Anonymous youth during our group chat on bullying

Group chats on bullying during January

Each week, we organised a group chat activity where young people were invited to discuss different topics related to bullying. Concurrently, we wrote 7 articles on bullying. We have articles on sexbullying, digital bullying, and a personal story about being a victim of bullying.

Thursday 7 January: What is bullying? (We take a look at bullying in general, and what happens when you bully/get bullied)

Thursday 14 January: What is digital bullying? (We talk about digital bullying, and what you can do to avoid it) – Guest expert: Jonas Ravn from Centre for Digital Youth care.

Thursday 21 January: Violent bullying (What is the difference between psychological and physical bullying? We talk about the issue of defining violent bullying, and what you can do about it)

Thursday 28 January: What can we do to prevent bullying? (We talk about what you can do when you see someone get bullied/you are bullied, and why it is hard to intervene)

The group chat is open each Thursday between 6-9 p.m., and is moderated by a counsellor from Cyberhus. This counsellor also wrote a blog post prior to Cyberhus’ January group chats, presenting the theme, and she also summarised the group chat session in a blog post following each session. The group chat also hosted guest experts who shared their professional expertise and replied to young people’s questions. The campaign was advertised on Facebook and Instagram, where youth were redirected to Cyberhus’ feature, ‘Secrets’, which linked back to Cyberhus’ group chat and blog posts.

Youth quote

Secret from Cyberhus.dk: My class is a mix of 4-6 graders, I’m the only one from 6 and I’m hitting puberty, and the others make fun of me, I feel wrong in so many ways

Participate!

The theme was well-received by youth at Cyberhus, and they actively participated in the group chat. On average, 20 young people were online in every group chat during the 3-hour session. We saw various attitudes toward, and perspectives on, bullying, and people shared their personal stories. The dialogue particularly addressed which emotions are linked to bullying, how you can avoid “hating” on social media, how groups can maintain or change a culture of bullying, and how words can hurt just as much as physical blows.

Youth also did well in supporting and acknowledging each other, and encouraging people to say stop if they, or others, got bullied. Also, feelings related to the consequences of bullying, and bullying in general, must be articulated, so we can learn more about understanding our emotions and how we respect one another. Furthermore, people agreed that we must focus on how we avoid bullying, starting during early schooling.

“There is a bully-mentality in the group that is difficult to go against. A kind of implied accept that bullying does happen”

Anonymous youth during our group chat on bullying

Youth: Assume accountability for change

More practically speaking, youth generally agreed that cultures of bullying can only be changed by creating initiatives or efforts targeting the group as a whole. Both students, parents, and teachers have to assume accountability for change. If bullying is already present, it may be a good idea to speak with all the students individually, and not just having conversations with those directly involved. It was also pointed out that it is a good idea to explain potential consequences of bullying, and have a previous victim of bullying tell their story. This way, we include both emotion, reason, and credibility.

Youth quote

Secret from Cyberhus.dk: I live with a foster family and when I was in 3rd grade, I was bullied because of it

Bullying is a very present problem, and the stories from Cyberhus’ group chat testify to very serious consequences. At Centre for Digital Youth Care and Cyberhus, we will continue making an effort to create dialogues on bullying, and give youth the opportunity to reflect on their behaviour, offline as well as online.

The campaign contributes to a larger EU-collaboration, the anti-bullying project, ENABLE.

Fore more information, please contact: signe@cfdp.dk

Meeting young people at digital eye level on bullying

By Signe Sandfeld Hansen, M.Sc. in Psychology and counsellor, CfDP & Karina Lange, Master of Arts (MA) in International Business communication & communicator, CfDP

Why a digital campaign?

The aim of our campaign was to create an open dialogue where young people would have the opportunity to reflect on their emotions, thought-processes and behavior in regards to bullying. This would apply to the one who bullies, the victim, and bystanders (the group). The campaign was based on the principles of ENABLE’s anti-bullying concept, whose purpose is to develop young people’s social and emotional skills, aiming to improve their understanding and their sense of responsibility regarding their on- and offline social interactions. ENABLE wants to fight bullying using a holistic effort concerning young people’s social lives, empathy, and their individual resilience. By making a digital campaign, we have created a dialogue with young people across school and spare time.

“As a victim of bullying, you get a sense that it’s your own fault, or that others won’t believe or understand you if you tell someone, for instance your parents or teachers”

Anonymous youth during our group chat on bullying

Centre for Digital Youth Care works daily on meeting young people at digital eye level by using digital media. The experience we have from our online counselling, Cyberhus, tells us there is a need to focus on digital efforts because they offer youth an opportunity to enter into dialogue on their own terms.

Organisation of the campaign

CfDP’s digital youth counselling, Cyberhus, operated as a bridge between young people, and each Thursday during the month of January, the group chat focused on bullying. The subject matters in the group chat were based on ENABLE modules.

Thursday 7 January 2016: What is bullying

  • Definition of bullying (and where does it take place?)
  • When does it turn into bullying?
  • What happens when someone bullies? (the individual, the group, the environment). Which “roles” exist? (victim, bully, bystander). Do I participate in bullying by not doing anything when the bullying takes place?
  • What are emotions? How do I describe how I feel? Examples of emotions (good and bad). How do I know if someone has the same experience as I do?
  • Which subjects are sensitive? (e.g. race, religion, appearance, disabilities, gender, sexuality)

 

Thursday 14 January 2016: What is digital bullying – guest counsellor: Jonas Ravn, CfDP

  • “Faceless” – How does this affect someone’s communication? (difficult to read emotions
  • Misunderstandings (intention vs. reception)
  • Digital self-harm
  • Have you ever experienced digital bullying? What did you do?
  • How do I avoid digital bullying?

 

Thursday 21 January: Violent bullying

  • Teasing, bullying, violence – what define the boundaries between those aspects?
  • Physical and psychological violence
  • Why is it difficult to act up?

 

Thursday 28 January: How can we stop bullying?

  • Peer-to-Peer Support (youth to youth network)
  • How do I take on accountability as a child or a teenager?
  • Is it easy to change behavior? (why is it difficult?)
  • How do I manage my emotions? Strategies on managing negative emotions
  • What can I do in a particular situation? What are the consequences?

 

Prior to the group chat, we posted a short blog post that focused on the theme of the following chat. The post invited people to comment and submit inputs. We also posted a blog summary after the chat session.

“There is a bully-mentality in my group that makes it difficult to cross with others. A kind of implied accept that bullying does happen”

Anonymous youth during our group chat on bullying

The counsellors’ experience with the group chat

Our group chat had on average 20 young people online during each chat session consisting of 3 hours. The chatroom hosted a lot of different perspectives on bullying and our young people shared several personal experiences. The counsellors observed that some people shared experiences they had not yet shared with others. In addition to personal accounts, the chat sessions particularly circled around issues of which emotions were associated with bullying; how can you avoid “hating” on social media; which significance applies to a certain group in relation to maintaining or changing a culture of bullying, and how can words do as much harm as physical blows.

Our young people were also proficient in supporting and acknowledging one another, as well as encouraging people to stand up for themselves if they, or someone else, got bullied. They also believed that you must verbalise feelings associated with the consequences of bullying, and the bullying itself, so that we learn more about how we can understand our emotions, and how we respect one another. Also, people agreed there must be a focus on anti-bullying starting during early school years.

Group chat as a tool

bullying_remake_by_yupiyeyo-d48fbobWe chose our group chat as a pedagogical tool, because this chatroom creates a framework under which youth are able to enter into dialogue with a counsellor or with one another. Young people may exchange experiences or advice, and they can communicate honestly without having to expose themselves, because the group chat allows full anonymity. This makes it possible for us to connect with ‘well-adjusted’ as well as vulnerable young people. Particularly in relation to vulnerable young people, our group chat offers a room in which their experiences, thoughts and emotions are taken seriously by a counsellor and/or other young people. They cannot say anything wrong in our group chat, and this may help them share more than they would have at school or at home. In other words, the group chat offers a space for young people who normally do not have much space to begin with.

When young people are allowed to absorb their space and contribute their own knowledge, it seems that some sort of informal learning between young people is taking place. The informal learning can be viewed from two angles. First and foremost, there seems to be an aspect of social-learning because our young people are doing well at moderating each other and speak out if their boundaries are breached. This way, they communicate what they want and what they do not want in a social context.

Second, apparently there is an aspect of emotional learning due to the fact that our young people are taken seriously. A lot of people we meet on Cyberhus, have almost no experiences of being taken seriously – be it by other young people or adults. So, they experience a growing insecurity regarding their faith in their own emotions and thoughts.

At Cyberhus, they are taken seriously. They are met with care and respect. Therefore, our group chat may help young people trust their own words more and enable them to participate in the debate on bullying in the physical room, e.g. at school or in their youth club.

Additional communication

Our blog and group chat have very much operated as part of our campaign which recognises that bullying happens in varying degrees and expresses itself in a variety of ways. The more informative part of our communication material for young people consist of articles posted on Cyberhus. They are still available in Cyberhus’ articles archive, and entail information on e.g. different types of bullying (violent bullying, sex bullying, digital bullying), whom to address if you experience bullying, and a success story on someone who managed to come out on the other side of bullying.

The function of the articles have been flexible meaning that if someone asked a question in the chat room, e.g. concerning bullying at school or digital bullying, we wrote an article on that subject. This way, we were able to meet our young people and show them that we listen. As already mentioned, it is of utmost importance to us that young people are taken seriously.

Future plans for our project

Bullying is a major issue and the stories from our group chat testify that bullying results in very serious consequences. At CfDP and Cyberhus, we will continue to make an effort to create dialogues on the issue of bullying and provide young people opportunities to reflect on their behaviour, in real life and online. This effort include ongoing group chats, and blog posts on bullying.

Our group chat has particularly addressed how bullying can be stopped and how young people, parents, and pedagogical staff as a unit, must collaborate more focused on the fight against bullying. Therefore, in the future it could be interesting to receive practical ideas from young people on how a given group culture could be changed, along with young people’s views on initiatives inherent in the ENABLE modules, with an aim to improve and target those initiatives. All in all, it has been an exciting process which has had a positive impact on groups of young people. Also, our campaign has managed to create an intended dialogue on bullying. Therefore, we consider our campaign a success, however, we unfortunately face a long road before coming to grips with bullying.

More information on the project can be obtained by contacting Signe Sandfeld Hansen by mail, signe@cfdp.dk or by phone, +0045 86370400.

The campaign is developed in collaboration with ENABLE.

See .pdf version of this article.

Successful digital campaign on alcohol

By Signe Sandfeld Hansen, M.Sc. in Psychology and counsellor & project coordinator, CfDP

Alcohol campaigns are often reputed to be difficult to implement successfully, and particularly with young people, there is a general tendency to prefer drinking alcohol than having a dialogue about it. By using CfDP’s online youth club (Cyberhus.dk) as part of the campaign, young people have had the opportunity to communicate across ages and geographic residence, as well as ask questions anonymously to professionals specialising in the use of alcohol. It has also been possible to continually adapt the content of the campaign relative to the collected data from our young people.

The opportunity for anonymity helped several young people share unpleasant thoughts or experiences

The alcohol campaign was marketed with Facebook ads targeting young people in Denmark, aged 15-20. The ads were shown to 132,000 people, and 12,900 people then clicked the ads. When someone clicked the ad, they were redirected to Cyberhus.dk’s “Secrets” page. “Secrets” invites young people to share a short secret (max 150 characters). The feature is anonymous which means that someone can share unpleasant thoughts or experiences without having to expose themselves. During the period of our campaign, young people were invited to share their secrets on alcohol, and 400 secrets were shared during that period.

Youth and alcohol

Danish secrets shared on Cyberhus.dk

Apart from Facebook ads and “Secrets”, our campaign has used Cyberhus.dk’s other digital features of counselling: youth blogs, articles, forum and group chats. The articles represented the alcohol-critical part of our presentation and consisted among others of topics such as “harmful consequences of alcohol”, and “where do I turn to when thing go south.” A total of 10 articles were written, and each article linked to our discussion forum. The articles were read 545 times.

Group chat – our primary feature of counselling

The group chat was our primary function of counselling during the campaign. The group chat is open each Thursday from 6-9 p.m., and normally runs without a specific theme. The group chat gives young people the opportunity to anonymously share experiences and knowledge with each other. A counsellor, who also serves as a moderator, is always present in the group chat.

During the campaign (November 2015) 116 young people participated in our group chat which presented various themes related to young people and alcohol. Furthermore, we invited different guest counsellors to our chat who each had knowledge about different aspects on the subject:

5 November Theme: Alcohol for better or worse.
Guest counsellor: a young person.

12 November Theme: Myths about alcohol.
Mads Uffe Pedersen, Centre for Alcohol and Drug Research.

19 November Theme: Alcohol dependency and abuse.
Guest counsellor: Pia Møller, Centre for Alcohol Treatment.

26 November Theme: Alcohol culture of youth.
Guest counsellors: Nynne Frederiksen and Anne Sofie Christensen, ”Drunk on Life” campaign.

Digital media is an effective tool to communicate information about alcohol to young people

The overall results of our campaign (see Danish report below for specific data), support our view that digital media has been an effective tool to communicate information about alcohol to young people, and getting young people to talk about their use of alcohol. Young people themselves have also responded well to the theme and design of our campaign evidenced by comments on our blog and in our group chat.

Also, professionals have responded well to our campaign, among others at after-work meetings. Pia Møller Nielsen, alcohol treatment provider and social worker, (participated in our group chat as guest counsellor), says among other things: “Young people are great at encouraging one another, and they create a unique room for reflection where they choose what to contribute, and what to leave aside. It is so important to have a room that is encompassing to who you are, especially when you may not feel comfortable speaking about what is close to your heart, and about that which you may feel is taboo, elsewhere.”

Relevant to further develop digital campaigns

Centre for Digital Youth Care encourages further development of digital campaigns and advertising, and that they be used for other themes relating to physical and mental health. We also assess that it is relevant to create more initiatives targeting professionals who work with young people in order that this way of creating dialogue is used progressively in areas other than just prevention (e.g., in treatment or counselling). For example, it could be an after-work meeting focusing on the use of digital media as networks of support in order to prevent relapse following treatment, or training courses of how to facilitate digital counselling for vulnerable children and young people.

A psychologist, specialising in youth and drugs, was responsible for the content of the campaign, and also functioned as our primary counsellor in the group chat.Digital Youth Campaign on Alcohol

Centre For Digital Youth Care has collaborated on this campaign with:

The Social Work of KFUM (YMCA) Centre for Alcohol and Drug ResearchThe Danish Cancer Society, “Drunk on Life” campaignCentre for Alcohol Treatment

The municipality of Copenhagen is successful with their digital counselling for young people

By Lousin Hartmann, communicator, CfDP

Today, young people are digital. That is a fact. With that in consideration, the municipality of Copenhagen chose to offer digital counselling in collaboration with cyberhus.dk, hoping to reach more people, during a trial period from November 2014 until July 2015. Cyberhus.dk receives on average 1,200 visitors from all corners of the country each day – among others Copenhagen. A number that speaks for itself, and which contributed to the municipality of Copenhagen stepping forward into digital counselling.

Anonymity and availability give access to more young people

According to section 11, paragraph 2 of the Service Act, all municipalities in Denmark must be able to offer anonymous counselling to anyone. In most of Denmark’s municipalities, the paragraph is managed by offering counselling in person. Digital counselling is, on the other hand, defined by being ‘faceless’, and thus absolutely anonymous; a form of counselling that is not offered too many places as of yet, and which may mean that a lot of teenagers are left with no support. Johnny Szumlanski, youth counsellor at Bispebjerg in the municipality of Copenhagen, knows about this issue all too well.

Johnny has observed young people wandering back and forth in front of the big windows of ‘Gadeplan’ (On the street) where he works. “They are walking around, gathering the courage to enter our (physical) counselling. And sometimes they end up not coming in,” says Johnny Szumlanski who sometimes find it difficult to reach those young people who do not feel like visiting their physical counselling. “Our youth counselling is supposed to be available to everyone, not just the ones who find the courage to show up at our door. Some of our young people may feel limited in their anonymity when they have to show up personally. It requires a lot from them, and ideally all young people, who would like to get in touch with our counselling, do so,” says Johnny Szumlanski.

Johnny Szumlanski sees how their digital counselling opens up to a target group of young people who very likely would have gone unnoticed otherwise. And the reason why their digital counselling is a success, is obvious: “Using a computer in the comfort of your own home requires less effort than finding one’s way to our physical counselling, and this way we reach young people, who we would otherwise not be able to reach,” says Johnny Szumlanski, and refers to the fact that the physical as well as the mental distance inherently is shortened – with a single click.

Copenhagen chat at Cyberhus.dk

Being present among young people

Cyberhus.dk is a vast universe for young people, and Cyberhus noticed a significant influx of young people from Copenhagen, counting 11,000 annual visits. “Young people are already using cyberhus.dk, and the fact that our chatroom is present on cyberhus, too, makes it easier for people to stop by”, says Johnny Szumlanski, explaining why the municipality of Copenhagen has connected with cyberhus.dk. Anchoring online youth counselling locally and offering a digital lifeline in municipalities, is important because young people need to be in touch with someone from their neighborhood who knows about their area, and who is able to guide them in the direction of other supportive measures in their municipality, Johnny Szumlanski explains.

During their trial period, the municipality of Copenhagen received their own chat line on cyberhus.dk, dedicated to youth in Copenhagen between the ages of 13-17. The chat line’s opening hours totalled 130 hours allocated on a couple of weekdays. “It worked,” says Szumlanski and explains: “During our trial period, we have been in contact with approximately 60 young people. It may not sound like much, but it is,” Szumlanski says, and explains further that during the last 3 months of their trial period, the number of inquiries doubled. This number should be viewed relative to the fact that their physical youth counselling received 177 first-time inquiries during the entire year of 2014, including inquiries resulting from outreach services of youth counsellors at Bispebjerg,
and opening hours being all weekdays. “I am quite certain that we would not have received our 60 inquiries, had we not had the opportunity to offer our digital anonymous counselling,” says Johnny Szumlanski.

Online counselling in line with young people

Most people know that teenagers are sensitive individuals. For this reason, Johnny Szumlanski adds that youth counsellors can always better their understanding of young people and develop their methods used to interact with them: “Teenagers are vulnerable people, and they care about what other people think of them, and therefore they are more careful that others will not figure out what happens around them. And so, it requires a lot before they make contact with us,” Johnny Szumlanski says and emphasises the importance of letting the counselling take place in line with the youngsters themselves – in their element. Here, in our digital space.

Answering the question whether or not it is possible at all to create presence with young people through the screen, Johnny Szumlanski says that it is definitely possible when using the right choice of wording and an open-minded approach, characterised by the ability to listen and being solution-oriented. However, the meeting is prone to be more “harsh” online than in the physical counselling, because the ones you are speaking to have the ability to log off anytime. “But that is also okay, because they have taken the first step, and they know that they are welcome back to our chatroom.” So, Johnny Szumlanski has no doubt that online counselling is the right direction for municipalities in the future, as a supplement to the physical counselling. “We are dealing with the google generation. They google everything – also when they find life difficult. Young people move around online, thus contact with young people can be established online,” Johnny Szumlanski states and adds that he sees great potential in developing digital counsellings accommodating other needs, for instance counsellings targeting relatives and young people over the age of 18.

Anti-bullying material and guides for Helplines

By Jonas Ravn, speaker and project manager, CfDP

Centre for Digital Youth Care has been a contributor of Danish insight and experiences from our own counselling, and several years of educating pupils, parents, and professionals. As national Helpline it has also been our task to inform other European Helplines about the tools of ENABLE. Are you interested in promoting well-being at schools and leisure environments? Then you may want to read more about some of ENABLE’s insights below.

New release

A few weeks ago, a collective “book” about ENABLE’s structure, and how you as a professional can get started using the many resources, was released. The book contains information about social and emotional learning as a method, and how you may initiate a pupils’ network at school, and how you generally apply modules and material from ENABLE. The book is available online:

ENABLE has also supplied a complete updated list of knowledge and programmes in Europe. At http://enable.eun.org/report you will find a complete overview of the prevelances and initiatives in various countries of Europe, along with a visual summary of key trends.

Cyberhus as Helpline

The European helplines is a network of institutions of knowledge and counselling that share experiences in a variety of areas.

As described in this article, one of the main causes of inquiries to European helplines is bullying. Therefore, this subject is also of great professional relevance. It is our view that a lot of countries lack useful programmes which are holistic in their approach to well-being and bullying. Therefore, the material of ENABLE has also been well received in many countries already.

Denmark has got committed ambassadors from SSP (crime prevention cooperation between Social Services, School and Police in relation to children and adolescents under 18 years of age) and AKT (Behaviour, Contact and Welfare) in the cities of Randers and Middelfart. Together, we have agreed to focus on the “peer support” programme – ie establishing a pupils’ network used to effectively strengthen pupils’ well-being in the classroom. We also use our own counselling, Cyberhus, to focus on well-being outside of the school (at Cyberhus, we often meet children outside of their school environment).

A few weeks back, we took part of a webinar which included 15 European helplines, during which we talked about ENABLE’s many possibilities, and how we have chosen to use some of ENABLE’s available resources. In this respect, we have produced a short animation that serves as an introduction to our teaching of European helplines. Please feel free to take a look at the animation below:

If you are interested in ENABLE or have any questions about the material, please contact:

Jonas Ravn, jonas@cfdp.dk or Niels-Christian, nc@cfdp.dk.

Meeting young people at Digital eye level – Life online

By Signe Sandfeld Hansen, M.Sc. in Psychology and counsellor & project coordinator, CfDP

SID 2016 banner

Why a digital campaign?

The aim of our digital campaign is to create an open dialogue where young people have the opportunity to reflect on their own online-behavior, and also to present them with an eye opener as to how they are exposed to hidden advertisements, and information on how their personal data may be subject to (ab)use online.

CfDP works daily on meeting young people at eye level concerning their use of digital media. The experience we have from our online counselling, Cyberhus, tells us there is a need for focusing on digital efforts because it offers youth an opportunity to enter into dialogue on their own terms. It may provide opportunities for young people to communicate honestly without exposing themselves, and this may help reach both ‘well-adjusted’ and vulnerable young people. Therefore, digital initiatives can help create opportunities for better prevention and early counselling, both in relation to online issues, such as digital bullying and failed internet purchases, and other themes relating to mental health during youth.

How is the campaign organised?

The campaign is divided into different elements that address young people directly as well as those professions that work with young people. CfDP’s digital youth counselling, Cyberhus, operates as a bridge-builder among young people, and each thursday during the month of February, Cyberhus hosts a group chat debating various themes pertaining to young people’s life online.

Thursday 4 February @ 6-9 p.m.: Are you crazy about social media? Featuring Jonas Sindal from CfDP, speaker on digital well-being.

Thursday 11 February @ 6-9 p.m.: Do you play computer games? Featuring Jesper Krogh Kristiansen, gaming developer and consultant.

Thursday 18 February @ 6-9 p.m.: Are you private online? Featuring Pernille Tranberg, data-ethical consultant from Digital Identity.

Thursday 25 February @ 6-9 p.m.: Can you spot a bargain online? Featuring Lea Markersen, legal expert from the Danish consumer council Think.

Before Cyberhus’ group chat, we will post a blog focusing on a given theme of the following chat and invite our young people to comment or provide other input. After the chat, we will post another blog which shortly summarises what the chat-session addressed.

For young people

Cyberhus’ blog and group chat greatly act as part of the campaign that recognises that the internet entail social and positive aspects that appeal to young people. The more heavyset information, and partly critical parts of the campaign’s material for our young people, consist of articles posted on Cyberhus. The articles include information on how to change your privacy settings, what characterise different social media, and digital bullying. The function of the articles are flexible which means that if someone asks a lot of questions concerning e.g. anonymity online or online counselling, an article will be written on that subject. So, we meet our young people and show them that we listen: They are taken seriously.

In each article, we link to Cyberhus’ debate forums where young people can voice their opinions. Also, we offer options for young people to chat about their experiences online ‘youth-to-youth’ in the group chat, and they can also ask different experts questions.

For professionals

The part of our campaign, which is aimed at professionals who work with young people, include this particular article along with a short conclusive report on the campaign. The report will, among other things, give an overview of which subject matters appealed most to our young people, the degree of participation in the chatroom, and the effect of our Facebook advertising.

About Safer Internet Day 2016

The campaign is developed in collaboration with the The Media Council for Children and Young People in connection with Safer Internet Day 2016. Safer Internet Day is celebrated in more than 100 countries across the world. Again in 2016, there is a focus on being united on creating a better internet for everyone, particularly for children and young people. Read more about the activities taking place all over the world on the website for The Media Council for Children and Young People. Follow Safer Internet Day #Iplaymypart #Playyourpart #SID2016.

If you would like to learn more about this project, please contact Signe Sandfeld Hansen by email signe@cfdp.dk or phone +45 8637 0400.

We collaborate with

medieraadet_dk

in connection with Safer Internet Day 2016

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Primary school is of crucial importance to pupils’ digital education

By Camilla Tang Jensen, communicator, CfDP

liviskolen_digitaldannelse

Life at School

Social media plays an an ever increasing role for children and young people – both at school and outside of school. However, although pupils today are born almost carrying a smartphone, they are not necessarily aware of the moral considerations that should be taken into account when spending time on social media. Navigating our digital reality requires digital education – this is confirmed time and time again by media that often confront us with cases such as the ‘Viborg files’; cases that are evident to the fact how bad things can unfold if youngsters are not reflecting on when/how they misuse rather than use social media.

Furthermore, more and more schools are forced to take a stand on online bullying, nude pictures, inappropriate self-representation on social media, and other issues that clearly present a need for instituting media ethics at school, Jonas Ravn states, project manager with CfDP. For more than 8 years, Jonas has travelled to primary schools all over Denmark, teaching pupils, teachers, and parents about net ethics and digital education.

“For several years, there’s been a focus on well-being at schools in terms of not pushing each other in the school yard. But you must not push each other digitally either. Children must be aware that just because their relationships on social media take place virtually, they entail the same reactions. When you are not able to see another person’s reaction, you don’t notice if something you say hurts someone else. However, by the fact you cannot see each other does not mean you are free to write anything you want – it still afflicts the person on the other end,” explains Jonas Ravn.

Teachers have to speak about digital education with pupils

Talking about digital education has been a school task for a long time. As of summer 2015, this task has been further strengthened as a result from the new reform of Danish primary schools. The new Common Goals tighten the requirements of pupils’ digital skills – and thus, also that of teachers who must help equip pupils for our digital age. Therefore, we experience a growing need for teachers to become equipped to talk about digital well-being and net ethics with pupils.

“Schools have always had an educational responsibility, and this continues even though daily life ever increasingly takes place on social media. I feel that there is an uncertainty associated with speaking about social media if teachers feel that their pupils know more about the subject than they do. But do not be afraid to talk about digital education with pupils just because you do not have a Facebook profile or know what Snapchat is. Because that is not the issue. It’s about life proficiency and education in general, and adults just have far greater knowledge in this regard.

Pupils are digital natives in the sense that they quickly familiarise themselves with social media, but that does not mean that they are in control of ethics and morality. Hence, they need to get a better understanding of human relations on social media, which is something that teachers may provide,” explains Jonas Ravn, and continues: “The biggest challenge that teachers are faced with is understanding how young people utilise social media because it requires that you get acquainted with their ways of being social and interacting, and gathering some information about social media – but pupils can assist with that.”

Openness and trust are key elements when working with digital education. It is about creating a culture where children find it natural to turn to adults if they experience any conflicts. Pupils need adult role models to show them the way and who encourage them to think about how they use social media. That’s why it is important that teachers are equipped to speak with pupils, and that they establish a healthy net culture – this is exactly what Jonas Ravn hopes to get across on his school visits. The purpose of Jonas’ school presentations is to generate discussion and reflection among pupils, and have them think about moral dilemmas and consequences arising from using social media:

“I believe a lot of it is about activating a class culture and creating a better understanding of the fact that, ‘everyone doesn’t necessarily agree with me.’ Pupils must be aware that our boundaries are different, and they have to learn to be attentive to when they step over the boundaries of themselves or those of other people – this is of utmost importance when learning to interact on social media, and can lead to an ethically proper online-behavior,” says Jonas Ravn.

You won’t tell anyone, okay?

By Camilla Tang Jensen, communicator, CfDP

“Hi, and welcome to our chat.” This is how Linea Pretzmann always initiates the conversation when meeting a young person on Cyberhus. “We always start out by welcoming our young people and letting them know that they should feel free to talk about anything on Cyberhus – including issues that are really difficult to talk about. And that we are not telling others,” says Linea. Linea Pretzmann has been a counsellor with Cyberhus for three years. Each year, she helps counsel and guide more than 8,000 children and young people in Denmark about everything from heart-aches to eating-disorders, violence and abuse:

Anonymous chat counselling

Photo: Gorm Olesen

“Cyberhus offers counselling for all young people, and this also means that we meet youngsters, each carrying their very own issues. I’ll meet 12-year-old Nikolaj who thinks a girl is cute, and then I’ll meet someone who has been victim of sexual abuse, violence or other types of abuse – maybe on the same day they are making their request to Cyberhus,” Linea Pretzmann explains.

Young people are often alone with their problems

Linea Pretzmann experiences that a lot of children and young people, with whom she is in contact, are struggling all alone. Some of them have tried talking to an adult with no result, and others are carrying issues so heavy that they are afraid to share them with someone else:

“Typically, young people who join our chat feel isolated. They feel like they don’t have anywhere else to go – either because it’s been quite awhile since they have talked to others about their problems, or because they have tried talking to someone but have been rejected. For instance, I was chatting with a girl who, after a while, wrote: ‘But you probably won’t listen either!’ And this is a very common remark from our youngsters. Therefore, our most important task as counsellors is being an adult the youngster can trust – because typically they do not trust other adults,” says Linea Pretzmann.

“It is often difficult for counsellors to reach groups of isolated youngsters – precisely because they feel let down and do not trust adults. So, they find it difficult to open up and share their problems with others,” Linea Pretzmann explains.

Anonymous chat counselling

Photo: Gorm Olesen

Anonymity is the most important factor

A fair amount of youngsters, who seek out Cyberhus’ chat counselling, are scared of what consequences may arise if they tell others about their problems. This particularly applies to young people who have been victims of violence or abuse from someone they know, for instance a parent. The fear of what might happen to them, or to the person who has done the abuse, is very present. Therefore, it is vital that Cyberhus’ chat counselling is anonymous, Linea Pretzmann deems. She is convinced there would be a large group of young people that counsellors would not be able to reach, had their chat counselling not been anonymous:

“Their greatest fear is what they share will find its way to other people. So, youngsters often begin by writing: ‘You won’t tell anyone, okay?’ And they ask me who I am, and whether I will pass on their information to someone. Usually, we encourage our young people to address their city counsel, but this is really difficult for them because they are not able to remain anonymous, and generally they are scared of what might happen to them or to their parent after telling someone. For these reasons, I believe it is extremely difficult to reach youngsters, who have had horrible experiences, unless we offer anonymous chat – and when interacting in our chatroom there is no risk that we pass on their secret.”

Many youngsters feel guilt and shame about what have happened to them. So, often it is easier for them to write about their problems in a chatroom rather than telling an adult face-to-face.

“It feels taboo-breaking for many of our young people to make contact with a physical counselling. It requires greater investment than that of entering a chatroom where you are able to sit in comfortable surroundings of your own room, and quickly log out again if you feel overwhelmed. For many of our youngsters, the road to a physical counselling therefore feels longer, and they may change their minds several times before they arrive,” explains Linea Pretzmann and stresses: “Thus, the anonymity on Cyberhus is the single most important factor. I am absolutely convinced that precisely the anonymity helps attract so many young people,” Linea concludes.

Are you empathetic? Prove it!

By Jonas Sindal, consultant and project manager, CfDP

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Business and young people working together to improve opportunities for young people entering the job market.

When you are young and applying for your first job, it can be extremely difficult to visualise the skills and abilities that are, in fact, most important to an employer. If you do not have any work experience to refer to, one’s CV is apt to quickly become a collection of empty set phrases.

However, many young people have lots to offer. They have spent the first 15-25 years of their lives becoming whole people, learning social skills, language, and a variety of other complex skills that are merely waiting to be put into play in a leisure, study -, summer holiday or full-time job.

Uncertainty and rejections

The importance of one’s first job is great for a young person. After several years of school, it feels like a quantum leap suddenly making your own money, or having to be responsible to an employer and often also customers. But if you lack the proper network to draw on, this process can also be full of uncertainty and rejections.

This autumn, CfDP has teamed with British YouthNet with a focus on developing digital courses that will help increase young people’s awareness of their inherent resources while also increasing the visibility of these resources to potential employers. When completing the course, participants will receive a digital badge that can be inserted into their CV/website. The phenomenon of ‘digital badging’ is growing abroad, but in Denmark it is still relatively unknown.

The most important quality

First, we develop a single badge which hopefully will be the start of a new trend concerning young people’s skills. The digital course should be free and available to everyone. The specific design is underway, and we have implemented a creative workshop involving a group of young people and representatives from the business community to find out what resources the two parties felt would be important to highlight in order to boost job prospects.

The most popular features that the young party of our workshop focussed on were empathy and tact. Properties which, according to our young people, are as important as they are difficult to convey in a resume or in an interview. Our business representatives favored perseverance as an important quality.

What is People Skills?

Over christmas, CfDP and YouthNet will collaborate on developing our first badge which can best be described as ‘People Skills’. But how would a course in empathy be carried out? A young person from our workshop suggested that you could show a series of complex facial expressions and ask participants of the course to put into words how the pictured person may feel. Another task may be reading a short piece of text about a conflict and then having to describe in words how the involved parties may have felt.

We look forward to venture further into the actual design of the first course. Obviously, empathy is a challenging skill to acquire from an E-course, so initially our aim is to make young people aware of their inherent resources, rather than learning them from scratch.

Enthusiasm for the concept

At the workshop, it was clear from the start that no one had heard of digital badging, and only one in five had tried taking a digital course. All participant, however, agreed that they would be very interested in taking a course if it was free and aimed at young people. Several of them could easily imagine sharing a badge on facebook and possibly attach a badge as part of their email signature.

The participants were convinced that digital badging would become common in the future, and they looked forward to being able to compose their own palette of badges in order to show their full breadth of job-relevant properties.

Learn more about Skills Connect: cfdp.dk/skills-connect-2/

This project is funded by the ERASMUS Programme

Counsellors and youths welcome new chat counselling

By Camilla Tang Jensen, communicator, CfDP

“A greater number of young people have made their way to our chat counselling than any number we have ever had come through our physical counselling,” says Johnny Szumlanski who is the chat counsellor responsible of Bispebjerg chat counselling. Szumlanski and other counsellors from Bispebjerg have evaluated their new chat counselling, and it has been warmly received by counsellors as well as youngsters.

“Offering chat counselling, we are now able to provide our youngsters with an option that is completely different from other counsellings. We can offer young people a continuing chat conversation where they are able to arrange a new session with the same counsellor they have already met in our chatroom and to whom they might have built some trust. Also, we have the opportunity to meet our youngsters face-to-face if such a need arises – no other chat counselling offers that opportunity,” explains Johnny Szumlanski.


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Cyberhus.dk where Copenhagen offer their anonymous chat counselling


A growing need for digital youth counselling

Bispebjerg’s chat counselling is an example of a new collaboration opportunity which Cyberhus have presented to municipal youth counsellings. Bispebjerg’s chatroom is open twice a week, and even though there has not been much marketing, youngsters have still found their way to the chatroom every time a youth counsellor has been present and ready to chat. Johnny Szumlanski says that the Bispebjerg-chat is an effort to meet a growing need in children and young people, with whom they are in daily contact, and which they have been aware of for quite some time:

“I’m experiencing a great need for us, the youth counsellors, to start using digital media when counselling children and young people. Youngsters do not get less digital over time – on the contrary. And as counsellors, we have to meet our young people where they are. Our chat counselling offers youngsters better opportunities for getting in contact with us – particularly young people who find it difficult to visit our physical counselling in person,” says Johnny Szumlanski. Szumlanski also explains that youngsters are already requesting more resources in the chatroom. For instance, someone wrote and asked if it was possible for Bispebjerg counselling to have more counsellors available in the chatroom, because one day he had waited more than 30 min. for his turn.

Anonymous chat is a platform for new questions

Johnny Szumlanski explains that a completely new group of young people are asking new types of questions after having started Bispebjerg chat counselling. For instance, a greater number of young guys are seeking advice and asking questions about emotions and sex, which is something the counsellors of Bispebjerg have never experienced:

“I’ve been a youth counsellor for 15 years, so I’ve spoken to hundreds of young people, and I have never heard a boy ask questions about sex and feelings, unless it’s a boy that I’ve known very well and for a long time. It’s a subject that boys typically find very difficult to talk about. That is why we’ve never had such requests from boys before. However, that has changed now that we’re offering chat counselling,” says Johnny Szumlanski.

Young people ask questions in chat counsellings which they do not put forward face-to-face. Johnny Szumlanski explains that the reason for this is the fact that chat counselling is anonymous, and thus boundaries are pushed regarding young people’s forwardness with counsellors. Youngsters therefore feel more safe sharing their emotions and talking about subject matters which they do not bring to light somewhere else.

“For example, a guy chatted about his girlfriend problems. He wrote that he felt upset and that he was not able to sleep at night because he was thinking about a girl. He did not know if this girl liked him, and he was in great doubt what he should do. Of course, this is one of our more “lightweight” questions, but it is still something that means a lot to young people in their teenage lives,” says Johnny Szumlanski, and continues:

”We also had a 15-year-old guy who wrote us. He’d been going steady with his girlfriend for some time, and they wanted to sleep together, but she was not 15 until another two months. They REALLY liked each other, he wrote in capital letters, so they found it difficult to wait. But at the same time, he was afraid what might happen, because he knew that sex before 15 years of age is illegal.”

According to Johnny Szumlanski, all gives evidence to the fact that chat counselling helps boys open up. However, although chat counselling generally invites young people to talk about new types of issues, Johnny Szumlanski explains that a great number of youngsters also address issues which Bispebjerg’s counsellors are familiar with from their youth counselling.


Cyberhus.dk

Copenhagen’s chat counselling on Cyberhus.dk


Digital media creates new challenges

As part of their co-operation agreement, Cyberhus has helped prepare Bispebjerg’s chat counsellors to give counsel via digital media and meeting different challenges that may arise. Also, Bispebjerg continues its dialogue with Cyberhus and receives professional sparring from Cyberhus-counsellors. Johnny Szumlanski does not hide the fact that they step into new territory and that it is different to counsel young people via digital media, but that does not scare him.

”Of course it’s new and different to give counsel in a chatroom, but basically we would like young people to reflect – as they do when we speak to a youngster in our physical counselling. And you continue to be educated,” says Johnny Szumlanski:

”As a youth counselling, we must open our doors the best way possible to be able to meet our young people when they reach out, and in order that they receive their preferred type of counselling. This way, we ensure that we reach and help more young people out there. So far, we have a 10 time greater success rate with our chat counselling than that of our physical counterpart, and this clearly shows that our chat counselling is popular among young people, so we will definitely continue,” Szumlanski concludes.

Stop Bullying: ENABLE Hackathon

By Anni Marquard, Head of centre, CfDP

We would like to give thanks for being announced one of the winners of the ENABLE Hackathon; young people all over the world were given the opportunity to contribute their own solutions and ideas on how to stop bullying. Below, you can take a look at the video which the Hackathon-team of Cyberhus (Denmark) submitted to the ENABLE Hackathon:

100 young people between the ages of 9-17 and 35 mentors from 15 different countries
For many children and young people today bullying can be a very challenging issue, but rarely do they get the chance to respond to that challenge by designing their own solutions that could be implemented on a broad scale. Responding to the challenge has been the objective of the ENABLE Hackathon which invited young people, together with an adult mentor, to reflect on the causes and process of bullying and use their creative and coding skills to propose solutions.

Well over 100 young people aged 9-17 years and 35 mentors from 15 different countries worldwide participated in the Hackathon which was launched in June 2015. The Hackathon closed in September and ENABLE received more than 30 anti-bullying tools and testimonials as submissions.

We are happy to announce that the 6 top teams are: Denmark (Animoto), Germany (an App), the Netherlands (Peer Project), Costa Rica (Treelp), Egypt (S!BB) and Ukraine (Presentation).

These teams will gather, face-to-face and virtually, at Facebook London next Tuesday morning to meet with pupils, parents, press, decision-makers, teachers and experts to demonstrate their solutions and receive recognition for their efforts. Equally importantly, the Hackathon submissions have provided a wealth of information about how young people would like to tackle bullying.

3 things that will help shape our work
Janice Richardson, coordinator of ENABLE and member of Facebook’s Safety Advisory Board, assisted at the jury meeting: “The solutions proposed through the Hackathon highlighted 3 things that will help shape our work in the coming year. Young people are grappling with the concept of empathy, which underlines the need to improve social and emotional learning in schools, and they don’t seem to think that teachers or parents can help them find solutions when they are troubled by bullying. Lastly, they place little focus on addressing the behaviour of the bully.”

Releasing research report
Today ENABLE is also releasing a research report at http://enable.eun.org that highlights the importance of all 3 lessons learned from the Hackathon and provides the foundation on which the ENABLE approach is built. Immediately following the Hackathon showcase event in London, 25 ambassadors from a half dozen countries will take part in a 2-day training session where they will learn to implement Social and Emotional Learning in schools, and implement a holistic approach that involves activities for pupils, but also for parents and teachers. The training will also tackle the delicate issue of working with bullies, since research has shown us that, in up to 60% of cases (Olweus), bullying behaviour as a child can be a predictor for deviant or violent behaviour as an adult.

ENABLE strives to contribute to the wellbeing of ALL young people, both on- and offline; it is supported by associate partners from the industry and guided by an advisory board of 12 international experts.

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Have you been nude online? New material for children and young people

By Jonas Ravn, speaker and project manager, CfDP

Action as well as prevention

There may be numerous reasons why children and young people send intimate pictures of themselves. For example, someone may want to show that they trust their boy/girlfriend, or that they are brave, or they may simply want to show off their new bikini, not considering that others may abuse their picture. Our new material provides practical tools for children and young people who have experienced their intimate pictures being shared. It may also be used for prevention and for various learning contexts.

Order free booklets or download our material (in Danish)

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The material is made in a collaboration between Centre for Digital Youth Care, Save the Children Denmark, and the Media Council for Children and Young People. It consists of a small printed booklet, “So you got naked online?”, and a more extensive online version.

The booklet provides practical information on how children and young people may get help to deal with their situation, how to regain control, and ensure a good digital reputation in the future.

Download our material online or order free booklets for 6-8 graders at Save the Children Denmark.

So you got naked online – large – (you can also download the pdf)

So you got naked online – mini version – (you can also download the pdf)

The Danish booklet is a revised version of the English material from South West Grid for Learning. It is produced by Save the Children Denmark, Centre for Digital Youth Care, and the Media Council for Children and Young People (Safer Internet Centre Denmark) with financial support from the EU.

Download the original material in English from South West Grid for Learning

booklet

So you got naked online… – toolkit (pdf)

So you got naked online… – flyer (pdf)

These are the original booklets produced by South West Grid for Learning. We appreciate the opportunity to be able to use the material by South West Grid for Learning for our Danish versions of “So you got naked” ressources.

Presence through the screen?

Johnny Szumlanski and Linea Pretzmann are both chat counsellors at respectively Bispebjerg youth counselling and Cyberhus.dk. In their counselling, they meet young people who experience everything from heartaches and genital warts to serious violence and sexual assault. But regardless of the seriousness of the young person’s problems, the two chat counsellors see no problems in creating presence when giving counsel via digital media.

“You can easily be empathetic and present even though you cannot look each other in the eye. Naturally, you create presence in a chat room in other ways than you would in a physical setting. When our young people show up at Bispebjerg youth counselling, the presence is immediate when they enter the door; I welcome them and ask if they would like something to drink. Obviously, I do not have that option in a chat room. So I create presence by the way I write to our young people,” says Johnny Szumlanski, who together with his colleagues, has advised children and young people at Bispebjerg youth counselling via chat since December 2014.

Many counsellors are nervous they won’t be able to read young people’s signals when they cannot see their facial expressions. Linea Pretzmann has been a youth counsellor with Cyberhus for 3 years, and she agrees with Johnny Szumlanski. She believes you should not be afraid that you cannot create a relationship with young people or read their signals via anonymous chat:

“It actually does not require great, complicated therapeutic techniques. It’s about accommodating our youngsters and their problems, and meeting them in their difficulties. We obviously cannot see the young person to whom we give counsel via chat. So we always ask how they are doing, and we ask questions such as: ‘Is it okay that I ask you about this? If it becomes too much for you, or if I’m asking questions you don’t want to answer, then feel free to say no – it’s perfectly okay,” explains Linea Pretzmann concerning some considerations underlying Cyberhus’ chat counselling.

Openness, inclusiveness and recognition

Linea Pretzmann and Johnny Szumlanski both explain that openness, inclusiveness, and recognition are keywords that identify how they chat with young people, and they both believe that these aspects are crucial for creating meaningful relationships with young people. Johnny Szumlanski says that it is largely through questions, directed at the young people seeking counselling, that he makes the conversation present. That is why he is always very attentive to how he formulates his questions:

“I am very focussed that I ask questions that are non-judgemental, open, appreciative and which provides the youngster some needed space. Our youngsters must first and foremost be allowed to share difficult issues. Furthermore, I ask about what our young people have at heart, and I’m curious about what they are telling me. This is how I let them know that I care – even though they can’t see me. And when you care about someone, you create presence,” explains Johnny Szumlanski.

On several occasions, Linea Pretzmann has experienced that young people, carrying very heavy issues, have addressed Cyberhus’ chat room, and in some situations it may be difficult, as a counsellor, not to be affected when a young person shares their story that they been sexually molested that same day. But Linea stresses that it is important not to get affected, and not be judgemental of what the youngster shares:

“You create presence by listening to the youngster’s problem and not assuming you know how they feel about the person who assaulted them, for instance a parent. It is of great importance for our young people that they know you understand that their parents are not unpleasant people in general. You try to create a balanced view by saying: ‘What your father is doing sounds really uncomfortable for you, and it is very wrong of him. But I recognise that he also has some good sides that you like.’ You have to respect the fact that they may have a fairly close relationship with their perpetrator – It is my experience that this indeed helps our dialogue with our youngsters,” says Linea Pretzmann.

You build trust and make young people feel safe

A typical feature about a group of young people who come to our chat counselling is often that they are in some kind of an emergency. So, as a chat counsellor you have to be aware that youngsters often address our chat when they are at their most low. Therefore, their emotions may be up in arms and they may find it difficult to reflect on and accommodate the counsellor’s questions. Usually, in those situations, our counsellors initiate the chat by talking about issues that are easier for our youngsters to talk about. For example, we may ask about how our young people have been doing today. Sometimes, it may in fact be something that’s happened during the day that has triggered a given conflict, explains Linea Pretzmann, and by talking generally about one’s day, you may be able to circle the issue at hand.

Other times, young people may address issues they have a hard time broaching. Many youngsters may chat for a long time before they get to the heart of their problem. Particularly when young people address heavy issues, does it take time and demands trust before they share their feelings, explains Linea Pretzmann:

“If our young people find it hard putting words to their problem, often you can help them by asking yes-/no-questions. ‘Does it have anything to do with your mother?’, ‘No’, ‘Is it something at school?’, ‘No’, Has it got something to do with your friend?’, ‘Yes’, ‘Okay.’ Using this approach you may slowly find out what someone really wants to talk about.”

A hug over the keyboard

Our young people cannot see the counsellors in our chat room. That is why our counsellors need to articulate empathy and comfort in ways that are otherwise possible in the physical world. For example, counsellors may give our young people a hug via the keyboard.

“If, for example, someone writes they are sad, a counsellor may give a verbal hug by responding: ‘I do understand it’s very difficult for you right now. It sounds like you are upset so here is a hug over the keyboard.’ Obviously, this never replaces a real hug but it is our way of showing our young people that there’s a real person on the other end who actually listens to them and who cares about them,” says Linea Pretzmann.

Often the verbal hug helps young people open up to us. Their messages typically become more elaborate and detailed when they feel safe and when they are confident the counsellors are listening to them and accommodating them when they are sad. However, sometimes we do not always succeed in creating a solid contact with our young people from the get-go. In those situations, it is important that you, as a counsellor, is analytical and compassionate about what the youngster is writing, and also that you are able to articulate the signals you receive from them:

“If someone provides very, very short replies, usually it is a sign that the contact is not effective. In order to establish presence and getting a bit closer to our youngsters in those situations, you may write: ‘I have a feeling that we’re not talking about the things you really would like to talk about. Is that correct?’ Other times, you may sense that you are asking questions which the youngster feels uncomfortable answering. In those situations, I usually write:

It sounds like it’s really difficult for you to talk about this. Is that true? Would you rather that we talk about something else first? In those situations, you as a counsellor, is responsible for finding other topics to chat about, and usually you find some. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a contact not being restored,” explains Linea Pretzmann.

The chat must help young people feel safe

Often it is easier for young people to get in touch with a chat counselling rather than reaching out to a physical counselling, partly because chat counselling allows them to remain anonymous. Therefore, a lot of young people share issues in our chat counselling they have not yet told others in their social circle. But the chat is not intended to be a substitute to seeking help elsewhere – on the contrary, it must be considered a first step toward supporting young people opening up and sharing problems they would otherwise carry by themselves.

So, chat counsellors focus on preparing young people to seek help, either within their immediate relationships or with an adult they trust. Johnny Szumlanski and Linea Pretzmann are always very aware of what resources their young people seem to hold – both within themselves as well as resources attained to their close relationships. And counsellors then try to make their youngsters confident in utilising those resources.

“Chat counselling is a very good option for young people who sit at home alone in their room with a problem they do not wish to say out loud. It provides new opportunities for them to talk to an adult. Then, of course, you may question whether it substitutes talking to others about their problem. However, I view chatting as an opportunity to make youngsters feel secure enough to share their problems with others,” concludes Linea Pretzmann. And Johnny Szumlanski agrees – he is certain that anonymous chat counselling creates new opportunities for a large group of children and young people who would otherwise not get help.

By Camilla Tang Jensen, communications consultant, CfDP.

This article is originally posted in Danish.

We meet loyal users in our chat rooms

April showers bring May flowers, or so they say. Not exactly validating the truth of such a statement, it was however just how we felt when CfDP’s online counselling for children and young people, Cyberhus, earlier this year, encountered a minor technical mishap.

In late December, an error occurred during the update of Cyberhus which meant that Google and other search engines displayed Cyberhus much less in their search results than previously. Since more than 80% of our approximately 35,000 monthly visitors come from google and other search engines, it was obviously a mistake of significance.

Throughout 2014, Cyberhus had more than 35,000 visitors on average each month, as mentioned earlier. A number that, by the way, has been steadily growing since the beginning of Cyberhus in 2004. However, during January this year ⅓ of our visitors suddenly disappeared so that “only” a little more than 10,000 users clicked their way to Cyberhus.

The error has been corrected, and we have made the necessary measures to prevent similar errors from happening in the future. I must admit, I lack the technical insight to be able to explain how the error occurred, however, I would like to say a couple of words about our pedagogical aha-moment that came in the wake of our technical incident.

Pedagogical aha-moment

In previous posts I have explained how many young people read “over people’s shoulder” every single time we provide replies on our problem pages, or every time a youngster asks for advice in our debate forums. Up to 20 users are looking at our posts every time we give a reply. So, fortunately the decrease in visitors in January did not mean that our consultative activity decreased by ⅓, since an essential parts of those who visit Cyberhus “merely” watch other’s activity without being active themselves.

But we also noticed there was less traffic in our consultative activities; in January we had a small decrease in the number of posts compared to what we usually see during the month of January, both on our problem pages, in our debate forums and on other features of cyberhus.

<pHowever, in our 1-1 chat, the activity did not decline. Actually, we saw a small increase in the number of active young people. It provides us with a clear picture that young people who use our chat are probably youngsters who already have a thorough knowledge of Cyberhus, and not young people who find us via google, and “suddenly” get the urge to chat.

The typical chatters

We always assumed that the majority of users in our 1-1 chat are young people who are so well acquainted with Cyberhus, and the way we advise, that they feel comfortable enough to engage in 1-1 chat conversations with an adult. We find it difficult to substantiate this assumption as our privacy policy means that we cannot recognize each youngster from each session. However, the incident in January has now confirmed this assumption of ours.

We continually work to improve coherence between our chat counsellings, where we believe we have a solid hold on vulnerable youngsters, and the public youth counsellings which are often the next step toward a better life for our young people. Conversations in chat rooms are in many ways the closest we come to having a physical conversation with our users, since the communications takes place here and now and are more dialogical than discussions in a debate or posts on our problem pages. Still, users experience the step from our anonymous digital counselling to municipal physical youth counsellings as insurmountable great.

Easier access to our municipalities

That is why we find it crucial that municipal counsellings, more so, embrace digital platforms and offer chat counselling to their young citizens seeking advice. We often chat with young people whom we very much would like to refer to a municipal unit that can provide the help that we are not able to offer. It is our municipalities that have the necessary resources which can help each youngster forward on their path.

But way too many young people reject such municipal contact because it often requires that they, as a minimum, must contact their municipal over the phone. A lot of the young people we meet are not ready for that at all… which is precisely why they have chosen digital counselling.

Provided that young people are able to chat with their local youth counsellor, they would definitely be more inclined to accept a referral to their municipality. And if they have met their local youth counsellor in a chat room, as a first step, maybe the gap to reaching the phone, or going to a physical meeting, is not that wide.

This article is originally posted in Danish.

Ask.fm – we are driven by the drama!

Currently, CfDP receives quite a few questions about Ask.fm. If you have been travelling space the past two months you might not have heard about the new craze and the many stories of bullying in the media. In this article, I will briefly attempt to clarify what fascinates people about Ask, and why it is a good idea to be on the sidelines as parents or professionals.

What is Ask.fm?

Ask.fm has been around about 5 years. Originally based in Lithuania, Ask.fm has recently been acquired and re-branded by an American company. So, Ask is not new at all; however, the Danish interest is. Two years ago we saw a lot of media coverage on a similar social medium, Formspring, much in the media of the exact same reasons Ask is in the media now: Cases of bullying occur because one has the opportunity to remain anonymous. Basically, Ask is built on the concept that people “ask each other questions.” You create a profile, connect it to other social media to find friends, and you are ready to go. All profiles are public, so you can ask questions to complete strangers, if you like. A principal function of Ask is that you can choose to ask question anonymously; a feature that most people choose when they ask questions.

A lot of the questions asked are completely ordinary: Do you like Coca cola or Pepsi? Or semi-ironic:

“Deer or Dolphin?”
“Dolphin!”

Other questions concern trivialities of everyday life and experiences of being young.

“Are you a virgin?”
“Um, hope I’ll be alright :))”

In other cases, some sort of border is crossed and questions can quickly turn confrontational. It becomes very easy to “cast bullets”:

“I really don’t care what you call me, I hope you know that Sigurd fingered her but that’s how it goes. Too bad you don’t believe me but that’s just how it is. just telling you to be nice”
“If you’re so sure it’s true, would it do any harm to message me privately?”

“I dare you to send a picture of you taking a dump?”
“Yes, post your snap and I’ll get you a shitty picture ;)”

“Isn’t Zandra just totally demanding of attention and annoying sometimes?”
“Why do you ask?”

“Why are you badmouthing Fie and her girlfriends?”
“When have I ever talked bad about Fie, she’s a lovely girl, have nothing bad to say about her??? And who are her girlfriends? Couldn’t have badmouthed anyone who I don’t know, this is just too dumb hahahah”

“How do you feel that Mendez is talking shit about you?”
“That’s kind of sad. She can say whatever she wants, don’t care too much but I didn’t really expect it from her”

“Are you only 170 cm tall!?”
“No I’m 173”

A modern version of Truth or Dare

To understand the fascination of Ask, as an adult, one has to remember their own teenage years. You may remember the game of Truth or dare where you can ask each other intimate and personal questions? Or the anonymous “you are cute” message from someone at school? Teenagers’ play with identity certainly also takes place on the web. It can quickly become very intriguing; and it can actually also be a solid tool to help understanding “the other sex” or like-minded people. The opportunity to ask things you would not ask face-to-face is extremely appealing. In that sense, it is a good idea to offer youngsters an outlet to ask questions about teenage life which could easily be somewhat embarrassing to ask in the physical world.

Cyberhus, for instance, has successfully been running a project where people are able to share body secrets with one another. In this case, it is only positive that one can step out of the spotlight for awhile. Only, the problem is that anonymity is often equated with people letting their inner beast out. A lot of youngsters unfortunately choose to abuse the functionality of anonymity, and they get nasty towards each other.

Normally, my position on social media is that mostly there is no such thing as wrong social media but rather wrong ways to use them. Ask.fm kind of challenges that thought because lots of profiles contain material that creates conflict. If a social medium deliberately creates that much conflict, in this context, it may also be appropriate to warn against the medium itself. However, I also believe there are many positive ways to use anonymity. So I would rather that we broadly teach young people about faceless communication and cyberethics. How does it affect the real human beings on the other side of the screen who are faced with very negative comments? How do we define sound and moral use of Ask.fm?

Over the years, speaking to youngsters at schools about the fascination of Formspring, and now Ask, a lot of students tell me that the driving force is THE DRAMA! The fact that Ask almost guarantees a reality-like atmosphere makes the platform exciting to visit and follow. Conflict is a difficult news criterion to compete with, but young people need to learn there are real people on the other side – and real consequences of one’s actions.

How can you advice on good use of Ask.fm?

First of all, you have to understand that EVERYTHING is public on Ask. When you create a profile on Ask.fm, nothing can be done to prevent others from seeing the questions you get asked. As parents or professionals, it provides excellent insight into young people’s lives of codes and identity. Go to Ask, search a name, and get a glimpse of young people’s online lives.

Spotting any abuse of the service, you should encourage people to block and report the abuse. By reporting abuse you help stop the teasing on their part but possibly also that of others. You can inform youngsters about the option of using Aks.fm’s built-in privacy settings.Using these settings, you can choose NOT to allow anonymous questions. This will most definitely eradicate the worst bullying. However, it will (probably) also remove 90% of the questions you would otherwise get asked, which in effect is often why people allow anonymous questions.

Age requirements on Ask.fm

You should also read and pass on Ask.fm’s abuse policy which provides clear insight into what Ask, themselves, view as wrong usage of their service. Comparable to most other social media, Ask has an age requirement of 13. As a parent, I very much believe you should consider enforcing that age limit on Ask; The amount of conflict is vast, and cases of misunderstandings and bullying are more likely to occur, the younger you are. Finally, it is a good idea to inform our young people that anonymity also has a limit. Crossing legal boundaries is reportable to the police, and Ask is then able to locate the owner of a given profile.

Although it may be difficult, it is important to make an effort to emphasize with people’s fascination of Ask, and not just focussing on the misuse. However hidden it may sometimes seem, Ask and other similar services also have some strong qualities that actually help young people during their teenage years.

This article is originally posted in Danish.

Boys need an assist!

In Denmark CfDP is developing a new counselling site targeting young boys. From january 2015 we have taken the first steps to identify young boys’ needs and today we have come up with various design solutions which we will gently unveil in this article. With this project we hope to present some valuable insight to our European collaborators.

The platform of the project will be a specifically designed variation of the online youth counselling tools that exist in Denmark today. We have chosen to maintain our focus on today’s internet communication technologies on which we have built some solid pedagogical practices. Using targeted variations based on ethnographic research, we are now in the process of making our applied ICT’s more relevant for boys to seek out.

Boys typically count for only about 20-30 percent of users of Danish online counsellings, and it is this unfavourable balance between the sexes which our new counselling will try to improve. Similar scenarios seem to exist in most of Europe, and successful experiences with boys counsellings are in demand. Nothing seems to suggest that boys have significantly fewer problems than girls, and at Cyberhus we oftentimes meet boys who are really frustrated with the way we run our counselling.

Read more about boys’ concern in this article introducing the concept of our counselling for boys.

What characterise the boys in our counselling?

Our interviews with young boys and counsellors identify a number of characteristics present in boys’ relationship to counselling, and those findings help us in our design process:

  • It takes longer for boys to open up for their emotions
  • Boys are more dependent on building trust to a counsellor before they share their emotions
  • Boys do not care to show signs of vulnerability or “weakness”
  • Boys do not care to “feel” and seek answers within themselves, but are more prone to experiment with tangible advice of action
  • Boys appreciate quantitative feedback
  • Boys appreciate functional aesthetics over visual aesthetics

 

Earlier in the process, we identified a very significant challenge that boys, more so than girls, find it difficult to show their vulnerability to others as well as themselves. In a counselling context, an awareness of one own’s vulnerability is a prerequisite to actually acknowledging a problem and then seeking help. We have tried to meet this challenge by looking for “acceptable needs of help” in other spheres of boys’ daily lives.

Cross-what?

When you cross-appropriate, you take a practice or a concept from one context and adopt it to another context. This way the world constantly evolves; for instance when partisan scarfs become fashion objects, or when potluck suppers become dating events. At CfDP we focus our work on cross-appropriation when developing new concepts, and in our boys project we have focused on identifying acceptable needs of help.

We have found such needs in the world of sports as well as in computer gaming. Through many years, there has been a particular awareness of the value of a partner’s help in the sports of ice hockey. The English term “assist” describes the final passing to a player before he scores a goal. The term has spread and is now used in particularly soccer, basketball and handball in which players are acknowledged when they give good assists. Over the last couple of years, the term has also spread to online gaming where players can ask other players for an assist if they have to conquer a specifically difficult enemy. In gaming, players receive points for their assists and it is this form of practice which we are now transferring to our new counselling.

You simply do not receive counselling, you get assists.

Gamification

Besides adopting the idea of an “assist,” we have also looked at some methods in the field of gaming and are incorporating gamification strategies into the counselling setting itself. Partly, we want to give boys a counselling-avatar and also, we want to experiment rewarding boys points and pay recognition for the good assists they give each other on the platform.

The core of the platform will be a debate forum inspired by the developers forum stackoverflow.com who have incorporated solid structures of motivation on their forum. Unlike Stackoverflow however, our new counselling will integrate special assists from adults as an optional part of the forum which users can choose to include as a supplement to the assists they receive from the site’s other young users.

We will update this blog with information on how we will integrate adults in our young-to-young forum as well as details on implementing the functionality of chat.

The project will run until 2017 in partnership with TUBA, and is sponsored by the Velux foundation. The platform is expected to go live during this summer’s school break.

Should you have any questions about this project, please contact concept developer Jonas Sindal.

This article is originally posted in Danish.

10 years on, and still young people’s preferred clubhouse

2014 marked the 10th year where children and young people could get a helping hand in Centre for Digital Youth Care’s online counselling, Cyberhus. In connection to this, I will look back on how we gradually grew from being a very small place for young people, offering one chat room, one single problem page, and only a small number of counsellors, to now offering a wide variety of activities and features, and involving more than 60 volunteers.

Directed more toward young people than adults

ChartGo (1)

As is clearly evident by the graph, showing the development of young people’s activity on Cyberhus during the last decade, there is a clear tendency that young people increasingly are using Cyberhus as a place where they can relate to others and seek advice among their peers.
The numbers match our pedagogical vision that Cyberhus is, and must continue to be, much more than “just” a counselling. Cyberhus must be the virtual counterpart to the physical clubhouse in which youth are able to share experiences, seek support, or just hang out with peers.

As the activity in our Youth-to-Youth section, which today accomodates our Debate forum, Life Stories, Group chat, Images, Secrets, and Blogs, continues to rise, the activity in our Youth-to-Adult section, which includes 1-1Chat and our Problem pages, has decreased.

Even though the decrease of close to 300 inquiries in our Youth-to-adult section may seem prominent, we do not interpret that to express that young people no longer wish to use Cyberhus as an offer for counselling when they need help from adults. In order to understand the decrease we have to take a closer look at the numbers.

A little perspective

First, we have to separate our 1-1Chat and our problem pages. The number of questions asked on our problem pages have actually increased from 1582 in 2013 to 1783 in 2014, so there is no doubt that our young people still very much want to turn to us for advice.

This of course means that the corresponding decrease in the number of requests in our 1-1Chat has been relatively significant; going from 2002 chat sessions in 2002 to 1503 sessions in 2013. Fortunately, the decrease cannot be explained by a lacking interest from our young people.

June of 2014, we sadly had to cut down the number of chat sessions due to lack of funding. Our 1-1Chat is always monitored by a paid coordinator whose tasks include supporting our volunteer counsellors and as such, securing the quality of our counselling work.

A significant part of the requests we receive in our 1-1Chat concern very difficult issues such as self-harm, abuse, and thoughts of suicide. Sometimes we chat with young people who are in need of urgent help. Therefore, we will not compromise the available support and sparring to our counsellors. When we no longer had the necessary payroll funds to sustain the same number of working hours as in 2013, it was clear that we had to reduce our opening hours.

Naturally we hope that in time we will have the opportunity to expand our opening hours again and provide more young people the option of reaching out to an adult and get help.

What are young people addressing?

Taking a closer look at the issues young people address, we can see a big difference whether they turn to an adult or other young people. Young people who seek help from adult counsellors in our 1-1Chat and problem pages, are continually mainly young people who have a really tough time. The distribution of issues in 2014 looks like this:

1. Self-harm, suicidal thoughts, sexual abuse, violence, eating disorders, and mental illnesses count for 40 percent of Cyberhus’ total number of requests.

2. Issues such as bullying, loneliness, grief, and lack of self-esteem count for 23 percent. But also young people who address more “common” youth issues find their way to adult counsellors.

3. This means that the remaining 37 percent of requests concern love, friendship, parents, sexuality, and development of the body.

The distribution looks a bit different if we take a closer look at the activity in our Youth-to-Youth section. Depending on looking at posts on our debate forum, chats in our group chat, or images being uploaded in the gallery, there is of course great variance. But all in all, it is evident that our Youth-to-Youth section holds a greater share of the more “common” issues such as sexuality, love, and friendship. Actually, the picture is turned upside down showing that about 60 percent of all activity in our Youth-to-Youth section concern “common” issues, and “only” about 40 percent of that activity relate to more heavy issues.

And it is exactly that distribution and difference which make Cyberhus unique. There is no question that our primary target group are vulnerable young people who do not thrive and who live a life of both inner and outer chaos. And it is evident that they also seek and support each other through the different features that Cyberhus offers.
But at the same time, we see an equal advantage in regards to our young people’s interaction:

1. meeting other young people who do not experience life the same way

2. options of presenting aspects of themselves that are different from what really hurts

So, sometimes we have some amazing conversations in our group chat when a youth who cuts, is asked, with no prejudice, by people who have never had thoughts of doing self-harm, why they cut. Or when someone, who normally uses our chatroom to address their anxiety, also seeks advice from other young people about the best pointers to hook up with the hot guy in their class.

2015…we can’t wait

2014 marked another exciting, hectic, and at times, magical year. 2014 was the year that Cyberhus’ Secrets section significantly made its entry, and it was also the year that the site of Cyberhus was fine-tuned and made more accessible for our young people. Furthermore, it was the year municipal efforts on the youth field moved into our digital clubhouse.

So, 2014 was the year that marked our first 10 years working within the field of digital pedagogy at Cyberhus.

Now, we are so ready for another year and a new decade! 🙂

This article is originally posted in Danish.

The directory of Viborg (Danish city), and guilty youth

Another media event. The Viborg directory. Naked pictures. Apparently, they are everywhere. Today’s youth share their intimate moments with anyone who takes an interest, peadophiles have easy access to profiles of very young people on Snapchat, and revenge-porn has become a mainstream concept in Danish media’s awareness. At Centre for Digital Youth Care we meet those frustrated young people, the social workers and pedagogical staff, the teachers, and parents. But what is what? Why does it happen, and who are the guilty one(s)?

Why does it happen?

The media development have over the last 3-4 years moved in the direction of a significant change in our communication. A few years ago, we paid 40 pence for sending an mms, and today we are surprised if school busses lack wifi. Kids and young people use “mobile packages” that include loads of gigabyte data, and “free” sms and mms texting. So why not communicate in pictures and video? So, we are not dealing with a new “rawness” in Danish youngsters; rather, we are equipped with possibilities which we would also have used, were they present 10 years ago.

Playing with sexual expressions during teen years is a strong driving force, which have even rational minded young people (and most definitely adults too) dropping major clangers. When I present this issue in the classroom on my school visits, most teenagers know that someone can take a screenshot of their pictures to be shared with whomever – also on Snapchat. However, what is disturbing is that you notice an underlying consensus among young people that it is normal to send and receive naked pictures. Because you can! It is very difficult to go against something that feels mainstream. Considering examples from the “Viborg directory” and other current cases, we must all inform about the completely devastating effects such occurrences have on young people who have been through such experiences.

Who is to blame?

Several Danish media debate who is to blame. The girl who shares her picture with her boyfriend, or the boyfriend who shares the picture with the rest of the world? First of all, it annoys me that all agree that it is always the girl who unconsciously and innocently shares her picture with the guy who then displays his trophy as part of a stone age conquest-ecstasy. More than once, I have visited schools where “weenie-pics” have proved to be the biggest problem – that is, scenarios where boys have sent girls pictures of their private parts, and those girls subsequently saving the pictures in Dropbox, and sharing them. We need to treat this as an issue applying to both sexes. Just to create a nuanced picture of that part of the debate…

Guilt is an utterly useless concept in this debate. Because what do we gain by placing the responsibility with one of two sexes? Nothing. Even though one can rightfully argue that it is a big-time moral deroute when a neglected x-boy/girlfriend tosses pictures up on a revenge-porn site, it is too easy to acquit all those people who initially share their pictures with someone. When posting intimate pictures on the internet one takes a risk that must always be considered by the individual. Fact is that one’s control of every single picture that is uploaded is lost. When you have pressed “send”, the picture cannot be regretted. Guilt is not much of an issue in this; however, it must necessarily entail an ethical co-responsibility. Talking about “victim blaming” when the police urge young girls to stop taking naked-selfies is extremely far-fetched, I believe. Preventive work always refers to risk-behaviour. Young people have to understand that sending naked pictures always connects to specific risks. It’s got nothing to do with blaming the victim, but rather providing young people with basic tools to evaluate risks and act accordingly.

Where are the parents?

This friday evening, Danish television is running a report on a despaired mother who shares her story that her 10-year-old daughter has agreed to send (almost) naked pictures on Snapchat to an extraneous adult man. The police say that there is nothing they can do about anonymous profiles and aliases. Even though I, in no way WHATSOEVER, want to imply that it is acceptable for an adult to communicate with 10-year-old children on Snapchat, we as parents have to stop being so naive. A 10-year-old is absolutely not ready to use Snapchat and Instagram without supervision.

The Danish television report does not at any time mention that Snapchat has an age limit of minimum 13 years of age (and in certain cases 18). We must find all possible means to fight against grooming and pedophillia in cooperation with child care centers, the police, and our domestic environments; however, a vital part of this work starts with the parents providing their child with knowledge and resilience. If you choose to let your child have access to Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram as 10-year-olds, it must as a minimum be accompanied by a course that teaches about usage, along with certain demands (for instance, that one’s Instagram profile is private, and that one only approve followers they know from the physical world).

The interest of parents is a crucial part of the solution. It is necessary to incorporate issues of ethics and risks concerning online behaviour in everyday conversations during child- and late- teen years. From research we know that way too many teenagers feel that their parents rarely or never take an interest in what their teens do online. I actually believe that stories such as the one from Viborg, and similar ones, are contributing to create a heightened awareness in young people if the stories are used constructively by teachers and parents. Let us stop looking for who is most to blame and instead strengthen the moral compass in our young people.

This article is originally posted in Danish.

Social media from a teenager’s point of view

Somewhere between substantial representative studies and qualitative assessments from target groups, you may find the truth about young people’s usage of social media. This January (2015), an American teenager’s view on social media has created a great deal of debate in the States. Danish television has just disclosed “Medieudviklingen 2014” (the development of media 2014). The personal story from the States as well as the analysis by DR (Danish television network) provide interesting results about young people’s fascination as well as annoyance with social media. In this article, I will take a quick look at where I spot similarities and differences compared to Centre for Digital Youth Care’s interaction with Danish young people.

Facebook – no.1, but…

 

It’s dead to us. Facebook is something we all got in middle school because it was cool but now is seen as an awkward family dinner party we can’t really leave.
This is how 19-year-old Andrew Watts describes Facebook in a post on the blog-publishing platform Medium in which he clearly wants to debate how adults present young people’s use of social media. Watts addresses some of the most used social networks, and he hits the nail on the head on several of them. Particularly, his analysis of Facebook matches the tendencies I see myself in teenage students at my presentations. Among others, he describes a duality surrounding Facebook; you do not necessarily want to be there but you have to because Facebook’s group functions and messenger services become an important tool in planning school, free-time, parties and so on.

In the recently launched Medieudviklingen 2014
it is pointed out that Facebook experiences a small setback with Danish people below 30 years of age. At the same time, it is by far the most used social media in Denmark. Also, they underline that 12-29 year olds are not leaving Facebook, but they access Facebook less frequently than they used to.
Recently I experienced (for the first time in 6-7 years) visiting a 7th grade in which four students did not have (and had never had) a Facebook profile. When I asked why they weren’t on Facebook I got two replies:

1) I haven’t discovered/felt the need for that yet.

2) Facebook is too public – I don’t like that everybody can see what I like and comment.

The last point is also one of Watts’ explanations why we see a backset with facebook and a rise with for instance Instagram: “I’m not terrified whenever I like something on Instagram that it will show up in someone’s Newsfeed and they’ll either screenshot that I liked it or reference it later. The same goes for commenting.“

Instagram og Snapchat

 

Watts highlights Instagram as the most used medium. A medium that is not yet overtaken by the older generation. A place where the difference between ‘follower’ and ‘following’ is ok – and a medium in which you are not constantly spammed with low-quality content in the form of links and commercial content. Even though the above mentioned reflection makes incredibly good sense in an evaluation of the difference between Facebook and Instagram, it is my experience that the popularity and the amount of time spent on the two platforms are also run by a given school class culture.

Often I see classrooms that surprise by the fact that only half of the students use Instagram. This is often explained by the scenario that the “socially strongest” student in the class do not use ie. Instagram, and so that particular platform does not widely grab a hold on that classroom. In those classrooms, Facebook is often by far the most used medium. So, a great number of factors are in play when analysing the individual classroom’s use of social media. It is not always sufficient to read summarised research such as for instance Medieudviklingen 2014 if you want to understand the individual child that you work with.

instagram-snapchat-apunta-que-instagram-anadi-L-YNaKki

Snapchat and Instagram have grown rapidly since 2014. Since 2013 they have grown respectively by 77 % and 55 % according to Medieudviklingen 2014.
“Snapchat basically only exists among Danish youth below 30 years of age, but within that group it is also big. Half of all 12-19-year-olds, and almost a quarter of 20-29-year-olds use Snapchat on a daily basis.”

Snapchat is what everybody talks about lately, and I can also reveal that Snapchat is what is most discussed when talking about media at my school visits. As the closed and transient medium Snapchat is, it is difficult to gather much knowledge about Snapchat unless you yourself ask young people what they think about that medium. I do not have the option to “pry” in the content that young people post (as is often probable with Instagram and Facebook), because all content is sent privately (and strongly time-limited) to a defined and specifically chosen group of people. This quality is also highlighted by Watts as the most prolific attribute in Snapchat:

“Snapchat is where we can really be ourselves while being attached to our social identity. Without the constant social pressure of a follower count or Facebook friends, I am not constantly having these random people shoved in front of me. Instead, Snapchat is a somewhat intimate network of friends who I don’t care if they see me at a party having fun.”

If you look away from this year’s many debates and media news about naked pictures, I see Snapchat as a positive medium in the sense that it supports young people to go in another direction from the very thought-out aesthetic images in which young people try to live up to an unrealistic picture-perfect image and/or body image. A lot of teenage girls often confirm my view that Snapchat creates a counterpart to Facebook and Instagram where pictures are constantly measured in likes and comments. Snapchat just IS… you do not have to be evaluated.

Both Watts’ presentation and DR’s representative analysis of young people make sense. The movement toward primarily image and video oriented media like Snapchat and Instagram gives evidence to the fact that we must continue discussing image-and video ethics in the classroom. We probably also have to realise that it becomes more and more difficult to trace the way young people get together online as Snapchat is more private than other social media. But we can nevertheless choose to see that as a positive evolvement.

A Teenager’s View on Social Media – Written by an actual teen” is very interesting reading if you are curious about an honest view from an American teeanger. He has got some incredibly valid points that every person who works with young people and social media should consider – however, without necessarily having to be be read as a prophecy about Danish young people.

This article is originally posted in Danish.

Social media teach young people to express their feelings in new ways
Eksempel på et billede fra billedværkstedet. "Ambivalens" lavet af Jannie på cyberhus.dk

An example from Cyberhus’ image workshop. “Ambivalens” by Jannie at cyberhus.dk

The hype surrounding facebook has calmed down. Instead, apps like Instagram and Snapchat have found their way to an ever increasing number of teenagers. Young people communicate to a larger extent through pictures – not just when it comes to partying, flirting, and sunny holidays. At Cyberhus we notice that the development of social media have had great influence on how young people express their feelings. Cyberhus’ image workshop provide opportunities for young people to produce and upload their own images, or comment on images that others have uploaded. This counts for more than 1500 images, and commentary threads are growing.

The increasing interest in our image workshop points to a growing tendency among young people on social media; they utilize images rather than words to share their thoughts on subjects which are difficult to talk about. To this end, social media have had a positive impact on particularly young people who find it difficult using words to articulate their emotions.

Using images as a pedagogical tool
Lise Koldsen-Zederkof, active in arts and counsellor with Cyberhus, says that the medium of images is an exceptional tool for engaging in dialogue with children and young people. She experiences that images provide completely new ways for young people to express themselves. A lot of young people find it difficult to put words to their feelings. However, a picture will encompass exactly a given emotion within a particular person. Images can hold nuances that are difficult to find and express with words. Using the medium of images open up for possibilities by which sentences are limited.

Eksempel på et billede fra billedværkstedet. Lavet af Jannie på cyberhus.dk

An example from Cyberhus’ image workshop. By Jannie at cyberhus.dk

In the beginning, the communication at Cyberhus’ image workshop primarily took place between the youngster who uploaded their picture, and Lise. However, lately an increasing number of people have started commenting on each other’s pictures, precisely as they do on social media. Young people recognise the moods that they experience in a given picture which prompts them to comment on each other’s pictures. The youngsters are very supportive and caring in their comments, and a given thread will develop into a longer dialogue in which they help and guide each other.

At Cyberhus we experience that images create a unique visual understanding of young people’s life and thoughts – both to the youngsters themselves but also to the adults who surround them. We clearly see how the conception of social media provide opportunities for young people to express themselves in their own unique way. So, it would be beneficial to consider how the medium of images can contribute to our digital pedagogical practice.

This post is originally written in Danish.

Skills Connect

Skills Connect is an EU ERASMUS project in which Centre for Digital Youth Care, alongside the English organisation The Mix (previously, YouthNet), are taking part. The key point of the project is supporting young people find their way into the labour market through their voluntary work on our online consultative platforms. The project will run from March 2015 – March 2017.

Young people develop work related skills through voluntary work

A lot of young people find it difficult to acquire and qualify their own capabilities, believing in themselves, and communicate their qualifications to employers – and thus, securing themselves a job. We know from experience that voluntary work amongst young people can help promote their self-confidence and open up opportunities for education and occupation. Each year, our online counselling Cyberhus.dk carries out more than 60,000 consultative interactions with young people. A part of those interactions are established between young people who counsel other young people.

Recognition as part of motivated learning

Skills acquired by young people from their consultative work on Cyberhus.dk can help increase their confidence in their own capabilities. Aside from specific skills, young people who are involved in voluntary work also acquire a greater sense of self-confidence and self-worth. Recognition is an important element in supporting young people’s learning and self-knowledge, and as a result helping them on their path to employment. That is the primary focus of this project.

Young people’s communication of their own capabilities

In cooperation with The Mix we will consider how we can support young people to effectively develop skills that directly may contribute to their opportunities of employment. Using so-called digital badges we can pay recognition to our young people’s progress and skills across the EU. Along with an accompanying learning programme we will support young people in developing an increased awareness of their own capabilities, which they then can present to potential employers.

E-courses on Cyberhus

Late last year (2015), representatives from the job market and a number of young people took part in a co-creational workshop which explored what skills are important for young people to acquire in order to increase their opportunities of employment. Following this workshop, it was decided to implement 2 E-courses on cyberhus.dk which are meant to help young people articulate and present their skills of 1) helping others and 2) solving problems. Read article Free E-courses for vulnerable young people for more information!

Cyberhus Courses:

Cyberhus Courses

Login page to Cyberhus Courses

The Mix and Centre for Digital Youth Care are going to qualify and badge 250 volunteers from our various online counselling platforms. At CfDP, this applies to our online counselling Cyberhus.dk.

Centre for Digital Youth Care has previously worked with The Mix, most recently on a Daphne project concerning self-harming behaviour among young people online.

This project is funded by the ERASMUS Programme
Screenagers

Three other partners who are part of the project include; Finish organisation Verke, Austrian organisation WienXtra and the Northern Irish organisation Youth Council of Northern Ireland. The project will be implemented during 2015/16.

Anni Marquard, Line Buur Skovgaard og Astrid Andreasen deltog i opstartsmødet i Belfast i marts, sammen med dygtige og dejlige kollegaer fra Østrig, Finland, Irland og Nordirland.

Anni Marquard, Line Buur Skovgaard and Astrid Andreasen participated in a startup meeting in Belfast, March, with skilled and lovely colleagues from Austria, Finland, Ireland, and Northern Ireland.

Information technology and pedagogical practices

Our application results from a major seminar hosted in Ireland during the spring of 2014 with specialists participating from Denmark, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Finland, and Austria. Experiences amongst participants were, on the one hand, that information technology is an innovative contributor to the education of young people; however, at the same time there is a reluctance to incorporating ICT’s in the field of pedagogy. This reluctance may stem from worrying about children and young people’s safety online, or the idea from pedagogical staff themselves that they are not equipped to use ICT’s in their pedagogical work. So, the project wishes to get an idea of how digital media is utilised in pedagogical practices, and results as well as challenges of this interaction will be examined.

Digital Well-being

It is important to acknowledge the potential of digital media in pedagogical practices, and in this regard there are subjects that this project wishes to further examine; Which measures can be initiated to promote young people’s digital skills, protect young people’s digital well-being, and how can we positively enforce pedagogical staff’s view on themselves in relation to incorporating ICT’s in their pedagogical work? How are we best able to take advantage of ICT’s potential in a pedagogical framework?

Is it possible to uncover useful policy guidelines around digital media and the education of young people, and what shortcomings do we detect? The project will examine such aspects and issues, gain more knowledge, and examine capacities to act on both a local, national, and an international level.

During 2015 we will collect data and facilitate workshops across all countries involved. Centre for Digital Youth Care will be responsible for conducting a national desk research and an online research survey, and also for facilitating workshops for specialists. Experiences from all countries involved will be collected and published at the beginning of 2016.

We would love to hear from you if you work with children, young people and digital media, so that your experiences can be added to our knowledge base, or you are welcome to participate in one of our workshops. Please feel free to contact Anni M. for more information.

Have a look at the report from the Screenagers seminar which took place during the spring of 2014. Centre for Digital Youth Care participated with a workshop about the inclusion of young people on Cyberhus.dk.

The Screenagers project is funded by EU’s Erasmus programme.

This article is originally posted in Danish.

ENABLE – European network against bullying

ENABLE (European Network Against Bullying in Learning and Leisure Environments) is a Daphne EU project whose purpose is to develop young people’s social and emotional skills so that they will better understand, and become more responsible in, their on- and offline social interactions. ENABLE will be implemented in half a dozen European countries, affecting 6,000 young people aged 11-14, 2,000 parents and at least 30 schools.

The project will run from october 2014 until september 2016. It is coordinated by European Schoolnet and is among others supported by Vodafone, Facebook, and Twitter.

ENABLE flyer

Centre for Digital Youth Care is responsible for the following specific tasks during the project:

  • Involvement in all the meetings of the consortium (face-to-face and online) and actively contributing to the implementation of the project
  • Contributing to the review that will be implemented on bullying and cyberbullying, and the evaluation of schools before and after
  • Help provide resources, teaching materials, and developing digital tools aimed at Danish reality and input. Also, seeking out and educating teachers and young people on a national level
  • Especially, CfDP will be a role model concerning training, particularly in regards to EU’s Help Lines (Safer Internet Centre), and will participate in rolling this out nationally and providing support to the rest of the partners of the consortium
  • Finally, Centre for Digital Youth Care is to be actively involved with the project’s communication throughout the entire project, participate in annual conferences, national workshops, the international media campaign, hackathon and other initiatives

 

If you would like to know more about the project, please contact Jonas Ravn.

Check out the presentation of the ENABLE resources and read more about the project on ENABLE’s website.

You are also welcome to take a look at our leaflet on our ENABLE project.

The ENABLE project was completed september 2016, read more.

ENABLE consortium partners

What we must learn from the Snapchat case

A couple of cases from the media covering young people’s use and abuse of naked pictures all point in the same direction: there is a need for better, and far more, training in digital education.

During the week, lots of media have reported that 200,000 pictures from Snapchat have leaked online. Snapchat is an extremely popular app which allows users to send each other pictures which then disappear after no more than 10 seconds. Common sense should however make obvious that pictures, that are sent digitally, are always subject to be copied and shared. Or does it? Young people do know that, right? Not always, unfortunately.

An app that lets young people send each other pictures that they believe disappear, combined with teenagers being the primary target group in which exploring sexuality is a major factor, is a risky combination. A study conducted by SSP Jammerbugt this summer, reports that one third of 8th graders have tried receiving a naked picture. This is a disturbingly high number as well as being far too early. When 13-year-olds share and copy naked pictures, it’s legally categorised as child pornography.

The Danish National Council for Children has recently conducted a larger study among 13-year-olds which shows that 76% of youngsters request more knowledge about legislation and privacy online. This clearly makes evident that there is a need for information among young people today. This need must then be accommodated by schools and parents. The National Council for Children has previously detected that 4 out of 10 youths do not believe their parents know enough about digital media in order to be able to help. My own experiences visiting schools confirm the tendency that a lot of parents “let go” of their children too soon. Children are not ready to be by themselves online just because they are old enough to use social media.

A positive effect from the Snapchat case would hopefully be that more people realise what pitfalls exist on their children’s favourable network. From our school visits we know that a lot of young people are already reasonable. But, we are also aware that articulating these matters in the classroom will be of great benefit because it creates consensus about what is right and wrong. It is, however, a complex issue to set up an ethical filter in the minds of young people; it can be extremely tempting to override ethics when it comes to play and sexual expressions. So we as parents, as well as teachers, have to repeat and unfold our dialogue concerning boundaries, privacy and sexuality when they take place digitally. Also when the Snapchat case has left the headlines.

This post is originally written in Danish.

Masculine youth counselling to be launched in 2015

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.

Free computer games? – Hardly.

The latest trend in gaming- and we are not talking pastels and bob hair cuts- has to be F2B – FreeToPlay. F2B are free games distributed free-of-charge via developer’s own platforms or websites; however, what is hidden behind the word “free-of-charge”?

League of Legends, Eve Online, Team Fortress 2, World of Tanks, Spelunky, Candy Crush Saga, Hay Day, Farmville, and lots of other games have made big hits during the past couple of years – AND helped developers scoop money despite the games being free to the public. Free games have become a billion dollar business. In this post we look into what you pay for when playing those ”free” games.

Free 2 Play

F2P encompasses games that provide immediate access to the entire game-play without having to pay out of your own pocket.

League of Legends
Abandon all faith ye who enters

League of Legends is one of the most popular games right now; 27 million unique individuals log in on a daily basis, and then they spend an hour or two (or 10 hours) in this gaming environment. However – and how I wish this wasn’t true – developers are not in the business in the act of pure unselfish deed. Money talks, and RIOT (the company behind League of Legends) talks in capital letters.

The game is free – completely free – you can download and play the game as quickly as your internet speed allows; and the entire game is available. No hidden fees, extension packages or other dodgy stuff. Unless one would want some bling-bling, or one is a tad impatient! Inside the game one can upgrade their characters using bonuses or looks via the game’s built-in shop.

League of Legends 3
In case you would want your dangerous man-eating crocodile look like a dangerous man-eating crocodile – with fire.

The currency of the game (influence points) is earned by doing battles – you earn a little extra if you win, else payments are pretty stable. However – and here RIOT have been quite clever – you can circumvent the slow pace in your battles for in-game “pay” by entering your credit card information and clicking “purchase”.

But hey – is it not then a paid game and no longer Free 2 Play?

Yes!! And No!!

You do not have to pay for anything in League of Legends; it just makes everything a bit more comfortable if you do. It it exactly from the little buy-ins and micro-transactions the secret lies behind the game’s financial basis – it is so easy to entice people to buy “just a little bit” since the rest of the game is free. All of the sudden, you may find that you have purchased “just a little bit” a fair number of times, and you end up paying almost full price for a free game.

 League of Legends 2

What is important to notice is the fact that a lot of the buy-in treats are purely cosmetic, and can be accessed with free (play-to-earn) currency rather quickly. The advantage of paying for content in League of Legends is by all means pretty small and mostly cosmetic. Thus, developers speculate in the fact that players possess an explosive cocktail of vanity and impatience.

Conversely, there are other games where developers do not concentrate on players’ goodwill or propensity to upgrades; other places you can pay with real money to become (significantly) better.

Pay to win

Imagine that you play lots of hours – hundreds of hours – in order to achieve the best piece of equipment in a given game – let us call the equipment the Judgement Day Hammer. You spring right into your adventure believing that right now you have reached the top of your digital world. – In a snap, a totally new player comes along and wins your mutual battle thanks to his Judgement Day Hammer-on-Steroids-and-Speed which he bluntly shows off. His steroid-version of the Hammer is bought by cold cash and so, gives the opponent an unreasonable great advantage; it is not fair nor fun – but it is effective.

By this business model – Pay to Win – gaming developers create sort of a distortion of the balance within the game in which everybody can pay their way to get better; or at least, better than the ones who do not pay. This creates an unspoken demand that although the game is free, if you want to keep it fun and you want a fair chance at winning, you need to make cold cash purchases.

When Battlefield 4 hit the market in 2013 players noticed that the game’s best weapon available-to-everyone to a large extent was inferior to the buy-for-money weapon. The weapon that cost real money could be acquired for only 10 DKK, so fans of the game bought the weapon without giving it too much thought. Shortly thereafter, small packages containing extra equipment were launched, and true enough; in most of the packages, there would be a piece of equipment – a helmet, a bullet proof vest, a gun – that was just a tad better than their free counterpart. A lot of players complained but bought the packages anyway since they had already invested in the game itself, and perhaps one or two packages of equipment. That investment would to some degree be lost if “everybody else” had better helmets, guns and so on.

 Battlefield 4 - 2
149 DKK for Battlefield 4? That’s not too bad. 199 DKK for the deluxe package with extra equipment? Well…

Battlefield 4 - 3
AND you just have to throw in another 319 DKK to get access to the ENTIRE content of the game. Total: 469 DKK (however, you’ll also get “Bonus Battlefield Battle Packs” containing new weapons…)

This way, EA – the company behind Battlefield 4 – very quickly had players pay for not only the game itself (up to 500 DKK) but also spending several hundreds extra; a razor sharp economic business model as long as people go along for the ride and do not complain too much. It is worth noticing by the way that basically all of EA’s releases (including FIFA and so on) provide opportunities for people to buy great advantages; often for a significant amount of money. Just sayin’…

The expression “Freemium” also applies to games in which you pay extra to have the entire game (premium) available.

Pay to play – NOW

The past couple of years have witnessed a new flourishing of crummy games; casual games. Farmville, Candy Crush Saga, Smurf Town and so on. Games that excel by not actually being fun, but still are better than doing nothing… What is problematic with free games is the fact that their platform (facebook or mobile interface) often already communicate with your credit card; either via Google Pay, the Google Play shop, App-store and the like; it becomes extremely easy to buy this and that – often just a few clicks away. Developers’ “trick” then consist of letting players receive lots of content and rewards early on in the game, and then later offering content, bonuses, and rewards only to the extent that you’re tempted to spend those couple of extra bucks.

  Farmville
You don’t want to wait on the next downpour? Pay your way out!

All the small amounts naturally add up – and the need to buy only increases as the game progresses.

In Candy Crush you start out with 5 lives – you lose a life every time you do not complete a given level. This is not a problem at the beginning of the game as people race through the first 30-40 levels. After that it gets tougher. If you lose your 5 lives you will have to wait 30 minutes to receive 5 new ones. Since the levels become more and more difficult as you progress in the game, and you also become more invested in the game the more you play, the easier it is to decide to pay your way out of waiting. Simultaneously, when difficult levels are deliberately inserted into the game along with information that you can buy “boosters” (that will help you with a level) after a few attempts for a small amount, it can be tempting to buy. Again, it is a razor sharp business model as long as people fall for it.

  Candy Crush Saga - 2
Make your game-play a little easier… for 13 DKK.

Candy Crush Saga - 3
Or receive 5 more lives for just 7 DKK.

Free at a great cost

Unfortunately, free games and digital products are rarely free. Sometimes you get a light-version, other times you get ¾ of the cake, else the product is just a loan. It is of course utopia to demand amazing gaming experiences for no money but especially regarding mobile phones and micro-transactions it may be a short route from a pop-up buy-now button to a reasonably sized bill. It is important to beware and know what you really pay for, and decide whether you are willing to do it again, and again, and again, and…

In some cases – League of Legends – you pay a one-time fee for some unique content (how the man-eating crocodile should look like). In the case of Candy Crush Saga you strictly pay for not having to wait for the next game. If you choose to pay for 5 lives in Candy Crush Saga one time, it is likely that you will do it again. As a starting point, I’m an opponent of Pay to play – including the win-models; however, how you spend your money as a buyer and consumer is of course for each person to decide. Still, I want to encourage that you reconsider if you want to engage with a game that is tailor made for speculating in basic human needs, and taking advantage of impatience, curiosity, and so on. The invisible and overlooked expenses in games such as Candy Crush Saga, Hay Day, Clash of Clans and so on have been made to drag the most possible amount of money from as many people as possible; consider one extra time if it really is worth your money to stack hay or play Four in a Row with yourself. In many cases you may end up paying full price for a free product.

(In a later post we will analyse and discuss which mechanisms are in play when you need just one more round in Candy Crush Saga. Stay tuned!)

By former employee Christian Mogensen

This article is originally posted in Danish.

Digital media in day care centres

Centre for Digital Youth Care is interested in how day care centres apply digital media in their everyday practice. This is a field that continues to grow, and which give rise to a lot of exciting initiatives and projects amongst our counties in Denmark.

We are concerned with two two issues; On the one hand, there is the child’s use of digital media which include play, relations and development, and this encompasses how youth care workers reflect on and think about the use and implementation of the media involved. On the other hand, we focus on how digital media is implemented in a way that is optimal for an already established pedagogical practice. In this regard, we are interested in how digital pedagogical strategies can support pedagogical practices best possible.

In June, we systematically took on the task to learn more about the digital pedagogical practices in Danish youth care centres. We conducted a smaller field study in which we observed and interviewed pedagogical staff about their experiences with local, digital initiatives. We also visited institutions in various counties including kindergartens and nursery centres. This blog entry gives the reader an idea of which areas we find particularly interesting right now.

Remote controlled learning

“Day care centres experience constant change, and in order to keep up with those changes, the day care centres have to rethink their concept of pedagogical practices,” says one of the staff members in a kindergarten in the city of Galten. At this day care centre, they highlight remote controlled learning as a tool for providing more time and opportunities to optimise resources and priorities in their work. The day care centre does not shy away from talking about efficiency improvement as they believe that digital media indeed has the possibility to replace practical and none-pedagogical tasks and will create more time for their main priority; the children.

Remote controlled learning enables children to learn even though pedagogical staff may not be consistently around to help them. Staff may initiate play time, for instance the game of “stop the music” type of dance at vidensbrønden (the well of wisdom) which acts as an interactive floor for play, learning, and movement. Here, the children can turn off/on music from other rooms through an app on their iPhone. As a result, the children’s play time is not interrupted when pedagogical staff takes on other duties. The desired effect of using digital media’s potential and opportunities the best way possible helps create more time for caregiving and actual pedagogical work.

Digital media mediates new relationships

Some day care centres prioritise that children teach each other about apps and communicate to each other how their apps work. We have observed how children can help each other initiate play but also how children may help pedagogical staff understanding play and games. This takes place within the day care centres as well as amongst relationships with other day care centres or the closest school. Within those relationships, children learn from each other how to use an app.

So, digital media can be used as a tool to close the gap between children varying in age, and also between children and adults. Some pedagogical staff have expressed to us that digital media helps develop children’s ability to cooperate, ie. sharing an iPad, and that it creates interrelated relationships. Others have told us that after introducing digital media in day care centres, children have started to increasingly play together across existing groups. Thus, new and different relationships were built, that may not have risen through other games. Here, digital media contribute to bridging the gap between children and adults and creating new relationships.

A changing pedagogical field

When talking about digital media in day care centres it is important to realize which changes digital media possibly entails along with what adjustments it requires from an already established pedagogical practice. Rooms for unfolding digital media need to be created, and it is important to keep an open mind in relation to which benefits and knowledge it entails for children as well as pedagogical staff.

At the same time it is important to clarify what you cannot achieve merely by implementing digital media, and when this implementation results in inadvertent consequences. It is important to think about pedagogical intentions and ideologies versus reality and circumstance. Digital media must be discussed, reflected upon and be subject to debate within each day care centre. This makes the difference when talking about well-implemented digital media.

By former employee Marianne Jessen

This post is originally written in Danish.

Project report 2012-2014

Young people’s media use must be supported by guidance. The Media Council for Children and Young people, Save the Children, and Centre for Digital Youth Care present a range of activities in their project report for 2012-2014 which center around children and young people’s digital culture and well-being.

safterinternetcenterMore than entertainment
Children and young people’s use of media is about more than entertainment. They partake in networks on digital platforms that have sprung up in our daily media. Here they play, chat, share experiences, and live through well-known themes of childhood and young adulthood such as identity, friendships, conflicts with friends, dreams for the future, and bullying. Today’s youth are participants in our media culture rather than observers, and they make their debut as early as three-year-olds. This creates new challenges for professionals, teachers, parents, and the children and young people themselves.

Guidance, counselling and information
The Media Council for Children and Young people, Save the Children, and Centre for Digital Youth Care, alongside Safer Internet Centre Denmark, aim to support children and young people’s digital skills and well-being. This is facilitated through guidance, counselling and information for children, young people, parents, teachers, and professionals in the form of online and printed material, campaigns, and events. Learn more about a number of CfDP’s activities for 2012-2014.

The report contains an English summary on page 22. Also, here is a direct link to the summary on a seperate page.

EU and Insafe Logo
Centre for Digital Youth Care’s digital counseling in Cyberhus deals with internet-related issues, as a part of the EU Insafe program, and has served as the Danish helpline in close collaboration with Save the Children, Denmark and the Council for Children and Young People since 2009.

Tools for a better Internet

Translated to English. The original post was written by Kristian Lund, Project developer at Center for Digital Youth Care: http://cfdp.dk/redskaber-til-at-skabe-et-bedre-internet/  

It’s Safer Internet Day, (February 11, 2014) and Center for Digital Youth Care would like to use this opportunity to tell you about some of the tools we have developed or contributed to develop. We have used teaching resources, videos, teacher’s guides and other pieces of inspiration to describe the safest and best use of Internet. The discussion with children and young people about their use of the web is what we see as the most important thing, and the tools we will go through are based on the idea that a better and safer Internet is not created by hardware and codes, but education among users.


The Digital Mirror

One of the things we contributed to develop is “The Digital Mirror” www.detdigitalespejl.dk a project for schools about social media. For example there are three scenarios on Internet ethics for middle school and up. There is a presentation and a teacher’s guide for discussing the following subjects in class:

  • The digital community: What it means to be social online?
  • The digital footprints: What does it mean when one leaves traces on the web?
  • The digital identity: You draw a picture of yourself when you type


Mobile phones against Bullying

The idea of this project is to give students responsibility for discussing the issue of digital bullying in class and at school. Students themselves develop, film and edit campaign films and share them at school. This way, they are involved as senders and bring awareness to a hard topic in an innovative manner, which is directly relevant for the issue. With “Lommefilm”, our partner in the project, there is still wide opportunity to upload the films on their website (www.lommefilm.dk ) and for the project we have written a teacher’s guide that goes through the process step by step.

 
Online4ever

Online4ever is the result of a forum theater project we ran with the children’s theater Filuren. The result is 9 short films showing a situation and a problem that can be used to initiate a discussion in class. You can watch the nine films here: (http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLD19B86A37FB98DEE ) and read the Danish teacher’s guide here. (http://cyberhus.dk/sites/default/files/Laerervejledning.pdf )


Digital Dialogue

The Digital Dialog booklet is the result of last year’s Safer Internet Day when we invited teachers from all over the country to contribute with the knowledge of digital dilemmas they faced in their line of work. It is based on these digital dilemmas that the Digital Dialogue booklet is put together in the shape of a roadmap that can guide schools to find their own answers and make their own rules and guidelines. Therefore, it includes inspiration for parent meetings, how to listen to students and staff and a lot of questions that schools need to consider.
Learn more and download the material here. (www.digitaldialog.dk )

Digital Well-being
Last but not least, we have published the book “Digital Trivsel” (Digital Well-Being) which is specifically addressed to those who work with vulnerable children and youth. The book deals with the pitfalls that the more vulnerable children and youth can easily fall into. At the same time, it gives a broad introduction to how the Internet can be used for better or worse by the young people who is facing hard times and who need help to draw the lines.

Download the first chapter for free right here (http://cfdp.dk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Digital-trivsel-Uddrag-kapitel-1.pdf ), and learn more or order the book on www.digitaltrivsel.dk

 

Delete Cyberbullying – Peer Mentors

The following blog post is written by our correspondent and intern, Helena Sofía í Byrgi as a short draft of what she observed while participating at the conference.

Madrid 3

DeleteCyberbullying is a EU project, working to get digital bullying acknowledged as a real threat, which does harm. The project focuses on school and family, and works to create a common ground for how to prevent digital bullying. The project works with participants from Spain, Britain, Bulgaria, Belgium and Greece.

Center for Digital Youth Care has been following the initiative, and attended the conference DeleteCyberbullying, held in Madrid in 2013. Unfortunately, as we’re experiencing at a number of international conferences, there was again too much focus on how to monitor children and young people, rather than how to talk ethics and morals with them. Though there was one presentation, which we would like to highlight: Beat Bullying, which is working inclusively with young people.

Beat Bullying

At the conference, Beat Bullying presented their ideas on how to work with digital bullying. Beat bullying is a project that trains young people aged 11-25 to be peer mentors for other young people. By taking the responsibility of being a peer mentor, the young people get training, guidance and support in terms of helping others of the same age. After training the young people operate as councilors for other children who have been or are at risk of being bullied, both on and offline. Beat bullying works directly at various schools in the UK.

Beat Bullying has successful experience in actively involving children and young people in the battle as peer mentors. We welcome this type of mindset in Center for Digital Youth Care, and it is similar to the projects, activities and attitudes that we work with. Our own practical experience shows that young people are increasingly seeking support and advice from each other.

Peer Mentors, the way to go

At the conference, there were four young people from peer mentoring program who presented the major problems they had experienced with online bullying. They felt that although the studies of youth counseling from the EU show that only every forth child reports that they are exposed to cyber bullying, the problem is much bigger. The young people also experienced that many are afraid of reporting it, or don’t know where to turn when having problems online. Further more they had also experienced that the “tag” function on Facebook makes it easier to bully with pictures online. It is the young people’s hope that each country will demand its government to be more active in the battle against bullying.

For more information and video of the entire conference, follow this link: deletecyberbullying.eu

 

 

Freedom with responsibility rather than censorship

Our junior reporter Michael Kaas Christensen has broadcasted videos and text from the public hearing on web censorship in Europahuset, Copenhagen, which took place on November 14. Politicians, stakeholders and press met up to join the debate along with Facebook and Google, while Apple didn’t attend.

As you can see in the broadcast there’s hardly any agreement on what constitutes censorship. Is censorship allowed only when it’s legislated by the state? Or is a social platform authorized to perform censorship when controlling its members’ behavior? What if users report each other? The concept of censorship hardly fits into a democratic principle, because certain people, opinions and genres are excluded in advance. It’s just like when Google decides which websites to show along with their place on the search list or Apple decides which programs you are allowed to install on your phone, or when Facebook removes pictures of skinny dippers after one single complain due to their policy, while the retouched pictures of bikini models stay online.
Lisbeth Knudsen, the chief editor of the Danish newspaper Berlingske has no doubt: “Facebook has the authority to withdraw people’s right to participate in a democratic debate. Our network service has to practice its own censorship! How does that sound to you?”

The debate in Denmark is no longer just a product of our laws, common norms and individual statements; it’s evenly generated by the interests of the international companies on a legal, promotional and economic level. Perhaps it’s easier to spot the problem when censorship is practiced by the state rather than by our social norms – such as when the government of Pakistan commands the telecommunication operators to delete text messages that contain dirty words. However in Denmark Peter Øvig Knudsen is restrained from demonstrating an alternative to the retouched model pictures just as efficiently as those who try to show female bodies in a regular way. The front page of the book about the free spirit of the Hippie era is banned on Facebook and Apple doesn’t want it in its e-book store either. On the other hand, isn’t it control or even censorship when the state makes the rules for private-owned platforms?

An old solution to a new problem?

Actually we’ve already found at least one possible solution to the problem in Denmark as well as abroad. When monopolies like our postal service and the first telecommunication operator just took off there was a common understanding of them not being responsible of what is sent through their channel and not censoring content, sender or receiver. Although these monopolies no longer exist, the rules still apply – in the US it’s called to have a ‘common carrier status’ and major parts of our society play by those rules: such as web providers, cargo and public transportation, postal service etc. Even though this solution is threatened each time we demand that communication providers deny access to certain websites, or when some countries allow the providers to turn down the connection speed whenever you use programs that compete with them, such as Skype.

However, Facebook, Apple, Google and many other platforms (such as Paypal) have reached another agreement from the beginning; they are not responsible for the content sent by their users (at least not if cooperating with the authorities after a report has been made), but at the same time they are allowed to censor content, to ban users from their platforms and generally to do what they please. They have a lot of freedom without any responsibility.

What can we do?

Perhaps the problem lies with politicians who believe they have no right to apply sanctions. Talking of applying censorship it would be even more legally complicated to prohibit Facebook if they broke our rules – not to mention how hard it would be to actually do it. Nevertheless the ones who are left behind are the professionals and the parents of the children and teenagers, who communicate to a greater extent on the web – and hence become more and more censored and controlled according to what they may write or watch (not to mention how monitored they are).

The Pakistani children and youth have been definitely robbed of the possibility to make certain mistakes in text messages, and thereby also a chance to learn something from those mistakes. At Center for Digital Youth Care we love the idea of children and youth starting using the web and mobile phones at an early age when the advice, corrections and support of parents and teachers still make a great impact. It’s not about preventing every mistake from happening, but about being ready to interfere when a child or a teenager has sent or received a questionable message, image or link. Unfortunately, censorship deprives children, youth and adults of the responsibility for their statements, by removing them before there is any consequence.

As we learn from Michael’s coverage young people want a place they can address personally whenever there is a problem – not just a ’report’ button. Just as Michael correctly states that we shall be nice to each other online – but that should be learned in freedom, not forced by a technical regulation. The lowest common denominator shouldn’t determine what’s a mistake at all; condom is a prohibited word in Pakistan, a picture of skinny dippers is banned from Apple and Facebook’s platforms. What shall the Danish children and young people be allowed to say to each other?
It doesn’t have to be this way; there is no reason for the others to decide what you shall share on the web or which programs you are allowed to use. But as long as we are using the solutions provided by the software giants we have to teach ourselves and especially children and youth to understand the censorship being applied. Who decides what you see on Google? Which of your friends show up in your news feed on Facebook? What can you do with your smartphone via Apple and Google App stores?

Who gave you the right to read this article?

 

Watching your language – online

The increasing amount of online traffic forces the platforms to apply censorship. It’s a complicated matter, which ignites a debate in the society.

By Michael Kaas Christensen, Junior Reporter at Center of Digital Youth Care
Kristian Lund from Center of Digital Youth Care has also commented on the censorship debate.

Alongside with the development of the Internet, both possibilities and problems have emerged. As Web 2.0 and the social media came to this world, the use of the Internet has grown further. Many social platforms, such as Facebook and Google provide the unseen possibilities to communicate with the rest of the world and that is something the users “like”. The social media has become an efficient communication tool and everything from election campaigns to personal projects is advertised there. In addition, the question is what is actually allowed to show at these platforms and that’s where the users and the platforms don’t always completely agree. On November 14 Facebook and Google met at Europahuset, the hotel and conference center in the heart of Copenhagen, to debate the subject of the Internet censorship. They were accompanied by plenty of politicians, media professionals and subject experts and that turned out to be truly interesting.

It’s hard to legislate on what can be set online. The platforms have built their own empires and therefore some believe they have the right to determine the guidelines. The Danish newspaper Berlingske and the writer Peter Oevig are among those, who have been banned from Facebook. “They’ve got monopoly on communication and can control what’s allowed to be said– says Lisbeth Knudsen, the chief editor at Berlingske.  
She made an important point. There is freedom of speech in Denmark, but that very freedom ends all of a sudden if one gets banned from platforms like Facebook. Facebook has the power, which is hard to defy when you’re a user. “It’s truly hard to make the rules of communication for people across cultures.” – says Thomas Myrup, Facebook’s Nordic policy manager. He does not find their present practice of censorship wrong, but he emphasizes that it could certainly get better. As this statement was announced, people across the hall were nodding their heads, because indeed it can get much better.

Huge amount of data is hard to control

An enormous amount of videos is being uploaded on YouTube around the clock from all over the world, and on Facebook there are made at least just as many status updates each minute.
They are victims of their own success. It’s hard to check everything with such a huge amount of data and mistakes can happen. I don’t think the problem is the result of the wrong rules, but rather the wrong interpretation. Things that are normal in one country can be a disgrace in another and that’s something that also was discussed on November 14. As a user, it’s hard to reach the implementing platform if one has already been banned from it. It makes it hard to express opinion on the web. Who knows where to draw the line and how do I find out? That question will remain for most users, because nobody wishes to be banned from the Internet. I don’t know the answer to that question yet, but I guess I will one day. It is hard to figure out where they draw the line, and what makes it even more confusing is that different social platforms have different thresholds.

According to Christel Sandemose, a member of the European Parliament, it will be hard to control the giants of the web. “We can’t control them, but we can control the way we use it.” Morten Loekkegaard (MEP) agrees with her, he also thinks we should look over Google’s and Facebook’s shoulder. He personally suggested appointing a jury or an ombudsman, who can inspect the cases of the unhappy web users. It’s a fantastic idea, but they risk getting too many requests. Instead of, for example using Facebook’s ‘Report’ button, it will be more straightforward to contact an ombudsman or similar. The human aspect of being able to see a face will encourage many users to choose the direct contact.

Things can get much better

According to Google and Facebook there’s enough going on to keep the two companies busy, perhaps even more than enough. They’ve gained monopoly on the modern online communication, perhaps without even knowing it and that comes with obligations. The tools they generate are developed just as much by the users as by the companies themselves. Wherever they see possibilities, so do the users and unless you know the users really well, it’s hard to predict what they will say or do. I don’t have a solution to that, but listening closely to the users is a good place to start. Even though it requires resources, they should analyze particular cases, along with showing that they do pay attention whenever a user is criticizing content. The ‘Report’ button, which is available on Facebook and some other platforms, is not considered as an actual way of communication by the users. The more cases Facebook analyze, the smarter they become and that should gradually lead to better censorship. The ‘Report’ button itself is not censorship, but the cases that get flagged should serve as an inspiration to it.

However, that requires us to report more. After all, Facebook and Google have made the button available and if we experience something offensive, we should definitely report it. ‘Great power comes with great responsibility’ and I believe the big web companies are about to realize that. Let’s hope they won’t remove my article because frankly speaking that would be a bit of a drag.


I hate when there are only 10 likes beneath the photo

A year ago Queen Margaret surprised us all by talking about young people and Facebook in her New Year’s speech. One should have bet on that subject. It would probably have given serious money, said commentators. The queen was worried. Especially about the young people’s group dynamics and their identity work on the social networks:
“I think the young people are especially vulnerable. The modern ways of communication with Internet and Facebook have tremendous potential, but there are also dangers associated with it. The very young ones can be so occupied with it that they, so to say, live in cyberspace, that reality, on the other hand, is lived in a kind of showcase, where it’s more about to keep up an appearance than to be yourself. But young people have to be themselves, not only as a group but as the individuals, they are.”

I look back at a year with a whole lot of presentations for kids, young people and professionals of different kinds and I think: What has characterized the year of 2013? And do the young people think Queen Margaret is right, when she thinks they are living in a showcase? Should she express same concern this year?

The visual youth

I have just finished a minor presentation tour for 5-600 students from Hornslet, Tilst, Malling, Knebel and Nykøbing Sj. What’s most obvious is that today’s youth is more visual than ever before. With the combination of SnapChat and Instagram it is easier to define yourself and others through images and the comments and likes, you get on them.

In a thought-provoking story from an 8th grade, a girl tells me that her friend has several times offered prizes (lipstick, tanktop etc.) on Instagram to those who likes and comments on her photos. A private person without any commercial interest offering gifts for likes.
When I openly problematize this and ask what value does a like have, if it’s only given to receive a gift, another girl says, “well, that were only things she no longer needed”.

It is useless that I as a moral-guarding adult apply words like prostitution here, when young people see it as a sweet and harmless way to get rid of things they don’t need anymore. However, I think you can speak of a further shift in this direction this year. The approving likes have become a very important part of especially being on Instagram. As a girl from 9th grade said to me: “I hate when there are only 10 likes beneath the picture ‘cause then all the names are visible beneath it. It’s best when there are so many, that Instagram won’t show all the names.” I do not recall quite same honesty about this last year.

Privacy and reciprocity

In my experience, the core group of youth has improved at changing their privacy settings – but perhaps not enough. Even though many young people according to new studies have experience with making lists and blocking people on Facebook, there are negligibly few who practice changing and reviewing settings.

A general view seems to be that there is reciprocity in sharing of material. It is almost considered dishonest to limit information because one also receives trivial (and inappropriately much) information about others.

It is probably disingenuous when the Queen called youth “particularly vulnerable”. The vast majority of young people navigate well on social platforms. But for the young people who really ARE vulnerable and lonely, it may be difficult to participate in the modern “like”-economy that requires willingness to put oneself on display. As a teacher, I have the enormous challenge of communicating to the vulnerable ones, that you do not necessarily have to participate in this process. But of course nobody wants to be an outsider, right?

And to the question whether the young people get provoked by the Queen stating they live in a showcase, the answer is usually: No! Still they are willing to agree with her. That’s how it is, they say. Why would one be provoked by that?

 

 

 

 

Centre for Digital Youth Care launches a new international network

Centre for Digital Youth Care launched a new digital network at a conference in Brussels the 26th of February this year in collaboration with the European project Ch@dvice, which is an offspring of the Belgian organisation Child Focus. The network is called Digital Youth Care. Our primary responsibility was to establish the digital platform digitalyouthcare.eu and be a part of the advisory board that has dealt with guidelines, target group and values concerning the network.

The network applies to counselors, professionals and organisations working with digital counseling. On the website digitalyouthcare.eu -members are able to share knowledge and software, engage in dialogue with professionals of relevance and find inspiration which can be used in their own practices.

The network also addresses organisations that contemplate establishing a counseling practise.

 

digitalyouthcare.eu

I was commissioned to present the motives for establishing such a network and it was a pleasure for me to communicate CfDP’s values and attitude towards digital counseling, Open Source and knowledge sharing on a European level. In the following I have selected some of the key elements of my presentation:

– Digital Youth Care is independent of political and economic affairs.

And this is one of the strong points of the network, as it ensures the possibility to keep focusing on the daily practise and make sure that it will be relevant and advantageous for each individual counselor to be a member of the network. The network should be run primarily by the members and a moderator will be connected to the project.

By now I have visited quite a few European networks and my experience is that political and economic affairs – personal and/or organisational – might block the way for the constructive and relevant agenda. That meetings and conferences aim to please other interested parties than the professionals who participate.

– Digital Youth Care is driven by curiosity

Most networks are among other things connected with reports from the members and participation at conferences and meetings. But due to our dependency, it is the curiosity for our own practises and professionalism, and the need to learn from each other and gain new knowledge which drive the activities at digitalyouthcare.eu

– Open source

This concept means a lot to us and mirrors how we think about development and knowledge at CfDP. Open source can be described as the process when a source code connected to developed software is released so that everyone is able to implement, improve or adjust the software in question for free. In general we believe that we shall use each other’s knowledge and software and develop it further with one common goal – to ensure the best possible surroundings for the youth who visit our counseling offers.

CfDP has developed software for chat, mail counseling, debate forums and composed handbooks and methods in connection with digital counseling, which can be downloaded on digitalyouthcare.eu for free. And we are actually quite proud of it.

We are well on our way… Do you want to join us?

 

Written by Erroll Marshall

New European Digital Youth Care Network

One of the projects in which we put a lot of our energy, at present, is the developing of the website and online network: European Digital Youth Care Network. This is something that we do for and in collaboration with the Belgian helpline, Childfocus. The site works as a network for social organisations that are occupied with counselling young people on important issues of their lives.

Until now a couple of forums have been created where the members are able to discuss, share and learn from information, experiences and issues. Apart from Centre for Digital Youth Care the network also counts members from seven other European countries, and other interested organisations are welcome to join and start sharing experiences to make the counselling at all the practising organisations as advantageous as possible for the children and youth.

A conference is to be held on the 26th of February this year in Brussels and it will function as the official starting signal of this new collaboration. The subject is “Online help for young people” and Erroll Marshall from Centre for Digital Youth Care will participate in the event, where he is going to talk about the European Digital Youth Care Network.

The network and website is meant to be an informal place where practitioners can gain from sharing knowledge and experience on youth counselling with each other, and we are proud to play a central role in the developing of the project. We look very much forward to attending the conference in Brussels and in the future being able to help fellow organisations improve their counselling and inspire new social organisations to step into the world of online youth counselling.

 

Written by Merete Pilegaard Rasmussen, voluntary communication employee.

A ground-breaking framework for good online counselling practice

It is finally here. Two years of project work in collaboration with five other organisations (YouthNetDepaul UK and 42nd Street from United Kingdom, Associazione Photofficine Onlus from Italy and The Institute for Research and Development “Utrip” from Slovenia) has led to the composition of a Best Practice Guide, supported by Daphne, which contains a number of recommendations for successfully implying online counselling in the work with supporting youth who self-harm.

Centre for Digital Youth Care’s online counselling offer for children and young people, Cyberhus, has been the Danish ambassador of the project. Read more about some of the elements that we have worked with through the project here and here (please note that the posts are in Danish).

 In connection with the conference held in London in December, where the guide was presented, Youthnet wrote in a press release: The link between the internet and self-harming among young people has long been a controversial subject with much debate over whether the internet is to blame for the rise in self-harming among young people. However, the research found that the internet is profoundly influencing young people’s help-seeking behaviour and the majority of young people who self-harm go online for information, advice or emotional support. By using the results the six organisations have reached, the consortium has compiled a ground-breaking framework for good practice by practitioners for practitioners”.

… And I agree with that. I think that we have succeeded in converting experience gained from online chat sessions, mail counselling, debates, user surveys and interviews with the youth during the last two years, into a handful of thorough, exact and easily accessible recommendations, which can be helpful for any organisation that wishes to offer online counselling.
Read the guide and judge yourself. The guide contains 87 pages – get directly to the recommendations by turning to page 68.

The composition of the recommendations is based on more than 50,000 counselling sessions and 1,000 interviews with young people spread out between the six participating organisations during the last two years. And this is what makes the difference – the fact that the youth have been heard throughout the project and their opinions and feedback have influenced the final recommendations.

And the voices of the youth also made up the best experience when the Best Practice Guide was presented in London back in December. Here Frankie and Steph told how important meetings with professional adults and other peers who self-harm have been for them and how it enabled them to fight and get out of the isolation and shame, which all the young people that we have been in contact with, during the project, say is the primary reason for not seeking help.

 

The actual presentation of the guide was an exciting experience and the English doctor Ranj Singh facilitated a panel discussion between representatives from the participating organisations and invited guests from the press. 
It led to advantageous discussions and enabled us, as a participating organization, to elaborate on and go into further detail with our experiences from the project together with the guests.

All in all, the project has been a positive experience and I hope that the Guide and the recommendations in it will be a stepping stone towards a continuously collaboration to disseminate and implement online counselling at other organisations. First of all, at organisations working with young people who self-harm, but I believe that other organisations who work with other issues as for example; eating disorders, sexual abuse, suicide thoughts and mental sufferings, can gain from using the recommendations. That is simply because, according to my experience as a pedagogical coordinator at Cyberhus, youth who deal with these issues face the same barriers such as isolation, shame and the fear of not being understood and taken serious. These are all barriers that can be overcome by the aid of online counselling – that is what our project has shown.

 

Written by Niels-Christian

Are we experts or reflective adults in our counselling?

This question has made up one of the main subjects of the 2-days workshop which I held recently here at the office in Aarhus for the Bulgarian Helpline. Helpline.bg offers information and counselling opportunities, for youth and adults, concerning online related issues. The helpline has existed for a year and they have already gained experience in online chat counselling, mail counselling and in offering telephone advice. However, they wished to find new inspiration in our knowledge, primarily on our chat and mail counselling but also on our way of organising and working with our voluntary counsellors, among other things because they consider expanding their counselling establishment to become a more general helpline as for example our digital counselling platform Cyberhus.

The Bulgarian Helpline focuses on quality, is reflective in their professional standards and in the year that they have existed they have come far. But as most newly established helplines, within the field of digital counselling, experience there are many professional nuances and elements which are unique when working digitally – more than what is first expected.

Expert or reflective adult?

One of the aspects which is not considered thoroughly in newly established helplines is what role we occupy as adults in for example a one-to-one chat with a young person. Are we experts or reflective adults in relation to the youth’s situation? And when is it constructive to be the one or the other? Among other things it depends on what kind of helpline we are dealing with – whether it is a general helpline, as Cyberhus, where we can chat about everything or whether it is a more specific helpline, like Albahus, which offers counselling in connection with sexual abuse.

The role as a reflective adult

At Cyberhus we work hard to create a place, both when talking about online chat counselling and mail counselling, where we enable the youth to reflect on their own situations by being curious and by listening. We acknowledge the youth as an expert in its own life and instead of focusing on one solution we try to shade and broaden the problem so that the young person in question can find constructive action possibilities on its own. You can read more about how we aim to build up our answers in our mail counselling here.

The role as a counsellor is in particular important when talking about general helplines like Cyberhus, as we experience many children and teens trying to express in words for the first time how they feel and what they find difficult in life. It is extremely important that we follow the child’s pace and make sure that the youth feels safe and knows that it can develop at a slow pace. This is supposed to ensure the motivation and faith in the usefulness of talking about what is difficult and in the fact that there are adults out there who are willing to listen and respect them.

The role as an expert

The role as an expert can be both constructive and necessary to occupy as a counsellor but it is important to be conscious about how and when to do it – as a counsellor in a topic specific counselling establishment it can make the youth feel safe. It gives the impression that here is an adult who really knows what this is all about, who has a lot of experience on the field and has some evident tools that the youth can work with. As an expert you can be very clear and straightforward in your wording in a way that creates credibility and trustworthiness.

When a young person visits Albahus’ website or any other topic specific counselling platform he or she is well on the way in the process towards a better life and the child expects to meet a counsellor who has a specific knowledge of the field in question. It is often written on the website what kind of qualified professionals the youth can expect to meet and where they have their expertise. The settings are then quite different from for example the ones at Cyberhus.

Likewise, the youth has often already been through a process of recognition before logging on to e.g. Albahus’ website. The child might have accepted the extent of the issue or is more motivated to act because it is able to get specific and professional help. That is the reason why the counsellor to some extend must occupy the role as an expert.

The role as the expert can easily be combined with the role as a reflective adult and even with great advantage (Which Albahus is a shining example of). Here at Cyberhus we are not so fond of the word expert, as we to a higher degree consider ourselves as being normal adults who wants to listen and try to help. Instead we use the word distinct adult. Basically, it is all about daring to share our experience, attitudes and knowledge when the youth can derive profit from it. It could be needed when the child seeks a response from a grown-up and wants to know the adult’s attitude towards a certain situation. Questions such as “what do you think?” and “I need to hear an adult’s attitude towards something” invite us to be clear and grown-up when facing the youth. This does also apply to situations concerning abuse, a subject where much clarity is needed both ethically and legally.

If the role as an expert/ distinct adult is used too often and at the wrong moments it might have negative consequences for the youth. This could mean that the child might not feel heard or respected, that the advice is not based on the child’s own reality, that our language is not at eye level and that we present some possible actions which are not useful for the youth. All this may lead to the fact that the young person in question experiences that asking an adult for help is not profitable – and the child stops trying.

In working with our role as a counsellor it is important to be aware of what I have written above but also how we act in writing in relation to that role. What kind of words we use, how we structure our sentences, use of breaks, number of questions, use of names, use of smileys, how we think the conversation/the answer is build up etc., is essential for our role and if it stands out as being clear and constructive for the youth. And this could also result in another blog post later on…

 

Written by Erroll Marshall

 

5-stage model is the backbone of mail counselling

The mail counselling at our digital counselling platform Cyberhus is constantly developing. Primarily as a constructive and useful tool for young people who do not feel ready or confident about using our online chat counselling, or need the peace and quiet back home to express a question or describe personal experiences. Also this year we anticipate the number of questions to increase with approximately 20%, which means that by the end of year 2012 we will reach almost 2500 questions.

Our mail counselling has evolved as a method and professionalism among our pedagogical coordinators at Cyberhus. Our handbook, which is the backbone of the training of new counsellors at our mail counselling team, is being fine-tuned and in the new version you will among other things find a new visualisation of how we build up our answers in general – and I would like to focus on that in this blog post.

The structure is the backbone of a good answer

Our 5-stage model is a dynamic model in which every part can be prioritised and be given different importance according to the child’s needs. However, a clear and distinct structure in the counsellor’s answer has two very important functions. First of all, it gives the youth the impression that the person answering is a distinct adult, who knows how to handle the situation. This is something the young person can relate to and might also need. Second of all, it makes sure that you as a counsellor do not repeat yourself, ramble on or become unclear by not following a specific order. The development of the 5 stages means that we now have a good tool to ensure a constructive encounter with the youth.

This has also given us; a framework for training/mentoring the counsellors, a common starting point and a common understanding.

The 5 stages are:

1. Introduction
As with every other encounter between two people it is important to welcome each other and make the other person feel wanted. In our introduction the idea is to create safe surroundings. The surroundings are meant to motivate the youth and make them open to reflections, replies and possible actions that will be presented to them later on in the answer. This is among other things done by:

 – welcoming the youth/ asking them to come in/ shaking hands with them – by using written language.
– acknowledging the child’s feelings and thoughts: “I understand why it must be very hard for you to handle all these thoughts by yourself”. 
– focusing on the youth’s resources: “It was so strong of you that you tried to talk to your teacher about it yesterday…”
– creating a personal relation: “I think that you describe your thoughts and wishes very well and I want to help you as much as I can”. 
– focusing on the reply and how to handle it: “At first, I would like to answer your question in the best way that I can and then I have some ideas that you might find useful…”

2. Answer main questions

A question asked by a child might be wrapped up in a long story which often contains extremely worrying details. Especially, among new counsellors we experience that they focus on these worrying details early in the answer and give well-meaning advice and guidance. The adult wants to tell so many things that feelings might shade the constructive answer. What happens is that the youth’s main questions are downgraded, whereas the aspects, that we as adults believe are important, come first. That does not turn out well.

Instead, it is important that we answer the child’s main questions right after the introduction, unless it is judged that something else is more constructive. This is respectful and contributes to the creation of motivated settings for possible reflections later on.

3. Personal reflections and perspectives

Here the intention is that the adult is very clear and encourages the child to reflect on what he/she has written. At this stage the counsellor might also want to write down matters that are not directly linked to the question asked. When using online chat counselling we use an inquiring and curious conversational form in order to invite the youth to reflect on the matter, whereas when dealing with mail counselling we use a different form. With a starting point in what is written by the child our job is to differentiate and illustrate. As counsellors we often have to express our own words and experiences clearer than when using online chat counselling, to ensure these nuances.

In this part of the answer we are walking a tightrope and it is important to be at the child’s eye level and meet the child when it is in the realisation phase. Simultaneously, it is necessary to stand out as being a distinct adult who wants to help and make changes.

4. Action proposals

The closing of our answer gets nearer. Often it is necessary to present further action proposals than those we might have touch upon when answering the child’s main questions. It is important to acknowledge that the child is the expert in its own life and therefore we might suggest different action alternatives that the youth can choose from.

The action proposals must conform to the child’s level of realisation and it should often be described why the different proposals could be used. For example that it would be a good idea if the child practised putting the difficult things into words. This could happen if the child uses online chat counselling when contacting us again and then one day it might feel safe enough to talk to an adult offline.

Another aspect which is very important is that we complement our action proposals with a “how”. “I think you should tell your mother about it”… but how? It might be an idea to write it down at first, talk about it when the child is alone with its mother or perhaps the big sister should mention a couple of words at dinner about it. It all depends on the child’s resources.

5. Closing

The primary task of the closing is to end the answer in a motivating way and to make sure that the youth had a good experience, gets the last pat on the back and believes in the possibility of change.

 

It is both exciting and challenging to work with the structure and the building of an answer. In my work with the individual counsellor this 5-stage model has proved to be invaluable and it is an interesting exchange of opinions which is sent back and forth before an answer is complete and gets published. But it is all worth it.

 

Written by Erroll Marshall

CfDP contributes to Insafe’s Joint Annual Report 2012

CfDP/Cyberhus represents the Danish helpline in the European cooperation network Insafe. We are very pleased to play a part in this international project, where we are able to share and gain experience, on children and young people, from Insafe and other national helplines in the community. As the Danish representative in the Insafe network we were asked to share some of our experiences and key successes as a helpline in year 2012. It is with pleasure that we earlier this week sent in Cyberhus’ contribution to Insafe’s Joint Annual Report 2012, in which we touch upon which projects have occupied the helpline and our main achievements of the year. In the document we among other things wrote:

“During the year, we have taken part in several projects and network groups. We have become a member of the Belgian helpline Ch@advice’s advisory board, we have held our own workshop in Beirut for newly established helplines, we have put together an online chat and correspondence network in Denmark, and we have translated and distributed our manuals on counselling to all helplines in EU.”

Being a part of Insafe and offering information and advice to youth, teachers and parents is important to us. Cyberhus has become one of the youth’s favourite digital counselling platforms in Denmark and all figures from year 2012 indicates that our counselling offers are made use of more often than the year before, and in our contribution we touched upon this development:

“Our statistics show that the number of children and teens contacting us is increasing. This day, we have reached 273,419 unique visitors – nearly 40,000 more than in the entire year 2011. Our online chat and correspondence counsellors received a total of 3,880 counselling sessions last year and we envisage that the number increases with approximately 1,000 by the end of the year.”

We are glad to share our experiences with Insafe and look forward to welcoming another year as a helpline in the Insafe cooperation network.

 

Written by Merete Pilegaard Rasmussen, voluntary communication employee.

New International handbook on online chat counselling

The Ch@advice project is well on its way and the Belgian digital counselling establishment, which advices children and young people online and offline on issues concerning sexual abuse has functioned since January 2012 and has just about found its professional standpoint. As written earlier in May CfDP has been invited to join the advisory board, which objective is to ensure that the new counselling project works well on the basis of a strong, professional foundation. Last week I participated in the first advisory board meeting.

Handbook on online chat counselling for all of Europe

Ch@advice is a Daphne project supported by EU and besides having a counselling platform for children and teens the intention is to create a European platform for sharing knowledge of digital counselling and furthermore to contribute with a handbook on online chat counselling. It is meant to function as a source of inspiration to digital chat counselling associations that are already established in EU but also organisations that contemplate starting one.

The preparation of the handbook is the crowning glory for Arteveldehogeschool, University of Brussels, which is a collaboration partner at Ch@advice and has researched in online chat counselling since 2007. This is the most intense focus on this digital platform that I know of. The handbook will be published in March 2013.

No answers, only questions

No answers – but the necessary questions you must ask yourself as a digital counselling establishment are in focus. This is the construction chosen for the book by the researchers based on the acknowledgment that cultural and professional differences between borders exclude the option to write an actual manual.

And it is a good conclusion because in a field where method and practice vary according to matters such as the target group, the reflection on and the argumentation for the choices that you make in the shaping of the counselling establishment will be an important tool for the ensuring of the quality.

A little praise to CfDP and our digital counselling platform Cyberhus

An important part of the researchers’ work with online chat counselling has been to scan and analyse the digital counselling offers that exist within EU. On their way they also ran into Cyberhus and apart from using Cyberhus as an example of practice I also received a bunch of praising words. In their point of view, Cyberhus came across as being one of the most innovative, well-considered and reflective digital establishments for children and teens in EU.

When I was asked how we got this far I answered that we are really good at asking ourselves critical questions and being curious about our own and new practices. This is also one of the reasons why I look very much forward to the publications of their new handbook on online chat counselling, and hopefully there are questions in there which we have not yet considered asking ourselves and which can inspire us in the future.

 

Written by Erroll Marshall

Safer Internet Forum – conference in Brussels

Safer Internet Forum will take place on 18 and 19 October 2012 in Brussels and CfDP wants to be a part of it when the scene sets for the conference with the theme “Creating a Better Internet for Children and Young People”. Since the beginning in 2004, a conference is held each year dealing with safer internet issues. There will be a wide range of professionals participating in the event coming from different countries both outside and inside of Europe.

Kristian Lund from the Centre for Digital Youth Care is experienced in working with digital pedagogy and he will take part in a panel discussion under the title “What services for A Better Internet”. Among other things he will touch upon matters such as the need for professional adults to rethink their way of meeting and working with children and young people, how to improve digital skills and competencies of youths and how to involve children and teens in digital questions and dilemmas through dialogue.

The agenda of the conference can be found here – and it looks like we can look forward to two motivating and educational days in Brussels with many interesting presentations.

Direct link to the registration form

Written by Merete Pilegaard Rasmussen, voluntary communication employee.

International conference in Cyprus

The Mediterranean Sea roars outside my window and the warmth of the sun is different from the wet weather I left behind in Aarhus yesterday…. But now we shall focus on “Promoting Internet Safety Globally – Connecting generation”, which is the title of Insafe’s international conference in Cyprus.

Professionals, researchers and decision-makers from 44 countries are present in the hall and it is both fascinating and interesting to gain an insight into how others work with the online life of children and teens in for example Uganda, China, Brasilia and the Middle East. The program of the day has come to an end and I just felt like sharing some of my experiences.

CfDP/Cyberhus inspires    

I was invited to Cyprus to represent the helplines in EU and to talk about how we meet children and teens at Cyberhus, and how the network of helplines in Insafe functions and works in practice.

This session took place yesterday and was intended to inspire countries that are in the start-up phase or think of establishing a digital helpline. I was given 20 minutes to talk and my focus was primarily on parts of our new statistics, which you can read more about in my colleague Niels Christian’s blog post here (in Danish), and on why I believe that the anonymous, digital counselling is important when working with vulnerable children.

The following lunch was set up as a working lunch, where Armenia, Israel, Lebanon and Cyprus invited me to a meeting in order for them to go deeper into challenges that they experience in the process of establishing their own helplines. Primarily, they were curious about how to use anonymous chat counselling and how to handle approaches about sexual abuse.

They were extremely curious and eager to get started, which among other things led to CfDP holding a workshop for their counsellors later this year.

2020 – The digital future     

The EU Commission, Afonso Ferreira from DG INFSO, held the most interesting presentation of the day and he understood to highlight the objective of the conference, namely, to focus on how to relate to the children and teen’s future lives online. By focusing on digital and technological scenarios in 2020 and by giving a philosophical retrospect of the technological development during the last 100 years, he made a stepping-stone to the “World café discussion” session of the conference.

That was a session that really made me think about our work at Cyberhus and the necessity of continue being curious about how we meet and work with children and young people in the future. Should we offer a stationary digital platform that the children can visit or should we be more pro-active and outreaching – and how? New types of digital platforms etc.

These questions take up much of our time during the weekdays and our co-operation with Noriso – Youth Department, city of Helsinki, Finland, is a great example of that. They focus on developing and think about new digital methods to work with children and teens (you can find further information about that in this blog post (in Danish)). It is important to understand the children’s lives and how online elements influence them in order to make sure that a meeting with the young person, who needs help, is held.           

It is so positive to experience this focus at the conference and I hope the result will be new exciting collaboration partners, new research and pedagogical initiative on a global level.

 

Written by Erroll Marshall

CfDP is a new member of a Belgian advisory board

The 13 of June I join Ch@advice’s advisory board and that makes up both an exciting professional challenge for me and gives us an acknowledgment of our work with digital counselling at Cyberhus.dk. Ch@advice is a European project, which focuses on online chat counselling for children and teens that have been subjects to sexual abuse, and is supported by the European commission.

The project is coordinated by the Belgian helpline Child Focus in collaboration with Artevelde University College and Applied Telecommunication (OIAT).

Ch@advice has existed for almost a year and the purpose of the creation of an advisory board is, naturally, to ensure the best possible quality of the chat counselling through critical feedback and knowledge sharing. Time and means are set aside for two meetings this year, one in June and one in December.

Three primary working points are set up:

1. Analysis of already existing digital counselling establishments in Europe.    
2. General feedback on their counselling methods and organisation.
3. Inspiration and suggestions for the composition of manuals and practical guides to their counselling methods.

An interesting compound of professionals

Experts and professionals from all over Europe, with an expertise in digital pedagogy and counselling, make up this advisory board and besides the focus mentioned above the scene will be set for future co-operations and further development.

Therefore, it is extremely motivating to have the opportunity to become a part of the advisory board, as I am sure it will bring along new knowledge and inspiration to our own work and perhaps also to new, interesting projects in EU relations. I believe I will be inspired to write a new and more detailed blog post when the work commence.

 

Written by Erroll Marshall

Online chat counselling at Cyberhus – seen and heard in the EU

The EU Commission’s insafe training meeting in Sofia, Bulgaria, has come to an end and before heading back home I am taking some time to reflect on the events of the last two days.

The title of the conference was “Teens and sexuality – online” and I was asked to share the experience that we have gained at Cyberhus from working with online chat counselling for children and teens being subjects to sexual abuse. For this presentation the two manuals on counselling, which we use as educational tools for our online and correspondence advisers, were chosen by the EU Commission to be translated and distributed to the members representing the 32 participating countries.

Challenge
The experience of working with online chat counselling varies among the EU helplines. There are examples of everything from a new helpline using telephone counselling without any digital platform to large established helplines working with a wide range of digital counselling options for children and teens.

That made up a challenge for me, as I wanted my contribution to be relevant and useful to everybody concerned. I chose to divide my presentation into two parts.

1. Why online chat counselling?
Both on a national and international level I experience that many professionally based counselling and treatment offers include spectacular and well-meaning opportunities to help and advice children and teens.

However, the problem is that these offers are often based on a non-anonymous, active and outreaching action from the children. But a child who has e.g. been sexually abused or experienced neglect of care in any kind of way, has not necessarily developed the personal resources and capacity needed in order for it to contact and ask a “stranger” and/or a professional adult for help. On top of everything else, the communication might entail a report and withdrawal of the local authority and the parents. This means that such a dialogue involves consequences which can be difficult to handle.

For that reason offers and opportunities, that are more likely to consider this group of vulnerable children, are needed – and here online chat counselling becomes an option.

Chat is often the first step….for a lot of kids

I wanted to show the necessity of thinking about counselling opportunities as being a step-by-step process for the teens.

By offering an anonymous, digital counselling opportunity the vulnerable child has an opportunity to practise putting its own feelings into words, to experience that there could be contrasts to what dad might have said through several years, or get the opportunity to regain trust in adults by experiencing that they want to listen and help.

 This process may possibly enable the children to build up the tools and resources which empower them to take the next step towards a better life and maybe even a treatment.

2. Thoughts, questions and reflections

Cultural and political differences are big across the EU countries and among these also the way in which we perceive digital counselling. Therefore, I chose a different approach to the second part of my presentation. The goal was that in spite of all the differences, I wanted everybody to leave with questions and reflections that would inspire them and could be implemented into their own practices.

The reflections could be on anything from defining a chat, defining the target group to dealing with great and small pedagogical questions such as: How do we relate to returning cases? Is there any right way to end an online chat? How long should an online chat last? Which conversational theories and methods do we use?

I asked the questions and the participants answered them in accordance with their own reality and in the following opportunity to ask questions there were a lot of activity. It seemed that the questions that we have asked ourselves daily at Cyberhus for the last 8 years were relevant here as well.

Pedagogical curiosity pays off

The characteristic of the work in the pedagogical team has, since the creation of Cyberhus in 2004, been a great curiosity about digital pedagogy in all its aspects. In my opinion, we have been good at asking the hard and necessary questions, even though the answer did not always make up an easy solution.

I believe that today we have a well-considered and reflective professionalism – that was what I experienced in Sofia today.

 

Written by Erroll Marshall

 

CfDP holds a workshop in Beirut…

This is not a headline that we normally make use of at CfDP – but now the time has come.

I have just returned home after holding a two weeks long workshop in Beirut, Lebanon, with the title “The Digital counselling Workshop”. A new e-helpline has come into existence in Lebanon (the first one of its kind in the Middle East), which primary task is to advise children and teens on online related problems through mail counselling. Many interested parties took part in the workshop and they are all going to collaborate on this interesting project:

Project co-ordinators from the organisation World Vision Lebanon, the Police’s Cyber Crime Unit, the ministry for social affairs and psychologists from the organisation Himaya, a total of 30 persons, will be in charge of the actual counselling.

The credit for making this workshop a realisation should considerably be given to Mandy Yamanis from World Vision, who three years ago decided to provide the children and teens of the region with the opportunity to get help and counselling concerning online issues. She is a highly far-sighted and visionary woman, who I had the pleasure of meeting at a conference in Luxembourg last year. We continued our dialogue and soon it became clear that our experience with our digital counselling platform Cyberhus could benefit the development of this e-helpline. Mandy managed to find the finances needed for travelling and lodging and CfDP decided to contribute with a free workshop.

The purpose of the workshop was as follows:

1: To give a better insight in digital communication with children and teens, primarily from a counselling perspective.

2: To create a better understanding and insight transversely to the different professional groups involved, with special reference to the preparation of concrete collaborative agreements.

Both Himaya, Cyber Crime Unit and World Vision do an amazing job for children and teens in Lebanon. World Vision for example is at present involved in projects concerning primarily health, education and life skills, which have a direct influence on 90,000 children. Now the idea was to transform all the knowledge and commitment into a digital effort. That makes up an interesting exercise because even though there are a lot of similarities and professional overlaps between social work online and offline, the digital contribution brings along specific challenges. At the workshop we covered matters such as:

Intro to Cyberhus

We started out with an extensive introduction to Cyberhus and our working methods in our counselling department. Our methods and considerations resulted in interesting discussions, in which the psychologists from Himaya in particular showed a great knowledge and curiosity.

Thoughts and considerations were aroused and now we could start focusing on their own helplines.

An objectives hierarchy

The first step was the creation of an objectives hierarchy, which seemed to be a big and important challenge for the participants. The awareness of the primary target group and the overall objective, when working digitally, is central to how we choose to design our digital counselling platform – including everything for graphics and the language to the actual counselling method.

The matter was discussed at great length and it became apparent that the different professional groups had dissimilar objectives and approaches towards the objective. We did not reach a final result; however, ideas and intentions were put into words. As the workshop progressed and the time came to define the different work processes and methods it became clear to the participants how important this common goal is.

For example when approaching the issue of identifying the child writing to us       

This specific area caused the most comprehensive discussions and highlighted the differences within the group. What did the process, from the girl writing us for the first time to a possible intervention from the police/the social authorities, look like? Should the child from day one be connected to one specific counsellor? How did you decide whether the approach was serious or not? Etc.

 To show my point, I compared Cyberhus with the Danish organisation Albahus (who agreed to be used as an example). Both organisations have different answers to the questions above, exactly because our overall objectives are dissimilar. At Cyberhus our overall objective is to create safe surroundings where the child can express itself, whereas at Albahus the goal is to put a stop to sexual abuse. The difference in objectives also results in differences in the way we identify the children and their needs.

I kept challenging them over and over again asking them about the primary objective of their helpline, because only in that way they will be able to draw up deliberate working methods.

Anonymous or non- anonymous

The counselling has been presented as being anonymous, which means that the children can read on the front page that the dialogue is confidential and stays between the person in question and the counsellor. Nevertheless, the police want a direct access to the IP address used and would like to start investigating the case without informing the child.

A number of ethical and pedagogical questions pour out of me and that creates discussions transversely to the professional groups. With their practice and logical sense the police saw many advantages of the working method, as it provides a direct opportunity of helping children in need, whereas the psychologists from Himaya found that there were several ethical issues connected to how the counselling is presented to the children.

Therefore, the task was to agree on some working procedures and how to handle information about the child in question, in order to rethink how to introduce it to the child.

An amazing experience

From a personal perspective the workshop in Beirut has been an amazing experience. First of all, all the lovely and proud people that I have met, eager to make a difference for children and teens in Lebanon, have made a huge impression on me. Second of all, it has been an experience to see the different conditions they work under here.  It has been great to experience that CfDP/Cyberhus has been a part of the inspiration to a process which will lead to a very strong digital counselling offer to the children and teens of the country.

 

I would like to congratulate the participants on their new helpline and look forward to following their work.

 

Written by Erroll Marshall

Chasing rabbits in Antwerp

Written by Camilla Rode Jensen.

Last week I participated in the seminer ‘exploring online peer-to-peer support project’ organized by In Petto in Belgium.

Inspired by an early walk in the lovely park in Antwerp, Mick Conroy encouraged us all to chase rabbits when he did his conclusions of the peer to peer seminar. By that he meant working out key messages that we have gained form the seminar which brought a lot of different perspectives together on online peer to peer support. Here are the rabbits that I caught and brought back to Denmark.

 European networking

A lot of rabbits are now back in their native homes, far away from Antwerp. It became clear that many organisations working with peer-to-peer support online as well as offline face the difficulties of documenting the effect of their work. It also became clear, that this is a great issue regarding to

fundraising. We might benefit form bringing our rabbits back together exchanging knowledge on the effect study issue. This is one of the ideas I’ll be looking into as an outcome of the seminar.

 Another issue is exchanging knowledge about how to educate and train volunteers especially when it comes to doing online support. Whether volunteers are peers or professionals, doing online support requires specific skills in order to make sure, that the best support is provided. Again I think we could learn from each other by exchanging experience.

Inspiration

I had the opportunity to tell about Cyberhus peer to peer activities. Due to the fact that we do not have engaged peer advisers I represented a slightly different perspective on peer to peer support – focusing on how to create open safe online environments with in which peers can interact. At the same time I was inspired by the engagement and energy from the peer advisers at the seminar. During my workshops I was giving good ideas on how to engage peer advisers in Cyberhus activities as for example discussion creators, role models and moderators. I brought these rabbits home as well to present for my colleagues.

All together I brought enough rabbits back home to make a nice stew – or maybe that’s taking the symbolics a little to far….

A great thanks to the In Petto team for organising and hosting this inspiring seminar – and lots of greetings to you from Denmark…

Cyberhus in Your Pocket

Young people no longer need to sit in their room, the library, in the club, or where they usually get in online contact with the various counselling services on cyberhus.dk. Over the summer cyberhus.dk has been updated with a mobile platform that makes the site easily accessible from a smartphone.

Sales of smartphones have exploded this past year, and a new study, from the research consultancy Wilke, shows that the young people are taking the lead. 51 per cent of the 15-29 year-olds have a smartphone in their pocket.

Our own data supports Wilke’s study. Throughout 2011, we have experienced a significant increase in visitors visiting cyberhus.dk via mobile phone. In January 2011, 5,2 per cent, equivalent to 1307 visitors used a mobile phone. In August 2011, the number had increased to 2974 visitors, equivalent to 10,9 per cent.

The foundation for Cyberhus’ counselling is an open dialogue at eye level with marginalised young people at risk. Being present in young people’s universe is a prerequisite for such a dialogue. It is our job as adults to make ourselves visible and available where the young people are. That goes for schools, institutions, on a street corner, and online. With Cyberhus in pocket format, the marginalised young people have easier access to counselling from adults, both in chats and Q&As, or the opportunity to stay updated while on the go with recent posts and comments in discussions, blogs, and stories.

 

EU og Insafe Logo
Center for Digital Pædagogiks digitale rådgivning i Cyberhus rådgiver om internetrelaterede problemer, som en del af EU’s Insafe-program, og har fungeret som den danske helpline siden 2009 i tæt samarbejde med Red Barnet og Medierådet for Børn og Unge.

A Blind Eye to Child Pornography?

Denmark has a child pornography filter. And it is such a resounding success that there are plans to spread it throughout EU, and to other areas such as illegal gambling and terror recruiting. But is censorship really the way to secure the best interests of the children, and the web as a positive resource?

The so-called success is easy to measure and explain:

• Private persons report a certain page, the police check whether it is actually child pornography, and if so block the site.

• There are reported approximately 50-100 sites a day, of these 5-10 are blocked.

• Those sites are often blocked; the police have even reported up to 2700 daily attempts to access one of the blocked sites!

 

What Is In Fact Blocked?

First of all, the sites that are blocked are rarely made by pedophiles for pedophiles, full of child pornography. It is often pornographic sites with thousands of pictures, video clips, or links, one of which has been estimated to be illegal. An impartial analysis made in Germany last year only found illegal material on less than 2 per cent of these sites. The majority had long since closed. It also explains the frightening number of blockings per day; 2700 attempts to watch child pornography in Denmark. But there is really no reason to assume that the visitors are looking for child pornography; the sites contain so much more that we cannot draw conclusions. So in fact, we do not know whether we have stopped even one pedophile from viewing illegal pornography at least once! And we provide no opportunity for appeal or any other form of review of the system.

 

Who Are Stopped?

On the contrary, there is good reason to believe that the real attempts to access child pornography will circumvent the filter completely, and otherwise succeed without problems. The filtering occurs at the DNS level, which in simple terms is equivalent to deleting people from the directory. When you write `google.com´ in your address bar or click on a link for the same, your computer looks up the right so-called IP address in an online `directory´ – when you visit Google, you are in fact visiting `74.125.79.99´. There are thousands of so-called `directories´ (DNS servers) and the child pornography filter works by altering a few Danish ones. It takes about 30-60 seconds to ask the computer to use another DNS server, and then you are 100 percent free from the filter for the indefinite future.

Pedophiles using the web to find child pornography have thus been delayed approximately 60 seconds by the initiative. With a google search or a little help from others, or the salesmen you want to stop, and you have instant access to everything again. And then the cash flow, which the initiative was to attack, is completely unaffected.

 

What Can We Do?

In our online counselling, Cyberhus, we are confronted with children who have experienced the unthinkable. We ca,n as society and neighbour, not do enough to find and help these children, and our contribution is to be ready with a hand as soon as they reach for one. We are just as uncomprehending and disgusted by the poor wretches living with such a stunted sexuality that they are driven to these assaults, and fully support initiatives to help with investigation, apprehension, and subsequent treatment of them.

But we cannot condone all of Denmark collectively putting on a pair of expensive, rose-coloured glasses instead of working to actually get rid of the problem. AK Zensur, who analysed parts of the Danish blocking list, sent emails to the providers of the three (out of 167!) sites that actually contained illegal material – two of them were removed within 30 minutes. Contrary to the approach of the Danish child pornography filter, the material was then completely removed from the web, and not only made invisible to the Danish people (who choose to accept the blocking).

Our priority should be to continue and strengthen the investigation and the international collaboration which is already yielding results in actually finding the perpetrators and stopping concrete assaults. To curb the spread of child pornography can only be a distant secondary goal, which can only be deemed a success when we remove the material where it is really located, and preferably also identify its source.

 

The Blind Eyes

When we instead censor, we turn a blind eye in two ways: First of all, we choose as a nation not to look at it instead of actually doing something about it. Second, we produce a lot of statistics, lists of suspicious sites, and put a lot of people to work – and tell ourselves that we have done something and achieved success by delaying a couple of pedophiles’ hunting for porn a few minutes.

It is a wrong priority, a dangerous slippery slope towards more and more censorship, and it lull us into false security.

 

This blog post is somewhat inspired by an article in the Danish newspaper Information – ´ Børneporno er et argument, der trumfer alt andet´.

The German report on the blocked sites is avaible in English as .pdf

NÄKÖKULMIA – Finnish Point of View on Cyberhus

This April, the Finnish online magazine Koordinaatti features an article about the digital counselling in Cyberhus. The magazine is directed at Finnish professionals working with counselling of marginalised children and young people. Under the heading NÄKÖKULMIA (point of view) they wanted to tell about our experiences with online counselling.

The article is part of several exciting initiatives in Finland stemming from the network project `The European Digital Youth Information Project´, which ran from spring 2010 to February 2011. Together with partners from Spain, Finland, Belgium, United Kingdom, and Ireland we were granted money from the EU in order to exchange experiences across national borders and cultural differences about the use of digital media for children and young people. The project was to identify and share best practises, and knowledge on a regional, national, and European level. Information from 3,000 children and young people from all the countries has been collected and is processed in England in these weeks.

The Finnish `National Coordination and Development Centre of Youth Information and Counselling Services´ was the Finnish partner in the project, and subsequently we have continued the collaboration, latest with the article in Koordinaatti. In May, the NORDIC NETWORKING seminar NORDBUK takes place in Helsinki, where we among other things have been invited to participate with presentations on the subject `Equality and Diversity in the Youth Area´.

The article in the online Finnish magazine Koordinaatti.

EU og Insafe Logo
Centre for Digital Youth Care’s digital counseling in Cyberhus deals with internet-related issues, as a part of the EU Insafe program, and has served as the Danish helpline in close collaboration with Save the Children, Denmark and the Council for Children and Young People since 2009.

Shallow Waters in the Skulls?

The philosopher Nicholas Carr has arrived in Denmark. Or rather, his views are being heard – latest in a broadcast on a Danish radio channel. His book `The Shallows – What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains’ was published in June and has been the topic of discussion ever since, including in USA, where Carr is living.

The views resonates in many places, and it is worth asking the question of whether the new media are as positive as most people believe them to be – we have already asked the question here at CfDP. Carr chooses as starting point the known principle that our brains changes depending on what they are doing. If someone plays chess all their lives, their brains will keep track of thousands of possible future patterns on the board. If someone is rock climbing, it is almost as if their hands remember where the next hold is even if they are already looking further up, and there is no conscious though of it. More is happening in the back of our heads than we realise – and we are continuously specialising in using the tools to whatever tasks we are faced with.

And Carr believes that the internet, with Facebook, YouTube, and a constant stream of new, interesting sites to visit, trains especially the brains of the youngest generation to become worse.

By worse, Carr means worse at concentration. He might possible be right; especially children and young people are easily distracted by all the fun things. Just one more game, just one more YouTube video, just until this show is over… There is nothing new about distractions, and there is nothing new in parents, educators, and teachers having to take responsibility for limiting these when it is dinnertime, time for work, homework, etc. So far few, and certainly not I or CfDP – Centre for Digital Youth Care, disagree.

 

Dangerous Tools?

But Carr takes it one step further, and believes that the new digital distractions are even worse. The mobile phone is taken everywhere, Facebook is checked at any given opportunity, etc. It is not only time that is being spent, and which is fairly easy to limit as a responsible adult, it is the way we use the tools that are problematic.

`Over the years’, Carr writes, `I have had the unpleasant feeling that someone, or something, is tinkering with my brain, reprogramming the neurons, reprogramming the memory’. CfDP’s resident philosopher and project manager, Kristian Lund, could not agree more. He has felt the changes himself. When he is in need of a word, he googles it – sometimes Google finds it first, sometimes the grey matter in his skull is kickstarted in finding good search words and it wins the race. Kristian Lund can barely remember his own phone number if someone takes his mobile – but with it he can find his way to Rome on a bicycle and remember emails of everyone he has ever written to.

Young people growing up with the new media of today will end up with totally different brains and minds than we adults did. Just as the written language changed how we use our memory – no one remembers an entire Homeric heroic poem by heart anymore – the digital media changes our way of thought. And every time someone laments the lost; the perhaps first philospopher, Plato, was perhaps also the first to do exactly that, when the written language obtained became popular:

`…this invention… will create oblivion in those who must learn, for they will not use their own memory, they will rely on the signs outside of themselves and not remember by their own unaided efforts´.

But is that so bad? Lets us look at another technology that we have gotten used to; our wrist watches. No one can tell the time anymore, Plato would complain – a critic, following Carr’s way of thinking, would focus on the fact that we check our clocks obsessively; we become distracted and strange in the head by being dependent on knowing what time it is. Do we need to know? How much is it costing our brains to keep track of when we last looked?

 

Is the ´Water Level´ in the Skull the Most Important?

Another contemporary philosopher, Andy Clark, has a response ready to that criticism. He thinks that the watch is a part of our minds. There is constantly a little ping-pong back and forth between brain and watch – and it results in a fairly good sense of what time it is. The same is happening with the social tools – by texting ´’happening?´ to friends once in a while, checking Facebook, etc. the young people get a sense of where their friends are, how they are, and what the status of the friendship is. Some of this process happens on the computer, some on the phone, and some on Facebook’s servers – and some happens within the skull.

It is quite natural, and it happens all the time. We keep an eye on our neighbour in class, we notice the pitch of our fellow passengers in the bus. We receive thousands of signals all the time. Unconsciously and effectively they paint a picture of the world now. The brain cooperates all the time with thousands of sensory signals, which does not ruin thought but actively feeds it important information, consciously and unconsciously. Why should electronic signals be any different?

Even this blog post stems from something which appeared in Kristian Lund’s social streams; blogs, Facebook, and news papers lying around. Without counting or really thinking about it, he decided that Carr has arrived in Denmark. This is where the concentration starts and he checks his search history and bookmarks in his browser, his coworkers, and a little on Google – while he writes the Danish version of this blog post. It works satisfactorily.

Off course, we need to teach children and young people concentration, but we need not be scared that our and their consciousness drifts to several media in between and during work. We do not need people who can cite Homer or write one book from another book – we need a generation that can find new connections and collect new thoughts in the information stream. We are allowed to spread our consciousness out into the ether.

Carr and Clark’s two perhaps most important books on the subject.

Offline/Online – One World for Children and Young People

Young people does not distinguish between the wall on Facebook and the quarrel in the schoolyard. For them it is a whole. If we, as professionals, divide this world, we risk losing the opportunity to reach and help young people.

Children and young people are increasingly looking for help and good advice on internet-related problems from the European helplines that offer general counselling (NGO) rather than the helplines that only offer specific internet-related counselling. This is evident from a new survey among EU’s helplines under Insafe – Safer Internet Plus Programme.

This is concurrent with our experiences. For us, it is evident that children and young people no longer distinguish between their online and offline lives. For children and young people it is all one world and it does not make any sense for them to divide it. And it no longer should for us professionals.

 

We Should Not Distinguish

If a young person has experienced being bullied on Facebook by some young people from class, then focus is on the relationship between the young person and the bullies. Not Facebook and the web, which in this case is merely the platform, where the bullying takes place. Furthermore, the relationship is often not limited to Facebook, but also a problem in the schoolyard, in class, on the mobile, etc. Our counselling must therefore take the possible feelings of the bullied and the relationship between the involved parties as starting point. In counselling, we must not distinguish between the wall on Facebook and the quarrel in the schoolyard, because for the young person it is a whole.

 

Only Part of the Solution

It is not to say that we do not involve concrete, internet-related solutions and opportunities, such as reviews, blocking profiles, and general online behaviour. But it is only part of the solution. We must also have the conversation with the educators, the parents, and the schoolyard as part of the basket of opportunities we are working on with young people.

 

Entirely Integrated Part of Everyday Life

When a child is bullied online, the child does not experience it as an internet-related problem, but as a problem in his or her social circles. As a consequence, the young person increasingly seek a general counselling, where it is the human relationship that is the starting point, and it is in this relationship the solution must be found. It is important that we are very aware of this in our online youth care work with children and young people.

As adults and professionals, we must understand the young person’s perception of the internet as an entirely integrated part of their everyday life and worldview. If, as professionals, we divide this world, we risk offering counselling that is not relevant to the young person, and on this basis we lose the opportunity of reaching and helping the young person.

Cyberhus is appointed official helpline in Denmark under EU’s Safer Internet Programme

 

Generation Online Still Lacks Guides

The questions are many and varied, when the internet and mobile phone mixes in everyday life with children and young people. Not least for those professionals who daily deal with children and young people. Therefore Safer Internet Day, and the multitude of nationwide activities that usually follows, was this year supplemented by the conference `Generation Online´, which took place at University College South Denmark in Esbjerg. It is the first time that a conference is organised in Denmark in connection to Safer Internet Day.

The Media Council for Children and Young People in Denmark organised the day together with several collaborators, among others Cyberhus, and the conference dealt with three topics; Digital bullying, Positive and creative use of digital media, and Children and Young People as citizens and consumers in a digital society. The goal was to give everyone working with children and young people – educators, teachers, consultants, educators at undergraduate colleges and others – hands-on tools and knowledge of children and young people’s use of digital media, so professionals are prepared to raise awareness about positive and responsible use of the internet and new online technologies among children and young people.

 

Still A Need for Guides

At the conference, it was established that digital media becoming an entirely integrated part of young people’s everyday life has not made promoting well-being less important. But currently it can be difficult to find out where the teachers on playground duty are in the virtual universe.

`It is important that parents have contact with what happens when young people are on the web, and that parents, in this universe as well, guide and help children and young people in the same manner as in the physical universe. Educators, teachers, and professionals in general have a similar responsibility to pick up on especially the marginalised children and young people who might not necessarily have the same resourceful guides as support´, says Birgitte Holm Sørensen, Chairman, The Media Council for Children and Young People in Denmark.

 

The Role as Social Compass

You should not let all the new and unexplored, signaled in expressions such as new media, virtual landscapes, online life, and young people as digital natives, get you down. The roles of professionals have not changed radically in relation to children and young people, but the surroundings have, and this demands a renewal of the socioeducational toolbox.

`You should not be intimidated by the fact that children and young people seem to be far ahead in the use of Facebook, smart phones, and so on´, says Sidsel Stenbak Hollmann, who has been anti-bullying consultant since 1999 and is among other things co-founder of the network AMOK. `Of course, children and young people will be technologically ahead of adults. It is nothing new. But it does not change the fact that parents and professionals must be young people’s social compass´, says Sidsel Stenbak Hollmann.

 

Vital to Follow Young People Into Cyberspace

Talking about the social compass, she is in agreement with us – and the Media Council for Children and Young People in Denmark. `The internet has changed the way we live and learn, and has simultaneously created a multitude of new opportunities for collaboration, creativity, and development. Especially children and young people, which have grown up in a digital life, know how to use the media potential. It is therefore also important that adults, working with children and young people, use the new digital media in the work with children and young people´, says Birgitte Holm Sørensen, for example in the invitation to `Generation Online´.

A request, we support, and an area we have six years of experience with. We do not see Danish children and young people as innocent and uncritical victims of digital dangers, although they lack some skills, when it comes to mastering the internet with common sense.

Our philosophy is that young people with a few rules can ensure that movements on the web can remain a safe extension and expansion of the good social life. It is therefore important that we professionals follow children and young people into cyberspace and focuses on children and young people’s digital life. With that message, we say thank you for an interesting Safer Internet Day in 2011 and look forward to a challenging year.

 

Safer Internet Day has been celebrated all over the world since 2004, and this year the day was celebrated in more than 70 countries. International campaigns and initiatives are organised through the European network, Insafe. Since 2009, Cyberhus has been the Danish helpline in the Insafe.

Cyberhus Receives Backing Worth Millions

Cyberhus has, after a year of intensive search for political and financial backing, just been granted a lifeline of DKK 2 millions.

About a year ago, the rug was almost pulled out from under Cyberhus when our application for government funds from the Ministry of Social Affairs was rejected. The application, which was on approx. DKK 2 millions a year, should have ensured our primary operations and retained our employees and nearly 100 volunteers over the next year, so we could have time to develop, establish, and consolidate the collaboration on virtual counselling and online social education with municipalities.

From the political side they risked, with the rejection of the application, to throw out six years of unique knowledge and experience with online counselling of marginalised children and young people. This is the reason we, throughout 2010, have tried to make ourselves heard by politicians, so six years of experience and financial backing will not be wasted, and so marginalised children and young people will continue having an online meeting place where they can receive help and counselling from competent adult counsellors who listen to the young people on their own terms.

Thanks to the spokesman of the Danish political party, Kristendemokraterne, Per Ørum Jørgensen, we have now been heard and financially backed. In connection with the budget negotiations, he set up a special fund for social projects, and it was a consolation for the historically small government funds that social organisations usually subsist on. Now it benefits Cyberhus and thousands of marginalised children and young people, since the Danish Parliament’s Finance Committee has recently approved a grant of DKK 2 millions.

 

A Roller Coaster Year Is Over

The million appropiation is a positive ending of a year, which has been something of a rollercoaster ride for Cyberhus. Last year’s rejection presented us with a very big challenge.

Even though our offer lies within the municipal supply requirement, it has been very difficult to get municipalities to take part in paying for a web-based nationwide offer.

The socioeducational work on the web is still a task that does not have a particular high priority in the various municipalities. However, we estimate that it is here the biggest development will happen from here on out, and not least opportunities to reduce some of the public costs.

We are well underway working on and establishing the collaboration with the municipalities, and there is no doubt that the municipalities have to pay their share of the costs. But it takes time.

We had hoped for support from the Ministry of Social Affairs for this process over the next couple of years, but after the rejection we were quite frankly faced with a somewhat more uncertain future, despite being able to document progress for our socioeducational meeting with children and young people on the web year after year.

 

Can Ensure Anchoring in the Municipalities

In Cyberhus and in our parent organisation, Ungdommens Vel (Youth Welfare), we have never doubted that an early social intervention towards marginalised children and young people is a gain both in relation to young people’s welfare and to society in general. A point of view that has been supported by CASA’s large analysis `Investeringer i tidlige sociale indsatser’ (Investments in Early Social Interventions) from November 2010.

We can wonder at the hitherto lukewarm support from national side, which has led to a very real risk that many successful ideas and projects would fail.

But now we receive the much-needed support for the further process, and we are ready to work to ensure our online drop-in centre and counselling offer will be continued and further developed benefiting the many marginalised children and young people who use Cyberhus on a daily basis.

We have been given a gift that ensures our further work on a number of platforms for a while,, and not least which gives us time to anchor our projects in the municipalities so we get a coherent socioeducational effort nationwide, which meet the socially marginalised children and young people where they are in increasing degree, namely online.

The Safe Environment of the Q&As…

2011 has kicked off and cyberhus.dk’s Q&As continue the explosive growth. January saw 164 answers from our volunteer counsellors, which is the highest number ever for one month.

The trend from the last couple of years continues. In both 2009 and 2010, we saw the number of questions from children and young people rising by just over 100 percent. The reason for this increase our coordinating counsellor, Erroll Marshall, thinks can be found primarily in the following two aspects:

 

1. The Knowledge of Cyberhus Is Spreading…

We experience a general increase of visitors on the site. In Counselling we see young people recommending Cyberhus to each other, which is fantastic. This shows that the young people think we do a good job, and that they feel comfortable talking to us, which has been the primary goal for Cyberhus from the beginning.

Our Google optimising has also been of great importance, and Cyberhus now features higher and higher in the young people’s google search on help and information on what is important to them. Here the large number of questions and answers in our Q&As is an essential factor.

 

2. The Q&A’s Safe Environment

Anonymity and no conversation:

We often find that the Q&A is a young person’s first attempt to ask for help and advice, and perhaps the first time they formulate their thoughts and feelings to another person. This lack of experience in articulating their feelings and thoughts that characterise many young people today, makes the conversation with a parent or teacher confusing and difficult for the young person. They are anonymous in the Q&A and can write their questions and describe their situation at their own pace.

The respectful meeting:

In counselling, we have worked hard and professionally with the respectful and written meeting between the young person and the adult counsellor in the Q&A. Erroll Marshall thinks that the educational and ethical ponderings, which is the basis for our answers, pays off and that young people feel they can use our Q&A constructively in their life. He thinks they feel they have been heard, respected, and not least they experience an adult wants to help and takes the necessary time to do it.

Our answers are published on cyberhus.dk, and we can see that our answers are being read by many people. Erroll Marshall believes that children and young people read them to make sure that the adults answering are ‘decent’ before they put up questions of their own.

The virtual platform:

Cyberhus is an online club house, and therefore the web-based aspect is important in this context. The vulnerable young person feels at home on the web, and often feels more comfortable than for an example at an interview at the staff room at school, at the doctor, at the social worker’s office, or at the dining table with mom and dad. This often creates a more safe and constructive foundation for the first dialogue/counselling with an adult.

There can be no doubt that the aim of the Q&As and our counselling in general in Cyberhus is to motivate and ready the young person to seek the dialogue and help with adults in real life. But the opportunity to practise in a Q&A can be a step in that direction.

2011 will be an exciting year in the Q&As, because we, by the number of questions and affiliated volunteers, are also challenged to maintain and continually develop a strong professional and ethical focus in our answers. Every child and every question is unique and must be met and answered as such.

From Cyberhus to CfDP

It is a great honour for us to bid you welcome to CfDP – Centre for Digital Youth Care.

The concept is the result of six years of experience with children, young people, media, and online counselling on cyberhus.dk. In the last six years, we have here met, involved, and counselled thousands of children and young people online. Moreover, over the last four years we have been putting web and mobile ethics up for discussion in Danish schools via the Cyberskole.

It is initiatives such as these that have contributed to the development of our unique and extensive knowledge within the field of digital youth care – a knowledge we now communicate through CfDP – Centre for Digital Youth Care to professionals and organisations that want to meet children and young people online at eye level.

CfDP – Centre for Digital Youth Care is established as a socioeconomic company that will communicate knowledge about digital youth care and offer digital collaborative projects on market conditions. In addition, CfDP will continue running and developing the popular projects, Cyberhus and Cyberskole, for children and young people. Involving children and young people is still the essence of our work, and here we ensure that the knowledge and products, which CfDP offers, is aimed at those children and young people that will use them.

CfDP – Centre for Digital Youth Care’s employees all have many years of experience with children, young people, and digital media. They all have varied interests within the field – and the scene is set for interesting blogposts, debates, projects, and presentations on this website and in Denmark.

So once again – WELCOME to CfDP – Centre for Digital Youth Care – we look forward to collaborating and sharing our knowledge with you and your organisation, institution or company.

Super Busy Counselling Year for Cyberhus

CfDP – Centre for Digital Youth Care builds on the countless experiences from Cyberhus, which has been online counselling centre and meeting place for children and young people for six years.

Cyberhus has build a unique knowledge about how you via websites and social media meets and talks to children and young people about life’s ups and downs, and 2010 was certainly no exception. It was a very busy counselling year.

At the bottom of this page, we have gathered the key figures for 2010. Among other things, they show that the number of answers in the Q&As have almost doubled. The number of chat conversations have increased with 27 percent, and the number of contributions in `Fortæl din historie´ (Tell Your Story) have almost tripled compared to 2009. The number of volunteer counsellors in the chat and the Q&As increased to 50 in 2010, and in the chat counselling the actual counselling time was almost doubled from 2009 to 2010.

 

Growth Invites Reflection

There is reason to be pleased by the progress of especially our youth-to-adult communication. At the same time it is thought-provoking that so many children and young people need to visit us. It would be interesting to study if there is an increase in children and young people at risk in Denmark, if they generally use the web more, and more specifically, whether they have become more set on using the web to find help and guidance, also about the things that hurts.

We can note and be pleased with that the knowledge of Cyberhus has increased, and that the safe, anonymous, and competent environment, we have built for peer communication and for communication between young people and adult counsellors, makes more and more young people feel safe visiting and using us.

 

More Determined Users

The only area, in which we have experienced a decrease on cyberhus.dk, is in relation to the number of unique users in our rooms and workshops. In 2010, we had 36,972 unique visits in the rooms. If we look at the increase in contributions to debates, Q&As, and `Fortæl din historie´at precisely these places, it could indicate that our users have become more determined, so that they head directly for the Q&A or chat counselling, when entering cyberhus.dk, assesses Niels-Christian Bilenberg, Counselling Coordinator in Cyberhus.

And Cyberhus is generally well visited, in 2010 we had more than 180,000 visitors, spread on 451 towns.

 

When It Hurts Deep Down

A picture begins to emerge of, just as in 2009, topics such as eating disorders, suicidal thoughts, love, and sexual abuse are the most searched for on cyberhus.dk. Young people do not need to have problems to use cyberhus.dk, they can visit us just for fun – and they do – but is has become clear that, to many young people, Cyberhus has come to mean the place to go if you feel really bad. Our category `Når det gør ondt inderst inde´ (When It Hurts Deep Down) is the most frequented in debates, Q&As, and `Fortæl din historie´.

 

Lots of Positive Energy

Even though it is a growth providing food for thought, we can, on the basis of the figures for 2010, take a lot of positive energy with us into 2011. We have been confirmed in that we are doing a great job in relation to young people. We are no longer the `new ones´. We are really well visited, we are used actively, and we get lots of positive feedback, which we can build on in 2011, which already looks very exciting.

First milestone is that we have now established CfDP – Centre for Digital Youth Care, which will produce and communicate knowledge about social work in digital media. A knowledge which stems from our unique and extensive knowledge of the digital youth care field, built through six years with Cyberhus and four years with the Cyberskole.

 

Selections of Counselling Figures from 2010:

  • The chat counselling: 1,987 conversations (increase of approx. 27 percent compared to 2009)
  • Actual counselling time: 1,515,5 hours (increase of approx. 95 percent compared to 2009)
  • Q&As: 1,660 answers (increase of approx. 82 percent compared to 2009)
  • Unique visitors in the Q&As: 22,517
  • Debates: 1,519 contributions
  • Unique visitors in the debates: 34,400
  • `Fortæl din historie´: 231 contributions (increase of approx. 178 percent compared to 2009)
  • Unique visitors in `Fortæl din historie´: 8,019
  • Unique visitors in rooms and workshops: 36,972
  • Volunteer counsellors: 50
Mobiler Mod Mobning Continues

With the project Mobiler Mod Mobning (Mobiles Against Bullying), Cyberhus – CfDP – Centre for Digital Youth Care and Lommefilm have put digital bullying on the curriculum for secondary school pupils.

The young people have to use their mobile phone in the project; make a storyboard, shoot, edit, and upload small videos against digital bullying and subsequently share, recommend, and discuss the videos on Facebook.

The project is backed by TrygFonden, and to begin with consisted of 15 workshops in the Autumn of 2010 and 15 workshops in the Spring of 2011. In December, TrygFonden gave the project collaborators a nice christmas present. The fact is that TrygFonden supports Cyberhus – CfDP – Centre for Digital Youth Care with DKK 460,000.

The support means that Lommefilm and Cyberhus – CfDP – Centre for Digital Youth Care can offer an additional 15 workshops in the Spring of 2011, so Spring will be crammed with 30 Mobiler Mod Mobning workshops. Moreover, the parties can conduct 30 new workshops in the academic year 2011/2012.

 

The Great Demand Can Be Met

There has been massive interest from schools to establish frameworks for a workshop. More than 150 schools inquired about getting a visit from the team behind Mobiler Mod Mobning in the current academic year, which offered 30 workshops. Now the parties get to meet an even greater share of the demand.

– It is a nice stamp of approval that has positive, far-reaching consequences for our work. Backing from TrygFonden is an essential part of maintaining and developing our work in a good direction, says Kristian Lund, project manager in Cyberhus – CfDP – Centre for Digital Youth Care.

 

New Workshops – New Ideas

In addition to doubling the number of workshops in the Spring, the project partners are producing new ideas. Next Spring, the existing opportunities for uploading and sharing movies via the web will be supplemented with post cards with the so-called QR codes, or mobile barcodes, which for example can be read via the mobile phone. In the Spring, Mobiler Mod Mobning will give the pupils post cards with QR codes holding a link to the pupils’ own campaign videos.

 

Approval of Our Effort

The renewed support from TrygFonden is a good boost and an approval of our project-oriented effort to carry out socioeducational work via new media.

`Mobiler Mod Mobning is a good example in a series of campaigns and projects such as Safer Internet Day and Netsikker Nu Week, where we enter into strong collaborations with other organisations´, says Jonas Ravn, Cybeskole Coordinator. `That we, with Mobiler Mod Mobning, will receive backing for a year and a half is proof that we are good at content-heavy workshops, addressing nationwide issues from a new and positive angle´, he stresses.

You can see one of the many good examples of the Danish pupils’ films about digital bullying here.

Cyberhus Is Heard In European Mobile Strategy

In 2010, the EU Commission’s Safer Internet Programme has met with a number of players within the IT and telecommunications industry in an attempt to improve the safety of children and young people’s use of mobile phones, including the mobile phone’s role as gateway to the Internet and social media.

An extensive process, where CfDP – Centre for Digital Youth Care, in the form of Cyberhus, has been heard, due our role as national helpline in the European Insafe Network, and our six years of experience using new media in the socioeducational work with children and young people. In the end of November 2010, we delivered a presentation to the EU Commission in the wake of the third `Multistakeholder Workshop on Child Safety and Mobile Phones´, which took place in Brussels.

With our `call´ to the EU Commission, we focus on the need for changing the normal way of thinking regarding campaigns and responsibility, and have tried to paint a picture with a wider focus to ensure that also the marginalised will profit from it. This group are most in need of help to change social and online-related patterns.

 

Successfully Involving Young People

We are convinced that children and young people have to be met through dialogue and involvement, and in Denmark we have a tradition of involving young people in a constructive dialogue, also when it comes to raising awareness of web ethics and responsible use of the mobile phone and web. Should we even talk about a successful strategy for positive and responsible use of the mobile phone, it is vital we remember to include both the resourceful and the marginalised young people. To reach both target groups, it is necessary that the IT and telecommunications industry work in close collaboration with knowledge centres, organisations, and professionals with knowledge of, insight into, and hands-on experience with young people’s use and misuse of the mobile phone and online technologies.

 

Positive and Responsible Use of the New Media

In our contribution to the EU Commission, we share our experiences built up through our six years as online counselling centre and meeting place for children and young people on the web. The obvious starting point is our current project `Mobiler Mod Mobning´ (Mobile Phones Against Bullying) where Cyberhus – CfDP – Centre for Digital Youth Care in collaboration with Lommefilm, involves students from sixth to tenth grade by letting them direct little mobile movies against cyber-bullying. Besides raising awareness of good mobile manners among the students, the project shows educators the positive, creative, and educational potentials in digital media – and hopefully help and motivate educators to make more use of digital media in the daily teaching.

The online world is just as real and essential as the offline world, and adults and professionals have to show young people that we take the online universe seriously, and that we are ready to become part of the online universe, if it leads to constructive and inspiring meetings with young people.

 

Positive That We Are Heard

It is positive that the EU Commission has invited a helpline to the collaboration, and it is obvious to look towards Denmark as our children and young people are Europe’s most frequent users of the Internet and mobile phone. In Cyberhus, we have six years of experience with integrating the new media in the socioeducational work with children and young people. So in a way it is natural that we join the big collaboration, and it is positive that the EU Commission will hear our experiences. We hope that the telecommunications industry is willing to share the responsibility for improving the safety of children’s and young people’s use of mobile phones, and we are happy to participate in developing informational materials, campaigns, and projects in collaboration with the mobile phone industry, if it can be part of helping children and young people, and we will continue sharing our knowledge and experiences of marginalised children and young people, and how you can meet them online.

Early Intervention Is Big Budget Investment

In Cyberhus – CfDP – Centre for Digital Youth Care, we are aware that intervening early can save children from a lifetime of deprivation, as well as save society a lot of money. This is now supported by a new Danish report conducted by CASA, Center for Alternativ Samfundsanalyse (Centre for Alternative Social Analysis). The report argues that investing in early intervention is crucial in order for marginalised children and young people to break long term negative behavioural patterns, often inherited from the parents. CASA assesses that the economical potential for public gain is approximately 24 billion Danish kroner annually, if the marginalised children and young people are helped to a life of self-support instead of a life of public assistance.

The Danish report `Investeringer i tidlige sociale indsatser´(Investments in Early Interventions).

Danish Children’s Web Habits

Danish children are among the most frequent web users in the EU, they begin their online life at an early age, and 74 percent of the 9 to 16-year-olds in Denmark have a profile on a social network.

On the other hand, more than every fourth have encountered offensive things on the Internet, almost every third have seen sexual pictures on the web, and more than one in ten have experienced being bullied via the web, as is shown by the new study `Risks and Safety on the Internet: The Perspective of European Children’. The ambitious study of the experiences and habits on the web of the 9 to 16-year-olds is based on interviews with 23,420 children and their parents in 25 EU countries.

 

Among Eu’s Most Frequent Internet Users

The study shows that the Danish children are among EU’s most frequent Internet users. They have a higher degree of personal access to the Internet than other European children, that is to say in their own rooms. 75 percent of the Danish children have private access, which is significantly above the EU average of 48 percent. The Danish average for first-time Internet visits is eight years old, and the tendency is for first-time users to get younger and younger.

One of the most popular activities on the web are the social networks, where 74 percent of the interviewed Danish children have a profile, whereas the European average is only 57 percent.

 

Bad Experiences on the Web

The young people’s digital life can also offer bad experiences. 26 percent of the Danish children say that they have been offended by content on the web, which is well above the European average of 12 percent. 29 percent tell they have seen sexual pictures on the web, a number which is significantly higher than the EU average of 14 percent.

Furthermore, the study shows that cyber-bullying is half as pronounced as general bullying, since 23 percent of Danish children have been bullied altogether and 11 percent have been bullied online.

 

Mouse Click with Common Sense

In spite of the risk factors, Danish young people look favourably on the possibilities of the web. Half of the Danish children have a favourable outlook, which is also the EU average.

CfDP – Centre for Digital Youth Care supports this favourable outlook. In our view, the web is made for nourishing friendships, knowledge, and as a source of cultural inputs. We are aware that imprudent and unreflective behaviour on the web may create problems for the child itself and for those affected by his online actions. But Danish children and young people are not innocent and uncritical victims of digital dangers, although they might lack some skill when it comes to mastering the Internet wisely. Our philosophy is that with a few basic rules young people can ensure that actions on the web remains a continuation and enlargement of the good social life.

You can read and learn more about the study and the project `EU Kids Online’.

Impressive – But So What?

Facebook has recently hit the landmark, 500,000,000 users. There is currently 2 billion internet users worldwide. Every forth is on Facebook. Crazy!

Alongside this landmark, cinemas start showing trailers for the movie `The Social Network’. The movie describes how young Mark Zuckerberg establish what today can be called the greatest internet success – Facebook.com. According to Mark Zuckerberg the movie is pure fabrication – a minor detail according to Hollywood.

In any case, it must be the height of a dot-com company to create so much hype about itself that filmmakers will want to tell the story – unconcerned that it is fictional, of course.

On the web Facebook news is booming. Scientists are queuing up to explain the phenomena. Bloggers have long rants on privacy; settings and control, the news media hires facebook journalists. And now a real blockbuster. It is really exciting and topical, especially for adults.

However, thirteen year-olds do not really find Facebook as brand or commodity interesting. The interest is not for the tool but instead what the tool can be used for in relation to friends and identity.

The Cyberskole often uses facts on Facebook in the debate on web ethics, such as `Facebook users upload more than 1 billion pictures every month’. And often the Cyberskole coordinator, Joans Ravn, feels as if the young people think `impressive, and so what?` This is probably a clear picture of the huge difference between digital natives and digital newcomers. The young people let us analyse and debate. Fair enough. But I want to draw attention to this bit of research anyway.

`Some adults’ have recently analysed that young people have become far more aware about privacy settings and control over the last year. The analysis shows that during the last year we have seen a marked increase in the number of young people adjusting their privacy settings. From 90 out of 100 to the current 98 out of 100!

This migth mean that some of the Cyberskole’s debate on awareness can be changed from a technical focus on safety to a more existential focus on the way we interact on the web. And especially on the way we interact via social networks.

A Code of Conduct for Social Network Services in Denmark

An association of various actors in online social network services recently published a common code of conduct about the users’ private information. The National IT and Telecom Agency is behind the initiative.

The code of conduct consists of ten general recommendations. Websites such as Arto and GoSupermodel have taken part in the preparation of the code of conduct. Basically it is positive to have a Danish code of conduct.

It is progressive that we now have a common frame of reference for the current and future online social networks. The code of conduct should be read as an optional set of rules – a sort of approval to brag about if you choose to live up to the recommendations.

In times such as these, where there is Facebook – and then all the others, it is obviously not a bulletproof way to ensure children and young people’s privacy online.

It is no secret that is is extremely difficult to enforce guidelines across national borders, and it has proven especially difficult to get Facebook to consider user privacy something to care about. Over the last years, we have seen how Facebook slowly but surely has reduced and watered down the main settings for user privacy. Based on Facebook’s business model it is perfectly understandable. Ethically, not so much.

However, it is still sympathetic that we now have a well worked-out code of conduct at national level. Science Minister Charlotte Sahl-Madsen points out that the code of conduct can be an excellent starting point, when we start discussing privacy protection on online social network services within the framework of EU in the coming months.

Youth Culture on Facebook

After several years of teaching web and mobile culture to pupils, there is a certain frustration in Cyberhus. Are we spot on with our educational materials? As adults, do we even understand what goes on inside the young people’s heads, when they make use of social networks?

As part of the educational project, `DuBestemmerSelv’ (You Decide), the Danish Ministry of Education has been so thoughtful as to give Cyberhus – CfDP – Centre for Digital Youth Care funding to expand `DuBestemmerSelv’ with a Facebook platform for the young people as well as mapping materials that can be used by anyone wanting to learn more about young people’s movements on social networks – and especially on Facebook-

It has resulted in a very visual and well-planned magazine with various approaches: Who are the young people online? What cases can you relate your work to? And how do you go about using Facebook, when working with the young target group?

The material is a massive effort of concrete considerations. It is intended for anyone wanting to learn more about the young Facebook users, and also to anyone considering launching communication for young people on social networks.

The inspiration for the magazine comes from a mapping of young people’s online habits, which the digital consultancy Seismonaut has carried out for Cyberhus – CfDP – Centre for Digital Youth Care. This knowledge we wanted to combine with our experiences from the work of creating a good and proper dialogue, participation, and involvement with young people on social media, and it became a magazine.

You can see the Danish magazine here.

Asking for a date

Boy, 17. 18 March 2016

Question:

Hi all,

I have kind of a crush on one of my best friends but I don’t know how to tell her or ask if she has any feelings for me!

– I’d like to invite her on a “date” – like, indirectly saying that I’d want to be more than friends. -How do I tell her? – Do you have any good advice?

Lots of people have said that I should just tell her how I feel! – But I can’t!!!!

I really hope you can help me.

Thanks in advance.

Answer:

Hi there,

I fully understand that you’re nervous about telling your friend how you feel. It can be really difficult, particularly if you’re not sure whether it’s reciprocated. But I do hope that I can give you some advice that may help you invite your friend on a date 🙂

Personally, I don’t necessarily think that it’s a good move to lay out all the cards on the table at once, if she doesn’t at all expect it. However, I would say there are other subtler ways to proceed that may, more slowly but surely, give you a better idea of where she stands.

Typically, if a girl is friends with a guy, it’s difficult for her to see him as more than that, if he doesn’t manage to show her that he also has ‘qualifications’ to become a potential boyfriend. Something you could do is notice how other guys act around their girlfriends. You can tell right away (at social gatherings) whether two people are more than just friends – even though they may not tell the rest of the group. They flirt, joke around, keep longer eye contact with each other, sit and stand closer to each other and so on. Comparing this to a relationship with a friend, the behaviour is different – not that much flirting, and not more than normal eye- and body contact.

Then, try to compare it to your behaviour around your friend. It’s about starting to imitate some of the things that couples usually do, and slowly introduce them in your relationship with your friend. You can do this by, e.g., joking and flirting a bit more, touching her shoulder or her knee when laughing at her jokes – body contact in general is an important hint. Perhaps, stand a little closer to her when you’re out with friends, or look over at her if you see her from a distance, talking to others, and give her a smile when you have eye contact (which you’ve been admiring for a while).

Along the way, if she starts to change behaviour around you, and gives back, she very likely could be interested in you.

You probably cannot completely avoid disclosing your emotions eventually, be it a kiss or a confession. It may also take a while to change your role from being a friend to a potential boyfriend, and that’s also perfectly okay. There’s also no guarantee that this works for you – but I’d say that when you do tell her how you feel, she’d be expecting it. Besides, you’d likely feel safer as you’d have a better idea about how she feels about you 🙂

I wish you all the best of luck, and I hope the result will be a successful date!

My best,
Joni

Crush

Girl, 16. 4 March 2015

Question:

Hi :))
A week ago, me and this sweet guy started writing, he’s about 1½ years older than me. The crazy thing is, he’s my brother’s best friend’s younger brother, so I can’t really figure out if it’s too weird? He’s just so cute, and I think about him all the time…

He’s started calling me sweetie and he’s sending me kissing smileys, we often talk about how we could meet, e.g. listening to him playing music or watching a movie together. I really would like that a lot but the problem is, I don’t know if I can! At school I often get shy when I talk to boys, well not shy as such, I just don’t always know what to say, and then I feel kind of awkward, even though I really try to tell myself that I’m not..

So, if I’m going to spend time with him, I’m afraid that I’ll feel totally awkward, or not having anything to say, or not knowing what to do with myself. I’ve never been home alone with a boy before, so I don’t know what to do!? In a way, it would be such a shame if I didn’t meet him for the reason that I’m afraid, because we get along so well when we “talk”/write! It’s been so long since I’ve felt chemistry like this with a guy, but also it’s different when you write…

Another thing, if we did hook up, would it be too weird haha? My brother and his best friend are moving in together so let’s say it doesn’t work out, then I wouldn’t be able to really distance myself since I would probably meet his brother there at times.. haha..

What do you think?

Hugs from me 🙂

Answer:

Hi there,
It’s great that you’re communicating with a guy who is really nice. In addition, I’d like to commend you for your consideration trying to assess how “wrong” the situation may end up since you are interested in your brother’s best friend’s younger brother.

I understand your concerns but I certainly do not think that should hold you back because what if you indeed hit it off, and you may share more than a sweet SMS flirt? Of course, you should only meet with him if you want to. You may want to consider whether it’s worth the risk or whether you believe there are too many bad things about the situation.

Try to consider, what is the worst thing that can happen? You could slowly try getting to know each other as friends, and then see if your relationship develops from there. If the two of you decide not to see each other anymore, you might end up becoming good friends, and at least you will not ponder whether or not there was something there. You write that it would be a shame if you did not meet up with him due to the fact that you’re afraid. And you also feel a good chemistry with him. Because of this, I almost believe you would regret stopping your flirt here and now and leaving it as a text flirt. As you mention, texting, and talking in real life, is not the same thing. However, considering how well you get along when you text, I believe there’s a good chance that you may have chemistry in real life too.

I understand very well that you are nervous about meeting him in real life, and you mention you easily get shy at school and feel awkward. It is COMPLETELY normal to feel this way, a lot of people do. Although it may be hard to believe, it may help you to consider that others do not always realise how shy or awkward someone else feels. It often feels worse than what is perceived by others – maybe he’ll even find it kind of sweet that you are a bit shy. Many people your age have not spent time alone with a guy before, so it’s completely understandable that you’re nervous about the situation. My best advice would be that you be yourself and ask questions to let him know you are interested, and then just going with the flow.

If you are yourself, it’s easier for you, and it’s also the best way for a guy to get to know you. If you would like to be a little prepared, so you feel less nervous, you may want to think about some some topics beforehand that you may want to bring up, and then you can always ask about his interests and what he enjoys doing in his spare time. Knowing some of the same people could also be something for you to talk about.

I hope you can use my reply, and good luck!

Best regards,
Maria

I don’t feel good enough

Girl, 13. 15 November 2014

Question:

Hi Cyberhus!
These days I feel so down! I feel like I’m not good enough, and I spend all my time thinking that I’d like to be someone else in order to add up. I just think everybody else’s life is much cooler than mine. I really feel at an all-time low right now…

Hope you can help.

Answer:

Hi there!
I can understand it must be difficult constantly feeling less-than than everybody else. I think you’d be surprised by the number of young people who feel like that at times. It’s perfectly normal that you sometimes get the feeling that others have more fun, are doing better, and are more in control of things than yourself. However, you shouldn’t be feeling like that all the time. I think it’s really cool that you’ve written us and are telling us about your thoughts and feelings. This takes courage and it goes to show that you’re a really strong girl. So I have no doubts that you can, and will, feel better!

As mentioned, I believe a lot of people recognise the emotion of not feeling good enough, but you shouldn’t feel like that all the time. It’s really tough constantly feeling less worthy and less-than, and I completely understand that it brings you down. I can’t tell by your letter whether you have some good friends that you could talk to, or whether you could talk to your parents? In any case, I believe it would be a really good idea that you talk to someone about your thoughts and how you’re feeling. Thoughts and emotions are apt to grow infinitely great if you carry them by yourself, and I think you’d find relief in articulating yourself in words by talking about it. I know it doesn’t solve your problem but maybe they can offer you some good advice, and at least, listen to you.

In relation to what you’re writing about wanting to be somebody else in order to feel good enough, I believe it may sometimes seem as though others are doing totally great; they don’t have any problems or worries in life. Often, this is not the case at all. Some are just very good at pretending. I understand it’s difficult to believe that, especially when you’re having a hard time yourself and just want everything to be better, but I still think that if you remember everybody’s got issues with which they struggle, however big or small, it may help you. Not that you’re supposed to be happy that others, too, struggle with something, but it may provide you with a picture that it doesn’t necessarily get better if you could just become someone else.

Having said that, I completely follow your way of thinking. Being a different person, someone without problems and someone who is exactly how you’d like to be, can be a nice thought. But you are who you are, and that’s a good thing! You’ve got a lot of years to figure out who you are, including your strengths and weaknesses, and it takes time. But it’s worth it. When you realise who you are and how you respond to different situations and so on, I believe you will find it easier to exist because you will gain more confidence and become better at accepting yourself as you are. I know it’s a lot easier said than done, but I do hope you will think about it and consider giving it a chance.

If you need to talk to someone, and don’t feel like talking to someone face-to-face, you are always welcome in our chat at cyberhus. Here, you can speak to someone about how you feel, completely anonymously, with an adult counsellor.

Lastly, I’d like to remind you that all people are different! It doesn’t mean that someone is better than someone else. We all got our strengths and weaknesses and you can’t be good at everything. But you are definitely good enough!

I wish you all the best!

Best regards,
Astrid

Controlling my emotions

Girl, 14. 13 April 2016

Question:

Hey,

I’m actually a very calm person, and I don’t get agitated in school or other places. But at home, I’ve started to get really angry with my mom. When I get frustrated about something, I often get angry and take it out on my mom.

How can I deal with my anger? And counting to 10 doesn’t help.

Answer:

Dear you,

Thank you for your letter. I understand that you find it hard to control your anger when you’re at home, and then your mom takes the blow. It sounds as though it takes up a lot of your energy, and I’m glad that you’ve written.

First and foremost, I think you should know that it’s perfectly normal to experience emotions of anger in your age. You’re in your puberty, and your body is full of hormones. Hormones help your body develop, but at the same time, you’ll react differently than what you’re used to. You write that normally you’re quite calm, but now you’ve started to get frustrated at home. Partly, this can be explained by hormones floating through your body and affecting your mood, and partly you’re a certain age where you automatically start “rebelling” against your parents.

It may sound scary, but you should know that it is a normal part of your development in puberty. You are beginning to find out who you are as a person, independently from your mom. This also means that you’ll probably experience that your mom doesn’t understand you or your emotions, and there are things she will do or say that may irritate you or make you angry – this means that she’s done a good job prompting you into youth. Of course, it may still be uncomfortable for you and your mom, and luckily there are things you can do to help you react differently to your anger, even though the anger is not removed. You can’t control your emotions, but you can control how you react to your emotions.

You write that counting to 10 doesn’t help, and it rarely does. Sometimes though, it’s a good idea to count to 10 before reacting because then you may not react as fiercely as you would otherwise, but it’s not always enough to take away the anger. It’s a good idea to breathe deeply while counting, and then count sloooow. Even if you’re losing patience, then make yourself continue. Counting to 10 shouldn’t feel like counting 10 seconds, but it should almost feel like counting to 10 minutes.

You can leave the situation. When you get really angry with your mom, and you’re about to yell at her, then choose to leave. Go to your room or somewhere else where you can be alone. In order for your mom not to worry or follow you, perhaps it’s a good idea to let her know about this strategy. Choose a day where you’re in a good mood, and then sit down with your mom and tell her that you’d like to react differently when you get angry, but that it’s really difficult – so, you’re planning to leave the room when you get angry, and then return when you are more calm. Make your mom realise that she shouldn’t go get you or worry, and that you’ll make a decision to return when you’re more relaxed. Then, when you’re by yourself, try count to 10, and perhaps think about what made you so angry. The more aware you are about what has made you angry, the easier it is to control how you act when you get angry.

Share your anger. Sometimes, it helps to articulate your feelings. Next time you get really angry, then say out loud: “right now, I’m really angry about…. and I react by yelling real loud (if you do), or slamming doors (if you do).” It may help make the situation less tense, and maybe almost funny. It will probably feel quite strange the first couple of times, and then you may even start laughing – but then you’re not as angry anymore.

Unfortunately, it’s not possible for us humans to control our emotions. Our emotions will always be there – kind of like a radio that can never be turned off. However, we can control our actions, and then you get to decide when to turn up the volume on the radio, or how you’d like to turn it down.

I hope you can use my reply!

Love
Signe

Should I tell him!?

Girl 12. 5 April 2017

Question:

Hi

I’m in love with a boy.

My friend came over and told me that Nicolai (the guy I like) liked her because he told her so. I think it’s a bit weird or confrontational just telling someone “I’m in love with you”. Since I’m not the girlfriend type. I then tell my friend that I like him, then she wrote him that she didn’t want them to be boy-and girlfriends because she had a friend who liked him. He asked who it was but I didn’t want him to know because I knew he liked someone else. My friend had asked him how he felt about me and then he said I was “sweet, hot and nice.” I’m really happy to hear that and still, I know he likes her. Then a couple of days later I asked my friend if she and nicolai would go out if I didn’t like him and then she said “Yea, I guess so.” Then I felt kinda bad because in a way I “ruin” their relationship. (It must be said that she’s sort of a player and snogs with A LOT of people) so she’d probably also let him down. She thinks that I should tell him, and he also writes to her that he thinks the person should tell him. I’m just thinking that it doesn’t matter anyway since he likes her. What should I do?

Answer:

Hi there,
I understand that you’ve fallen in love with this boy, Nicolai. It can be super nice to be in love and I think you should enjoy that and perhaps take the next step and let him know how you feel.

It sounds like the biggest problem with your falling in love is the fact that you’re afraid that he’s crazy about your friend. I completely understand that this must be difficult. But remember, your friend turned him down so don’t be nervous that something should happen between them if you and Nicolai should decide to be more than friends. Besides, being in love may assume many different forms. It could be something that lasts for several years, and you can’t go a day without thinking of this person. But it could also be something temporary, and in some cases, something that lasts only for a few days. At your age, it is completely normal to have several crushes and even being in love with more than 1 classmate. It may be such a crush Nicolai has had with your friend. So, there’s nothing wrong with you starting to hang out with him more because then he would definitely not think about your friend anymore, rather, he’d only think of you. Sometimes, you could fall in love with someone you don’t actually see as an opportunity to be in a relationship with, and therefore, not really noticing this person to begin with. You write that you’re not the girlfriend-type, and that he may not have thought of you as such because he’s sensing that you don’t really want to be in a relationship with anyone. Then, what you could do is making him aware of you and making him aware that you could be a type he could go out with. I do understand that you feel it’s scary to tell him that you’re in love with him, so I will try and give you some advice as to what you could do.

One thing you may try is write to him. Then you could write some remarks in your messages that could give him an idea that you like him. For example, you could write something like “hi handsome” or just making sure to engage in a conversation where you could ask about his day and so on. If you feel like it, you could also ask him whether the two of you should get together one day after school and do something. Already, you know that he’s written to your friend that you’re sweet, hot and nice, so if you feel like it, you could ask him about that and let him know what your friend told you. It sounds like your friend is really considerate about not making you sad if she went out with him. So, it doesn’t sound like she would mind that you told him that you know what he wrote to your friend. Likely, he wouldn’t be surprised that his words were passed on, so perhaps he would actually like you to know that he likes you. Also, I don’t think you should feel guilty when it comes to your friend. It doesn’t seem like she’s been that crazy about him because then she would have told you, and she’d probably not have asked him how he felt about you. However, I do believe it would be a good idea that she still knows how you feel about him and whether you write or talk to him more, so that she won’t feel left out. It’s also really nice to have someone to talk, and someone who can give some pieces of advice on how you may reply to him or how the two of you could spend time together.

I hope you can use my reply, and I wish you the best of luck.

My best regards,

Signe M.

Desire & sexuality

Computer games as a pedagogical tool – a municipal project.

Together with the local municipal youth center, Center for Digital Youthcare is in charge of a social group activity, aimed a young gamers. The young meet twice weekly, in order to game together, as well as to talk about life’s’ ups and downs. The computer games are a social and pedagogical tool, which the associated youth workers use to meet the young people at eye level in their everyday lives. In the fall – using funds guaranteed by the Ministry of Health’s “Fund for combatting gambling addiction” – the project will be expanded to include a further five Danish municipalities.

The gaming program has been running since 2015. Since its humble beginnings, starting with only three young people and a single Playstation, it has been growing steadily. Prior to this year’s summer vacation, 40 young people wanted to become part of the program. Most of them want to meet their own, their family’s ( a contact from the municipal authorities, or a caseworker’s) goals concerning personal development; often defined as a better social life and an increased interest in school- and -family life. Not only have we been seeing an increase when it comes to the happiness and the young people’s  capacity regarding social interactions, but there is also a significant decrease in negative behaviour, like gambling (skin betting and gambling on e-sports) and externalising behaviour. On this basis the Ministry of Health has supported the project with additional funds, allowing for the project to be expanded to five partnering municipalities, during the coming year. This includes paying for manpower, introduction-events ect. in the partnering municipalities.

Smoke grenades are important

Within the blue walls, decorated with gaming-logos and drawings, which the Aarhus Municipality have made available, a group of young people, who have some kind of challenge in their everyday lives, and a love of games and game universes as their only common denominators, meet three times a week. Some of them are there because they have an ADHD, autism, or anxiety -diagnosis, which is getting a bit out of hand. Others are there because they have been socially isolated from their peers for a bit too long, and thus need to train their social skills a bit. The only thing which we all have in common, is that we have an interest in computer games  – and that is the common ground, where we meet each other.

The aspiring class, the young who are new to the project, meet on Mondays. The elite class meet every Wednesday, starting with the gaming sessions,  and then later, they have dinner together. On Thursday the doors are open to anyone who wants to come – which, quite often, means almost everyone. For those who are new to the group – the aspirants – the time spent with the program is divided equally between classes about gaming, and group exercises on one hand, and the games themselves on the other. In the beginning, the parents of the aspirants are also part of the program, receiving separate classes. Furthermore, the parents are given the opportunity to meet with other parents and discuss some of the things which may give cause for concern, or excitement, when you have a child who is a gamer.

For the young and their parents alike, the classes deal with topics such as:

  • Can you become addicted to computer games?
  • Will playing games cause you to become violent? Why the age restrictions?
  • What can the skills and experiences gained will gaming be used for?
  • How to best have a conversation in the digital space.

The classes are not tied to any kind of national test or a certain curriculum. Instead, the starting point is to meet the young at eye level, as they are engaged in their hobby, and try to develop qualified opinions about said hobby. Furthermore the young get training in how to behave during clases, as during the preliminary talks, many of them express a wish, wanting to get better at keeping up with their school work.

In some cases, the classes are taught by young people, who have been part of the program for a good while longer the the aspirants. For some, having to make a presentation in front of peers, can be quite a fear-inducing experience, but when the subject matter is something like “smoke grenades on Mirage and Inferno”, instead of something like anatomy, or the blissful insights relating to fractions, that sometimes makes it a bit easier – and it can be an invaluable training experience.

The Hopeless adults and the capable young

When the young are enrolled in the program, they have a kickoff-conversation with two of the programs youth workers. Here the young talk about what they think they are good at, as well as what they would like to get better at. The picture which the young thus paint of themselves, together with comments from the parents or the contact, is used to form the project groups basis for measuring weather or not  the young person succeeds in the course of the program. According to both the young themselves, and the observations made by the adults around them, by far most of the young people experience significant progress regarding school, as well as family relations and relations with friends, within the first months.

As professionals, it is easy for to hold the young accountable to kvantitative ordinances and measurable parameters, such as, their level of school attendance, how often they have done something with friends, how often they have engaged in skinbetting ect.. With all that said, our main motivation for expanding the project to an additional five municipalities, was the fact that we can see, that the young people experience personal growth, and at a basic level, they simply  become happier than they were before. However, it is not the games as such that are making the young happier than they were before; It is the focus, the atmosphere, and the setting of the project.

We build a space, where the games only have value insofar as we play them together – and have a good time doing so. Of course, weather  we win or loose does matter, and naturally 1st place is also the most fun place to to be standing. Gaming is a competitive sport, but the main thing, is that we try to win – together. The program allows us to play all kinds of genres and titles; Counter-Strike, League of Legends, FIFA and Fortnite have been at the top of our list of activities for a long time.  When it comes to playing the young people’s favourite games, the game in question only has to meet the following simple criteria: It has to have multiplayer, and it has to be a game which others want to play as well. This means that as adults, we have to be good at not hindering the experiences that the young are having, when playing their favorite games, and even though that approach has lead to a lot of late night sessions, it has also had the effect of allowing us to enter their digital and social arena, and to to so, on an (almost) equal footing. Allowing the young to teach the grownups how the games are played, is also a pedagogical exercise – even if it does require that one is not “totally” hopeless to begin with.

Skills transferable to the manual world

It is such a great thing to see; when we put the young in a room and tell them that EVERYONE in here is a nerd – even if nerds come in many different varieties, Dungeons & Dragons, Diablo, and League of Legends still have something in common – then the young succeed. To many of them, the nerd culture becomes a sanctuary in a world, which due to anxiety, bullying, parents, or whatever else, can suddenly become very hard to handle, unlike the nerd world, which, by contrast, they become very skilled at handling. Instead of telling the young that the skills and experiences which they have gained from playing digital games – as well as from being part of the gaming culture – don’t have any value, we can make them feel ten feet tall, when we share the genuine excitement that they feel after having won a chicken dinner the previous night. And even more importantly; we can motivate them to participate in the program. Some of the young in the programm are so afflicted by anxiety or social apathy, that they have not been outside their own home for long periods of time, but because they are SO motivated to be part of the gaming program, they may learn to set their alarm clock again, dare to take the bus, or dare to make new friends, because “Everyone in here is a nerd like me anyway”.

On the surface, the gaming programm is “just” about hanging out with the young, while playing a bit of Counter-Strike or Gangbeasts ….but underneath all that, countless pedagogical, psychological and social considerations are involved, and this is where Centre for Digital Youth Care’s (CfDP) expert knowledge gets to be part of the mix, which also consists of the know-how  and practical experience, which employees of the Aarhus Municipality brings to the table. Currently, we are in the process of putting together a manual, containing all the approaches, experiences, and exercises which make up the everyday life of the programm. When the manual is finished, the program will be ready to expand to the five partnering municipalities, which are currently being selected, and partnership agreements are being drawn up.

Taking our experiences, gained from our work with and within the Aarhus Municipality, and applying them to other municipalities is going to make this fall an exciting time for us. I have no doubt that part of the reason why the program has had some success in Aarhus, is because we have been lucky enough to have some of the most impressive and hardworking young people ever, but even so, there are commonalities, transferable knowledge, and practical experience, which we can use when starting similar programs with other groups. Funds from the Ministry of Health have made it possible for CfDP to cover (some of) the payroll cost, the introductory events and courses, which are a necessary prerequisite before new additional municipalities will be able to run a program of their own. What this means, is that we are passed the first big hurdle, which one needs to overcome when implementing these kinds of program at a municipal level, namely the question “Who’s paying?”, cause we have an answer; “we are”.

The gaming project is run by some amazingly competent people at CfDP and the Aarhus Municipality, and as time has passed, the project has passed many a litmus test, which is why we are going to take our practical knowledge, along with the new manual, and apply it to the rest of Denmark. We have witnessed the big difference that it has made in the lives of many young people in Aarhus, and we are super excited to be able to help five other ambitious municipalities start their own programs.

This article was originally written (in danish) by Christian Mogensen for CfDP, and subsequently translated and edited by Michael Sørensen

Digital youth work – a Finnish perspective

Verke’s first publication in English, titled ”Digital youth work – a Finnish perspective”, presents 32 diverse viewpoints into digital youth work. Some of the articles contained in this book have been published previously in Finnish while some have been specifically written for this publication.

Like in all Verke’s materials they strive to bring to light both the how and the why of digital youth work and hope that this book will make future co-operation with Finnish youth work actors even easier.

You can download the pdf or order a printed copy for free on Verke’s website.

More than 1,000 Danish young people are indicted for sharing child pornography

A good thousand people can expect an indictment for distributing child pornography. That is, they have shared sexually offensive material of people below the age of 18, using Facebook and Messenger. The video and pictures are from 2015, and have been shared among young people all over the country but primarily, in Copenhagen and the surrounding area. The material consists of pornographic content with a girl and a boy who, at the time of taping, both were below the age of 15. This may be a violation of section 235 of the Danish Penal code – distribution of child pornography. (from the Danish police press statement)

Big case with far-reaching consequences

With this case, the police has initiated the greatest effort in Danish history concerning sharing offensive content without consent. The police is indicting the young people involved according to the Danish section on sharing child pornography because the shared video clearly shows genitals and sexual activity with one or more people below the age of 18. And so, it would be interesting to find out what the young people’s intention of sharing the video has been. Likely, very few have actually wanted to share child pornography. However, it is important to remember that the consequences with the victim stay the same regardless of the intent of the violator. The police has issued a Q&A concerning this case, which says:

Q: This wouldn’t be an issue of child pornography in these cases – young people regard each other as peers. Isn’t it unfair they’d get a spot on their criminal record disclosure which does not match reality?

A: That is one reason we act so progressively. And because these pictures can quickly land in the hands of someone who’s got completely different motives. Law is law, and it denotes the material of people below the age of 18 as child pornography, and this is also reflected in the penalty. So, it’s important that young people realise it’s a serious violation which harms the people involved as well as themselves.

What we do at CfDP

At CfDP, we are optimistic that the police is choosing to run this case. We collaborate with The Police’s National Cyber Crime Centre and a wide range of child care organisations on a broad communicative effort. Although the case is severe and will be of great importance to both victims and violators, it is important that we use this event to grow wiser. We owe the young people who are not aware of the legal and moral consequences of this type of sharing to become better equipped. For several years, we have stated that too few young people know and understand the consequences of sharing offensive material.

At Centre for Digital Youth Care, we naturally use our different counselling platforms – Cyberhus and MitAssist – and our lecture/talk serices for information, debate, and conversation. You are more than welcome to contact us, should you be interested in information or teaching.

What you can do

It is completely understandable if you have questions for this specific case. It is also understandable if you would like to know what you can do if you, or your child or pupil, are involved in this case or similar cases. Please read the police’s own questions and answers which you can find HERE.

Generally, the police refers to the Criminal Prevention Council’s sites for information on consequences and law.

For young people and parents: http://dkr.dk/it/deling-af-billeder/
For professionals (teachers): http://dkr.dk/it/ulovlig-billeddeling/

The image below is an overview of the police’s recommendations and information.

Jonas Ravn / jonas@cfdp.dk / 22302091

Advice and recommendations from the Danish Criminal Prevention Council

Accreditation: from a healthy skepticism to a positive experience

The advantages outweigh the disadvantages
Over the years there has been a debate about the pros and cons of accreditation in both health and educational field, and now the turn has come to the social counselings. RådgivningsDanmark has developed an accreditation system that contains both a quality model and an accreditation process. The model contains five points (academic access, competencies, performance and target audience, values, ethics and legislation as well as management and involvement) that underpin the quality standard of social counseling (read more about the system here).

Accreditation has given Niels-Christian Bilenberg a lot to think about: “My first thought was probably what is it and why should we do it? And I believe there are many people out there who feel the same way.” Niels-Christian explains that the sincere desire to make a difference goes against quality assurance. That’s the reason behind his own skepticism. It is contrary to the heart of a social worker. However, as a recently graduated counseling auditor (auditor with professional experience from a counseling office), he now sees accreditation process in a completely different light. It has given him a personal and professional boost, as well as inspiration from other counseling organizations, that he can contribute with at Center for Digital Youth Care.

What is a Counseling Auditor? (auditor with professional experience from a counseling office)
The counseling field works with a large number of factors which can make it difficult to measure a counseling offer.
For example:
• The effect and quality of the individual situation will be a subjective assessment of counselors, consulters, management, collaborators and others.

• Working with a vulnerable and sometimes completely anonymous user group, where you cannot ask the youth about their experience with the counseling they have received.

• There may be special challenges in terms of recruitment and continuous replacement of counselors for those who work with volunteer counselors.

In order to ensure an accreditation process that takes these factors into account, RådgivningsDanmark has chosen to always include an auditor with experience from the consulting industry. In addition, it must be an auditor who is still active in the field. The main task of a counseling auditor is to act as a link between the measurable requirements of the accreditation system and the way in which each counseling works, as well as understanding and describing themselves.


Accreditation – What’s in it for me?

As an organization, one gets the opportunity to have their practice looked carefully through, according to the previously described factors (the five points) agreed on by the industry association, describing good quality in the counseling field. As it is a special accreditation model developed by and to RådgivningsDanmark’s member organizations, quality assurance is guaranteed for the practices.

Accreditation is a quality stamp, but the internal process of accreditation may even have a higher value: “I’ve done accreditation at another organization and it was a really positive experience! They had a good process where they talked the whole organization over, both structure, goals, workflows and volunteer management. The internal process will clearly increase the quality of their work” says Niels-Christian. According to him, the best thing about the accreditation system is room for differences, so the organizations are assessed on the basis of the same criteria, although there are very big differences between the member organizations and the way they work.

CfDP is currently not accredited: “We will definitely do it in the future. We are currently awaiting clarification on whether CfDP should be accredited as the main organization or it’s the individual counseling services, such as Cyberhus, Netstof and MitAssist, under CfDP, that should get accredited individually” concludes Niels-Christian.

CfDP receives grant of 2 million DKK

New preventive counseling draws on positive experiences
We are looking forward to initiate the project, which we believe can make a difference for a big number of vulnerable adolescents. The overall aim is to develop a free of charge, nationwide counseling service offering open and anonymous counseling sessions in group chats with permanent volunteer counselors. At the same time, the project ensures the transition between digital programs and public consultation. The special feature of the new counseling offer is the transfer of CfDP’s positive experiences with open digital group chat, focusing on digitizing methodology from physical group consultations, focus on permanent counselors, as well as individual selection of anonymous young group participants. A digital bridge building model is developed between voluntary social work and the municipalities’ professional treatment facilities.

The project covers needs in the counseling landscape
Thousands of adolescents contacts the Danish digital counselings annually because they can get advice while maintaining a high level of anonymity. Over the years, the digital counseling services have developed a more refined network of communication methods and media that can accommodate different needs of the target audience, but there are still a number of gaps in the relatively young digital counseling field. CfDP’s project seeks to fill more of these gaps with the new counseling form, which is more relationship-oriented and less volatile than existing anonymous offers. There is a great potential for more online group counseling. Over the past two years, on our existing counseling platforms (Cyberhus, Netstof and Mitassist) there has been an increase in the demand for and use of group chat, as the adolescents in this communication medium can reflect more actively in their peers than in those otherwise widespread 1-1 chats with adult counselors, which is the dominant digital counseling form in Denmark. Group chat allows more adolescents to participate in the counseling, allows them to form meaningful communities, and gives them a broader perspective on their own situation. However, the challenge of existing group chats may be that they are open and therefore also relatively hectic and sometimes unfocused. For this reason, CfDP sees thematic limited and group-defined chat sessions as a significant shortcoming in the Danish counseling services.

We are very pleased with the grant and the options it ensures. Especially the chance to develop and custom make the counselor services to the vulnerable target group and thereby contribute to a positive development in their lives.

We wish everyone a great summer!

New book about young people’s digital education

Children and youth co-create online culture

Jonas Ravn of CfDP is one of the book’s seven contributors (the other six contributors include: Søren Hebsgaard, Johannes Andersen, Camilla Mehlsen, Anne Mette Thorhauge, Louise Ørum Skytt, Linda Sendrup and Christine Lehn-Schiøler).

Jonas Ravn explores, with his section, digital education through a perspective of well-being. For example, how might children and young people build an ethical filter and put it to use when interacting on the internet? How do they acquire digital skills such as understanding the influence of social media, and how do they learn to act on such understanding? It is also highlighted how children and young people should learn to become aware of their role as co-creators of culture on social media, and that their internet behaviour might be either positive (supportive) or negative (bullying).

General information about the anthology

“Children and young people seek identity, recognition, friendships, and community during their childhood. That’s nothing new. The new thing is the fact that the conditions have changed fundamentally with the internet and social media.”

This is how Lisbeth Brunebjerg Holmegaard and Claus Hjort of the Media Council explain the need for more focus on digital education among children and young people. It is necessary that they gain a sufficient understanding of digital technologies so that they grow into adulthood to become responsible, critical citizens of society. So, the seven authors of the anthology each submit their different perspectives on young people’s digital lives. However, they all agree that it is a task for both parents and professionals to intervene early in young people’s lives and help them by guiding and supporting them in the process of digital education. The role of the adult as well as inspiration for the practical work at hand are described in the book which is available here (Danish publication).

Netstof launches new effort for upper secondary education

New magazine for all upper secondary education

In the fall, Netstof will launch a magazine for teachers and student counsellors across the country’s upper secondary education. The magazine will support the new teaching material and show how teachers may use Netstof for different types of teaching and for informing young people. The Danish Health Authority has helped fund the project, and so, all upper secondary education will receive a physical copy of the magazine along with references for the digital teaching material. The teaching material will become an integral part of Netstof, available for use online as well as in print.

Finn Halkjær – New relatives-counsellor on Netstof.dk

Last week, Netstof welcomed Finn Halkjær as a new relatives-counsellor. Finn is working as a treatment provider with U-turn counselling and parent-groups at the municipal of Copenhagen. He has a background as a psychiatric nurse and has worked in the field of youth psychiatry for many years.

For the last ten years, Finn has done consultative conversations with particularly parent-groups in addition to leading parent-groups with U-turn. He will be part of the team which services problem pages for relatives, along with Lone Walsøe and Flemming Licht. Read more about Netstof’s anonymous counselling, and watch video-interviews for and with parents on Netstof’s page for relatives (in Danish).

Netstof.dk is a serious and professional alternative to Psychedelia.dk

The latest copy of STOF (Danish publication on drug abuse, ed.) presents an article about Netstof. This article shows, among other things, an overview of visitor numbers and visitor behaviour among young people on netstof.dk. It’s interesting to notice that Netstof appears before Psychedelia.dk on Google’s search engine when young people search for “drugs.” This is of great importance, and Netstof can thank its subscribers. As of last year, several new subscribers have been added and the number now includes 32 municipal members. The most recent members include Copenhagen, Glostrup, Syddjurs and Køge. See an overview of all municipal members.

See the STOF article, pp. 86-87 (in Danish).

Suicide works!

By Christian Mogensen, speaker & project manager, CfDP

Spoiler alert: This article contains descriptions of the end of the series, so if you would like to watch the series, reconsider whether or not to read this article.

Problems and solutions

Before the drama unfolds, the series is introduced against the backdrop of an acoustic guitar and an introduction of the narrator – Hannah – who is dead. Shifting from the recited posthumous suicide note to real-time, two young girls are standing next to the deceased Hannah’s classical high-school locker, talking about how beautiful she is in the pictures before they snap a selfie, capturing the biggest portrait on the locker.

13 Reasons Why shows teenage life with all its digital detours.

13 Reasons Why is overflowing with references and caricatures of teenage life, some more precise than others. Most importantly, the series sets the perspective at eye level with the teenage protagonists and takes very seriously their broken hearts, the raging rumours, their staggering identity, and their starting sexuality. Hannah Baker’s suicide is readily a reaction to easily recognisable teenage challenges which most viewers of the same age group would resonance with, and for this reason, we as professionals must pursue the question of whether the “hero”, in light of the series’ reaction to ordinary problems, is made to be ordinary – or glorified?

Also, read our interview with C – a young girl who has previously suffered from cutting, self-harm, and suicide-attempts – where we talk about the series’ representation of difficult subjects: I do understand Hannah

During the journey of the series’ 13 episodes, we get to know Hannah and her motives on an intimate and honest level. All the heavier is the emotional punch to the stomach when we see one of the most graphic and violent scenes ever during the final episode. Important – We must warn that the description of the ending of the series below may seem very violent but we describe it here in order to emphasise why it’s important for professionals and parents to talk to young people about the series:

Hannah finds herself in the family bathroom. She turns on the water in the bath tub. She makes a little insecure nod to herself in the mirror above the bathroom sink before she steps into the bath tub. Her clothes get wet and she starts to cry. With her right hand, she opens the artery on her left arm. We see her skin being depressed before it releases itself to the razor blade with blood trickling down. First a little bit, then a lot. Next, she does the same thing to her right arm. She twists because it hurts but she continues. As the water turns red, she loses consciousness. Her mother finds her, screams, clasps her to her while she screams for God, Hanna’s father, and Hannah herself.

Bullying and speaking time

The suicide in 13 Reasons Why is neither depicted as something beautiful or “right”; her parents are destroyed, her classmates are crying, and no one really understands why.

Hannah’s biggest problem – before her suicide – is that she is misunderstood or overlooked by the people around her. Nobody listens (or understands her), and nobody sees her. Really sees her. – As she says in her tape recordings leading up to her suicide:

“Do not take me for granted. Not again.”

When Hannah does not want to be taken for granted – again – or when she half despairingly, half accusingly says, “You’ve never been a girl,” you take her seriously because she has made the ultimate sacrifice to get the viewers’ attention. The suicide gives Hannah an authority to tell her story from her perspective – almost an entitlement.

Why would a dead girl lie?

The risk of 13 Reasons Why is not the fact that it articulates a suicide or perhaps glorifies it. Teenagers know that suicide exists. The risk of the series is the fact that Hannah does not get her speaking time until she has killed herself. Hannah does not become important until she has committed suicide, and therein lies the series’ greatest challenge: The suicide becomes a necessary means to stop the things Hannah experiences and is exposed to. The only way (in the series) she can stop the bullying, the abuse, and the indifference is by slitting her wrists.

At no time are mental issues or diagnoses which may lead to suicide, if not remedied, articulated. – Potential remedy which also does not play a big role in the series; guilt imposition, on the other hand, does; It’s everybody else – the 13 people who each have received their own cassette tape – who are to blame that Hannah is dead. Her final revenge are the accusations on tape, and they are left with no opportunity to fend for themselves.

Help?

“What if the only way not to feel bad, is to stop feeling anything, at all – forever?”

But you can get help! Denmark has helplines for both chat, text, and talking, and we have a vast network for prevention of suicide and self-harm – like most other countries do. These networks and measures are not touched by the popular Netflix show, and that’s a problem. The problem is not that the series focuses on a girl’s suicide – the problem is that the series presents the suicide as an effective “now I’ll show everyone they were wrong!”-solution, and at the same time presenting it as an inevitable endgame for bullying and abuse. 13 Reasons Why is excellent television containing all the ingredients for becoming a next generation of Beverly Hills; it’s already been renewed for another season and it’s particularly popular among teenagers.

13 Reasons Why very much deals with being the one left out.

As parents and professionals we may take advantage of people’s interest in the series and the subject it addresses – we know that the show is watched by young people, and we know that the show does not really try to lift the responsibility which necessarily has to accompany such a heavy issue. This responsibility trickles down to the adults, especially adults around young people who potentially could see Hannah’s suicide as a “good idea”, both because of a heavy teen-mindset but also because of a nobody-listens-to-me-frustration which can greatly occupy life during teen-years.

13 Reasons Why kicks up high a pretty big ball – it’s the responsibility of professionals and parents to catch it again.

Read more: Interview: “I do understand Hannah”


Many organisations, helplines, and chat services in Denmark are ready to listen, guide, or just “be there” for those who would like to talk about self-harm, suicide, eating disorders, and other issues. Get in touch with the Danish National Association against eating disorders and self-harm @ www.lmsos.dk/ or Lifeline @ www.livslinien.dk or tel. 70201201. Also, there’s always somebody to talk to on CfDP’s own anonymous youth counselling on www.cyberhus.dk.

The municipality of Roskilde: Joint mission across departments

Roskilde municipality would like to ferret out vulnerable young people online

The municipality of Roskilde is choosing to use digital counselling in order to ferret out vulnerable young people who are hurting or who are at risk of developing problems. This way, the municipality may have the opportunity to intervene at an early stage and possibly prevent future problems. The Director of Training and Health with the municipality of Roskilde, Hanne Ourø Jensen, hopes that the upcoming project may provide an answer whether digital chat is a good medium to detect vulnerable young people as early as possible with the purpose of motivating them to receive help. “We hope to get in touch with some of the young people whom we otherwise don’t see, or whom we meet very late when they are already in a skewed development,” says Hanne Ourø Jensen.

Roskilde municipality views the anonymity as a major advantage. The motivational phase of having the opportunity to make a difference in young people’s lives can be quite long since many young people are shy about problems in their family and their own problems, as well. So, anonymity may help young people seek help sooner while allowing the municipality to introduce to someone the help they are able to offer.

CfDP to teach us digital pedagogy

Thus, the municipality of Roskilde has joined the vast group of municipalities who are currently working with Centre for Digital Youth Care on digital chat counselling. Hanne Ourø Jensen looks forward to their collaboration and is hoping that CfDP may help Roskilde municipality in several areas, including: Development of a collaboration between an organisation for volunteers, positive informational exchange about chatting with young people online, and general experience in the digital field. “They must teach us how to do digital pedagogy, because this is a field with which we are unfamiliar,” explains Hanne Ourø Jensen. Hanne explains that there are many considerations and fixed procedures for the municipality to meet citizens directly and personally. However, since a lot of young people spend much of their life on digital media, the municipality of Roskilde must meet them differently.

Chatting is a tool that can open up interdisciplinary collaboration

“At risk” and vulnerable young people are a challenge for Roskilde municipality, and for many of the departments, it is a core task to help children and young people start a healthy and well-balanced adult life. Cross-departmental collaboration is therefore necessary, and the chat room has proved to be a good tool for the interdisciplinary collaboration in other municipalities. You are independent of geographic distances, and only one computer and an internet connection are required. “It makes sense that we’re collaborating, so we may acquire as much information as possible as well as capacity building on counselling and early detection of vulnerable young people via the internet,” Hanne Ourø Jensen concludes.

Read more about CfDP’s municipal collaborations.

Project BRUS: Difficult to sit on your hands!

Breaking the taboo on drug-born families

Most importantly, project BRUS helps adolescens to break the taboo on alcohol or drugs in their families. BRUS does this by articulating adolescens experiences, either through physical meetings or through anonymous chat counselling. BRUS would also like to help break the taboo with parents, if needed. Liability arrangement is part of BRUS’ work on taboos and articulating adolescens experiences, since quite a few of them assume way too much responsibility. BRUS allows adolescens to let go of a responsibility which is not theirs in the first place, and instead, allowing them to focus on their own needs. Elisa Baunsgaard, treatment provider at BRUS, explains that a lot of adolescens she encounters in her work, find it hard to feel their own emotions:

”We help young people notice how they feel so that they become aware of their own boundaries as well as getting a sense of their own responsibility. We empower them to act by making them agents of their own lives.”

The chat counselling is reaching a broader target group of adolescens

Although digital counselling is still rather new at BRUS, there is no doubt about the many benefits. Through a digital chat, BRUS may reach a broader target group of adolescens who need adult contact. It may be adolescens who do not trust the treatment system and who would never enter a physical practice, but through chatting they might regain their in professional help – and more importantly, that someone wants to help them. Likewise, the chatroom gives them an opportunity to practice saying things aloud in an anonymous and casual room where they, safely, can see how their words are responded to by other people.

The chatroom is also a flexible tool that makes a process possible for adolescens who find it difficult to make time for BRUS in their daily opening hours, or who live far away from the physical location of BRUS. This way, the chat counselling can help maintain and motivate adolescens in-between the physical conversations.

Chatting with someone you cannot see, nor hear

Regarding challenges, Elisa Baunsgaard does not hide the fact that there are certain challenges associated with the chat counselling as a tool: “I’m used to working with physical attendance and contact where I can read adolescens and balance myself to the one I’m in a dialogue with face to face. So, personally and professionally, it’s a challenge chatting with someone you can’t see or hear. There’s no mimic.” Elisa also mentions that it is new to her to “sit on her hands,” that is, listening to adolescens stories and experiences without going directly to solutions or action plans. As a social worker and a treatment provider, Elisa Bundgaard is used to take action, for example, calling an adolescens family or school teachers. Chat counselling is different, and she acknowledges that it requires some effort of adjustment.

Maintaining anonymity despite recognising a young person in a chatroom, is also a challenge. As a starting point, all chat sessions must be considered unique, so someone may tell their story again and again and thus, practice articulating something that is difficult. At times, this is challenging for treatment providers who usually have the opportunity to follow up on the content from conversation to conversation. In this connection, BRUS have chosen to show their first names in the chatroom in order that a young person have the option of choosing to continue a previous conversation with the same treatment provider, or instead, “wiping the board clear” each time.

The chat counselling’s future in project BRUS

BRUS has already some suggestions regarding their chat counselling in the future. Among others, it may be used as a shelter for adolescens who no longer are a part of project BRUS, but still need someone to talk to. This could be done by making adolescens appoint a specific time for a chat or by using the weekly open BRUS chat. Such a shelter could be used for both individual sessions and group sessions. The chat counselling as a shelter could also be used for adolescens who have had to opt out of a physical process at BRUS due to, for example, relocation or a post-school stay. Thus, they could continue their process via chat conversations and have a proper closure.

Please get in touch with Signe Sandfeld Hansen if you would like to know more about BRUS’ use of their chat counselling.

Actively battling fake news

Digital pollution of information and source criticism

The concept of fake news greatly surfaced during the American election in 2016, seeing the spread of concocted stories on social media. Through exposure, and sharing in particular, fake news could quickly reach a great number of people. At home, fake news has also had a strong presence, and DR (Danish Broadcast Corporation), the University of Copenhagen, and research company, Wilke, have focussed on this topic. The latter has recently conducted a survey which showed that 24.4 % of the Danish population has less confidence in Danish media, following a focus on the issue of fake news. Especially young people’s confidence in Danish media has suffered (28 % of 18-29-year-old’s). At CfDP, we are also familiar with the concept, and we meet a number of professionals at our talks who worry about young people’s uncritical approach to sources.

”Teachers and child/youth workers are worried on behalf of their students because information is increasingly gathered from small bubbles on Facebook, and also, there’s speculation in misleading information. This is another aspect, one of many, belonging under the umbrella of digital education,”

says Jonas Ravn, speaker and project manager, CfDP.

How do you spot fake news?

Danish journalist, Erkan Özden, offers his take on ways to spot fake news in his e-book “Fake news.” He is hosting DR’s school project “In the Service of Truth” where he teaches young people about source criticism, credibility and fake news. Also, he conducts talks and workshops about this issue at schools and other institutions of education across the country. With his book, Erkan touches on the issue of how people should ask themselves critical questions before sharing news on Facebook, Snapchat, or other social media. Who is the sender, and do you know the media in question? Does the news look strange, characterised by spelling- and articulative errors or visibly manipulated images? And does it sound a little bit too crazy to be true?

Erkan’s e-book is a well-done and informative piece of material which provides a fine introduction to the phenomena of fake news, and which, by the way, you can download for free.

Fake news on “challenge games” challenges counsellings

Pedagogical consultant Niels-Christian Bilenberg, CfDP, explains that a lot of European online counsellings have dealt with the issue of fake news up close during these past months, especially fake news surrounding the so-called challenge games. Challenge games entail that young people supposedly challenge each other in a sort of “game” where they harm themselves. This fictive phenomena started out as fake news, however, people have taken this as face value and through publicity on social media, the phenomena has become real. It is, however, important to note that the proliferation of the phenomena is estimated to be strongly overrated. These fake news have created significant challenges for the various counsellings across Europe, accommodating a pressure from professionals as well as parents.

Meeting with Facebook regarding fake news and challenge games

There has been a pronounced wish for guidelines of how to deal with fake news. Among others, the Insafe-network has participated in an online meeting with Facebook, discussing challenge games along with how Facebook experiences this problem. “We experienced the largest number of participants so far! This indicates the volume of the problem,” says Niels-Christian Bilenberg. Therefore, he looks forward to creating a united strategy for the fight against the spreading of fake news, particular those related to challenge games.

“I greatly look forward to sharing experiences and knowledge with other helplines that are part of the Insafe-network, so that we may be better equipped to dismantle news on trends that don’t exist at all before they gain momentum in the media, and risk becoming a reality,”

Niels-Christian Bilenberg closes.

Recently, Facebook has launched a system against fake news where you can easily report a post that you suspect to be fake. This post will then be checked by independent collaborators and consequently, be labelled as “approved” or “under suspicion.”

Read more about Insafe: http://cfdp.dk/danish-helpline-part-of-insafe/

What is Insafe?

  • Insafe is a collaboration between 26 European countries.
  • Insafe is coordinated by The European Schoolnet and is co-financed by the European Union via ‘Safer Internet Programme.’
  • Insafe is dedicated to create awareness of internet-safety, and aims to raise awareness with particularly children and young people on how to use the internet positively, safely and effectively.
  • The mission of the network is to empower children and young people throughout Europe to manage themselves online.

Cyberhus is official Danish Helpline

In 2009, Cyberhus was appointed official ‘Helpline’ under the EU-based ‘Safer Internet Plus Programme.’ The appointment establishes Cyberhus as the official Danish participant in this area, and therefore, committing themselves to be available for Danish children, young people, and parents who should inquire about safe internet-use. Under the EU-programme in Denmark, Cyberhus collaborates with The Media Council for Children and Young people which serves as an awareness centre in this field, as well as Save the Children Denmark serving as official ‘Hotline.’ Cyberhus is part of Insafe’s steering committee and participates in planning and developing the professional content at annual conferences.

10 years have passed

By Jonas Ravn, speaker and project manager, CfDP

In 2007, I had completed my studies in Media Studies where people still spent most of their energy researching young people’s television habits and website use. The position at Cyberhus entailed meeting real young people and focussing on their use of communities. Back then, the counselling of Cyberhus experienced an increase of inquiries dealing with the relatively new online communities. Especially Arto was very popular. Arto was Denmark’s biggest website, counting more than 800,000 active profiles, 100 million page views per month, and more than 80,000 people online at a time. Schools started to contact Cyberhus with the desire to teach children good manners, netiquette, and password security. We familiarised ourselves with terms like IRL-guarantee, net-romances and Arto-marriages, and we were on familiar terms with places such as MSN Messenger, Speek, the Ofir chatrooms, NationX, Skum, Habbo, MySpace, and Foursquare.

The coolest continuation school pupils had gotten themselves a Razr v3 from Motorola – an iconic, flat flip phone which most of all was just .. a phone. Others had inherited their parents’ Nokia Brick. Even decently used, the 3310 could hold power for at least a week. And you could play Snake. Win!

This year relaunches the 3310 as a hipster-retro “back-to-nature” phone to those who outlived FOMO, and now have seen the light in JOMO. Most get nostalgic when speaking of Nokia phones, but few can actually see themselves ditching the smartphone and return to the brick. It is so unbelievable how much has happened with our devices in just 10 years, and how much influence they have had on our interaction.

Mostly for the older students

2007 had us talk about netiquette with mostly the older students. We started talking to students in the lower secondary education; however, it soon began to drift down through the cohorts. When Facebook became commonplace between 2008-2011, we started to teach middle school about all the challenges which arose with this platform: There were plenty of hate-pages, like-hunting, and face-rapes.

Along came small waves of other social media which also created challenges in school. Perhaps you remember Formspring and the Chatroulette? In recent years we have talked quite a lot about visual media such as Instagram, Youtube, Musical.ly, and Snapchat. Especially cases of digital violations and the fascination of Youtube as an unedited window to the world are prevalent. 7-year-old Naja Münster has got 160,000 subscribers on Youtube today. It goes without saying that it places great demands on parents, day care centres, and primary school teachers to articulate the culture of visual media. Today, we regularly make presentations in the 3rd grade, and we also make quite a few presentations for parents of the youngest schoolchildren.

The good story

A lot has happened with the development these past 10 years during which our Danish school service has existed. Basically, I am quite optimistic. We (children as well as adults) have become wiser. While it may seem hopeless when reading the press’ stories on young people’s lack of digital education, a lot of areas are less prevalent than have been the case previously. There are basic issues of safety for which parents and schools, to a much greater extent, prepare their children. The early age of onset of mobile phones indeed entails that children are exposed to adult content way too early; however, it also means that they begin an online life while their parents may influence them, gently pushing them in the right direction. It is our experience that schools very much start to employ digital education in their daily processes rather than treating it as an isolated issue. This is so good; and it is an amazingly exciting development to be part of.

Thank you for 10 years of presentations, workshops, and seminars for children and adults 🙂

The non-cadastral club is digital

By Anni Marquard, Head of centre, CfDP

The municipality of Skanderborg wants to meet young people on their home ground

Skanderborg municipality has chosen to strengthen their use of social media as a contemporary form of outreach work where you reach the municipality’s young people to a far greater extent, both due to the effectiveness of the media, and also because young people are met on their own home ground. The latter is the main reason why the municipality of Skanderborg has entered into a collaboration with CfDP on creating an anonymous, digital counselling. SSP coordinator (interdisciplinary collaboration between schools, social authorities, and police, ed.) in Skanderborg municipality, Kristian Kilt, hopes to reach more young people by offering them more choices of counselling.

“For young people, it’s all about being able to choose their preferred tool or platform,” says SSP-coordinator Kristian Kilt.

Today, young people are offered counselling by phone, Messenger, or by physical attendance, however, an opportunity of a 100% anonymous chat is not yet available. So, the idea has been to add another tool to DMK’s toolbox by offering young people anonymous chat counselling through Cyberhus.

CfDP and Skanderborg both win

This past year, Cyberhus has had 4,771 visitors from the municipality of Skanderborg, 70,2% being girls. This also constitutes a good reason for forming a collaboration because Skanderborg is especially challenged when it comes to reaching vulnerable girls.

“Some of the material we see from Cyberhus, and some of the statistics that have been the basis of our application, indicate that particularly these girls use digital chat-tools when they seek counselling,” SSP-coordinator Kristian Kilt explains.

According to Kristian Kilt, the municipality of Skanderborg has greatly enjoyed being able to lean on a socio-economic organisation and a piece of successful volunteering (Cyberhus), which they would like strengthen further. Herby, they hope that their collaboration with CfDP will be a success for both parties, where CfDP, in addition to developing on its own collaborative methods, is also able to provide Skanderborg access to a large number of young people, especially girls who have a hard time. Meanwhile, the municipality of Skanderborg can help Cyberhus concretise its counselling and carry young people onwards through the system from the voluntary anonymous chat of Cyberhus.

The municipality of Skanderborg is optimistic about their chat counselling on a digital platform, while being excited to see the scale of young people they will be able to reach. Later in the process, the municipality will evaluate their experiences and communicate them to other municipalities throughout Denmark through a methodological handbook in collaboration with CfDP.

Read more about our municipal collaborations.

This project is supported by:

Suppprted by the Velux Foundation
The future of digital badging

By Signe Sandfeld Hansen, M.Sc. in Psychology and counsellor, CfDP

It is not always easy to find a job. It can be particularly challenging if you are a vulnerable person who cannot see your own qualities. The recently completed Skills Connect project primarily aimed to offer youth between the ages of 16-25 a practical opportunity to verbalise their problem-solving skills, and secondarily to identify the assistance they are able to provide to other young people online, for example on our youth counselling, Cyberhus.dk. This resulted in the development of 2 digital badging courses; “Problem-Solver” and “Super-Helper.”

Back in 2015, when the project started, digital badging was still a relatively unknown concept in Denmark, however, finding ourselves in a digital age, badging has become more accessible, more versatile, and it has become an effective measure to help young people develop skills; for instance, skills necessary for finding a job. Furthermore, it could be assumed that the digitisation of learning and the use of elements from gamification is a relevant and effective approach to engage young people. This applies both to the development of young people’s skills as well as the process of learning more about themselves.

What did we learn?

Through the process of developing and diffusing our badging courses, we have seen a need for more accredited digital badging for young people in order to bridge the gap between what young people have to offer and what an employer is looking for. Accreditation through recognised organisations, sponsoring a digital badging course, would be the most effective way to encourage young people to involve themselves with digital badging, while ensuring the credibility of the badge to potential employers.

We know that young people find it useful to complete a digital badging course. However, we are also aware that a broader recognition of these and other digital badging courses is a key to further improve young people’s employability. We know that we can help young people understand the skills they have acquired and give them the tools to demonstrate this to an employer in a valuable way, and we are proud to be part of taking the first steps towards a more widespread knowledge of badging in Denmark.

Click to learn more about “Problem-Solver” and “Super-Helper”!

Social reality – creating digital tools and games for young people with cognitive disabilities

By Danish Safer Internet Centre

The objective of the project is to empower children and young people with cognitive disabilities in their use of social media in order to include them in online social communities and avoid exclusion. Furthermore, it aims to provide pedagogues with knowledge and tools to teach the target group about tolerance, respect and ethics in online communities, for example, through activities concerning control of impulses.

Workshops

During autumn 2016, 20 workshops were carried out in leisure clubs and schools for pupils with cognitive disabilities. Inspired by a talk with a young project ambassador diagnosed with ADHD (20-year-old male blogger @ADHD Mikkel), the group of young people took an active role in discussions about the difficulties of being online. Themes for the discussions were online language and, in particular, hate speech, like-hunting and recognition, nude images and provocative actions on social media, and faking or adversely exploiting the advances of being anonymous online. Young people with cognitive disabilities often feel frustrated when being repeatedly misunderstood due to their struggle with reading and remembering the social codes, and difficulties in perceiving their own and other people’s personal limits.

The second part of the workshop dealt with emoji-trolls versus emoji-heroes and the participants’ understanding of negative online behaviour opposed to keeping up a good approach on social media and in online games. Based on supplied templates (.pdf), the participants created their images of emoji-trolls and emoji-heroes, followed by their reflections on these two categories of online presence to camera – see the resulting videos here (the commentary is in Danish, although the illustrations alone impart the participant’s views).

Online test and toolbox

An online test, being developed as part of the project, will have a social-media-style interface taking inspiration from gaming, and using the emoji-trolls and emoji-heroes as the main characters. When testing themselves in different online situations, users will get immediate feedback on their actions and, after completion, can repeat the test to see how different responses produce different outcomes.

The online toolbox for pedagogues will be developed in collaboration with pedagogues from the participating leisure clubs. The toolbox will contain information about children’s and young people’s general use of online media and, especially, social media. It will provide pedagogues with knowledge about challenges specific to certain target groups, and will also outline opportunities in relation to positive online communities. The toolbox will also suggest a series of activities with children and young people that help to develop coping strategies in relation to communication in online communities.

A significant part of the project is to create a booklet with information about how and why it is crucial to focus on social media, online gaming and communication in online communities in the daily work with children and young people with cognitive disabilities.

Further updates on the project will follow in due course.

Find out more about the work of the Danish Safer Internet Centre, including its awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services.

Experienced counsellors on new digital ground

By Sonya Spender, communicator, CfDP

It is morning. Outside the wind is blowing, and the trees are shaking, however, at Spanien 19, Centre for Digital Youth Care welcome attendees with coffee and baked rolls. The counsellors are from various municipalities, and they all participate in the project of BRUS, a conversational service for children and young people from families suffering from substance related problems.

See website projektbrus.dk (Danish).

We slowly start the day while the remaining participants slip inside the room, and others finish chewing. Today, employees of project BRUS are introduced to their upcoming digital counselling tool; the chat room. Digital head coordinator of Cyberhus youth counselling, Niels-Christian Bilenberg of CfDP, begins by sharing his own experiences as a chat counsellor, and challenges that may arise along the way; challenges such as the lack of body language and accentuation, misunderstandings, the time it takes to articulate something in writing, avoiding words like “these”, and users suddenly logging off. Today, employees will participate in two workshops, including exploring digital counselling for themselves in a trial chat-session.

It’s a bit like doing a puzzle

You are welcome to each come up with a problem that you would like to inquire about,” Niels-Christian says. Participants must take turns acting as a chat counsellor as well as the user, so they have a better understanding of the two different perspectives. Before this, everyone receives a versatile tour of the digital counsellor’s toolbox:

”You meet a lot of different types of children and young people, some go straight to the point while others may just want to talk a for a bit,” Niels-Christian explains, and continues: “So, you should ask about the young person, be caring and curious, but at the same time, give him or her space. As such, chatting may be slightly compared with a puzzle where you need to collect all the pieces in order to form an image of the user.”

Niels-Christian also emphasises that chatting is not for everyone. Chatting is not the same as a physical conversation, and demands a particular approach and understanding. Using chat is a conscious choice, not for a lack of better.

Here, take the wheel, now you are in control!

The presentation is followed by a short break. Participants get to exchange thoughts before the situation-training starts, and time has come to explore the trial chat. They distribute themselves at the tables, there is chatter in the air while CfDP’s consultants help everyone get started. The counsellors each open their chat room and “young people” start ticking in. The curious faces now look concentrated.

The silence ends abruptly: “Hey, I accidentally wrote “these”!”, a participant exclaims. “Remember, use spoken language, and try to read the young person’s mental age,” says Niels-Christian directed at the assembly. There is laughter at the tables, and the new counsellors express that it is not entirely easy to comply with the instructions given by Niels-Christian.

You also have to be aware of the young person’s use of smileys, block letters – and how about the use of profanity? “May I swear if it comes to me naturally? Something like, Damnm, I sure do understand where you’re coming from,” a participant asks. “This all depends on the user, this is difficult to assess in the beginning. Some young people use a more formal tone with adults, that is, they don’t talk to their friends that way,” explains Niels-Christian. A participant notices that you probably have to be careful not to conclude something too quickly based on what the user is writing, and that it is better to be more inquiring in order not to misunderstand the user.

How about exclamations marks and things like that?,” someone asks the person sitting next to them. “I believe that would be ok,” another participant replies. People are typing and sparring at the tables, and eventually there is more flow in the situation-training.

Ethics and guidelines

After lunch, participants switch roles and a new team of “young people” log on the trial chat. Afterwards, people discuss the workshop. Several people agree that one minute is a surprisingly long time when you are young and have sent a message. “You feel very vulnerable,” someone says. Also, it is frustrating, as a user, being asked about your aim of the conversation. “I didn’t know what I wanted!,” one of the other “users” says. Others believe that the trial chat lacked spoken language since some of the counsellors spoke a bit harsh, and some felt understood and appreciated to an extent that it became too much. All agree that it would be a good idea to, in advance, give the user the opportunity to say yes/no if the counsellor is sidetracking.

The situation-training shows where there is place for improvement, and with that in mind, the day continues with a new workshop. The counsellors discuss ethical dilemmas in small groups, and the subject most prevalent with the participants is the topic of what to do if you “recognise” one of the anonymous young people in the chat room. This results in a lengthy discussion: Should counsellors state their real first name in the chat room so that young people may figure out who they are chatting to, or should counsellors maintain their anonymity and only reveal their identity if the counsellor recognises the user? No final conclusion is made, however, all agree that it is an important issue to be aware of in the upcoming work of project BRUS.

The equally excited and weary participants leave with new knowledge and practical tools which they may use in their chat counselling in the future. They have taken the first important steps toward succeeding with their digital work with young people.

Chat in the municipality of Copenhagen – looking back on 2016

By Sonya Spender, communicator, CfDP

2016 in numbers

These statistics are based upon 170 conversations. Counting 70,6 % of all inquiries, girls are still the group of users who dominate the chat room. Age wise, 15-17-year-old’s use the chat counselling the most, constituting 35,9 % of the overall statistics. Conversational topics range widely: Most inquiries concern sexuality and sex (18,8 %), but sexual assault is also a prominent topic (16,1%). Next, we find love, including falling in love and heartaches (16,1 %), and familiy/parents (12,5 %). In addition to sexual abuse, there has been quite a few conversations about incest (8 %), self-harm (7,1 %), and thoughts of suicide (5,4 %).

Chat counselling works well in close collaboration with other services

During 2016, the chat counselling of the municipality of Copenhagen has referred 30,2 % of their users to parents or another adult, 20,9 % to teachers, 16,3 % to doctors, and 14 % to other family members. Counsellors also make frequent use of other online services when making referrals; for example, they referred 23,1 % of their users to the Danish Children’s Helpline (Children’s Rights), 23,1 % to voluntary initiatives on Cyberhus.dk, and 15,4% to the Sex Helpline. Also, Plexus, Ventilen (The Valve), and the local “24-hour-service” are used occasionally.

Johnny Szumlanski explains that typically, they refer young people to other places in the municipality of Copenhagen:

”We’re able to be much more specific than those who need to cater to young people nationwide. We’ve got much more knowledge about what is happening locally, including e.g. small projects or groups, or other new initiatives that have not yet been widely renowned.”

The municipality of Copenhagen has been working closely with Copenhagen’s social 24-hour-service which provides an added advantage. The 24-hour-service is a service available in all municipalities that handles social acute cases concerning children and young people. The social 24-hour-service in Copenhagen has already assisted Copenhagen’s chat counselling with help and advice concerning several of their severe acute cases.

“It’s really exciting to work with players of a completely different muscle strength relative to the aid we are normally able to provide. For instance, we’re able to say to someone: Join me at the 24-hour-service, or come by taxi, we’ll pay for it. Or should I come pick you up? For example, if the issue at hand is severe,” Johnny Szumlanski explains.

An increase of issues concerning violence, alcohol, rape, and assault

2016 has not been a year of any significant increase of the overall number of inquiries to Copenhagen’s chat counselling, perhaps because of a lack of PR for the counselling. Most young people have entered through Cyberhus.dk. However, there has been an increase of the number of severe issues such as violence, drinking, rape, incest, and assaults which may indicate that users have become more confident in the local chat counselling of the municipality of Copenhagen. Johnny Szumlanski elaborates:

”They (inquiries, ed.) usually don’t reach us. Sometimes, but not as much as we’ve experienced during this one year. Usually, other adults are made aware who alert their surroundings.”

The increased number of conversations dealing with severe issues has to do with the fact that the chat room ensures anonymity. There are not necessarily more cases of sexual abuse, however, chat counselling may be made aware of more cases. As such, chat counselling contributes to the awareness of more cases of sexual abuse, and thus, provides the opportunity to stop such cases quicker.

Anonymity saves time and streamlines counselling

At Cyberhus, it is our general impression that users would like to be as anonymous as possible. The vast majority do not wish to inform about their residence, whether they are already in contact with a professional, or whether they have previously used the chat room. This is something Johnny Szumlanski recognises from the chat counselling of Copenhagen’s municipality. Szumlanski explains that users often ask whether this is completely anonymous, and whether or not the chat counsellors really cannot see them:

”Anonymity plays an important role. Young people are quicker to open up, and issues are often ‘resolved’ within 5-10 minutes.”

According to Johnny, 2-3 meetings in their physical counselling have often been necessary before a young person has had the courage to “open up.”

“Chatting can save time because a lot of users go straight to the point, which results in less resources or man hours spent on any individual,” Szumlanski elaborates. “You reach the crux of the matter quicker, and also, young people are making inquiries far sooner. Many of our users have not shared their issues with other adults. Therefore, we are often their first contact,” Johnny Szumlanski explains.

See more reflections from the counselling of Copenhagen’s municipality following this link.

Cyberhus 2016 – news and trends

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%.

A group for gamers

By Christian Mogensen, speaker and project manager, CfDP

Electronic empowerment

We started out with three young people. Initially, the idea was to offer a carrot in order to involve them with everyday life at Aarhus Youth Centre. Computer gaming and spending time with Thoke and myself, were meant to make the services of Aarhus Youth Centre more attractive. Very quickly, though, it made sense to reverse the issue of a worrying consumption of gaming: The games were not the reason that things were bad at school or at home; they were symptoms hereof. We met a group of young people who would love to be social as well as involved, but for different reasons, they were not capable or had the courage to do so. So, they embraced gaming – an arena custom-made to provide an appropriate amount of responsibility, resistance, support, feedback, and a pat on the back.

Computer games are not designed to be fun – they are designed for people to succeed in

This way, computer games are incredible – when your turn on your console at home, you are suddenly the guy who kisses the princess, kills the dragon, or saves the world. This is a healthy experience – young as well as old – if you are able to translate your empowerment to the rest of your life, too. When we reversed our equation, the otherwise unsolvable knot began to loosen: There was a common ground for communication and learning, which had previously been invisible – suddenly, people would talk about modern neuroscience, legislation and contemporary history for a full 60 minutes, and as if by magic, our young people had their minds and hearts involved with the project – and with themselves. We made an effort to meet our young people where they, in fact, were – rather than where we would like them to be.

Through support from, among others, supervising psychologists and interested colleagues, the project and its target frame was developed. Several of our young people got involved with school and family again, and all met social objectives seen with the eyes of both parents, professionals, and themselves.

Municipal collaboration

Today, the project is anchored in Aarhus Youth Centre of Aarhus municipality and Centre for Digital Youth Care; a united multidisciplinary and personnel effort is undertaken across all the diagnoses, issues, challenges, and personalities present in the group. Our latest big project was to furnish and decorate the very nice rooms made available by Aarhus Youth Centre with sharks, waves, and all sorts of maritime elements – matching our purchased computers from Shark Gaming. Young people showed up far more times a week than the project was scheduled for – not in order to play computer games – but for the purpose of painting, working, helping, and being together on their project.

Aarhus municipality as a whole, along with a great many related employees, have been invaluable for the project to reach the degree of stability and professional capacity present today; administrative employees who have assisted in finding the correct paragraphs and shortcuts in gnarled regulations, and staff whose great knowledge on the pedagogical and psychological field could be combined with CfDP’s experience and know-how on digital pedagogy and digital identity, making it possible to meet young people on their grounds.

The journey has cost many night hours managing project descriptions, fund applications, grants, objectives and thoughts – but now, we are left with more than 10 young people in our gaming group, several people on our waiting list, and an incredible daily life with wonderful, social and dedicated young people, who have acquired a language for their hobby and an understanding of how it can either be a springboard to the rooms of their peers – or a step further to a career as an eSports athlete – or a presenter specialising in computer games…

Currently, Aarhus Youth Centre and Centre for Digital Youth Care, are evaluating and systemising the long process leading to the successful “UC Gaming” group, so that we may help other municipalities establish similar services in early 2017.

Gaming is not (just) for fun!

By Christian Mogensen, speaker and project manager, CfDP

The accumulative hours spent in front of the screen

If we argue that videogames are not designed to be fun but rather to give a player the sensation of being able, and being something, we quickly shift our understanding of gaming from being indifferent pastime to being something that could meet some basic human needs: We open up to the idea that capability, mastering, ownership, self-worth, co-operation, and several other important aspects of human well-being may exist in the digital spheres of young people. Possibly in light-versions, but if you find yourself in a tumultuous teenage room, it can be extremely enticing to have your needs fulfilled in online-arenas as opposed to the schoolyard – being online, you are in charge of rules, the volume, formats, and connections. This can give some young people a sense of calm and being in touch with the pace, which can be healthy and may help them grow themselves into healthy and happy people. So, it is important that we, as professionals, take the modern computer gamer or nerd seriously, even when the hours accumulating in front of the screen become more than we deem appropriate.

Working with the computer-playing generation, obviously the games should not play a heroin-like role which allocates the user in an addictive relationship. As a young person, one can become so accustomed to direct their attention toward the screen in order to meet some of their daily needs, which may start a vicious circle where gaming becomes more than its intended purpose: Incredible entertainment, best enjoyed in the company of peers and new friends.

As professionals it is important that we are ready to navigate in the debate still risen by computer games; both whether one may get violent or nonsocial by managing virtual wars, but also whether one languishes as a human being from spending time in front of the screen.

Dragons and Digital Education

Computer games become increasingly more predominant in young people’s lives – boys as well as girls – and for better or worse. Players are able to kill dragons, save the world, and free a village every night – often with their friends. Players are also at risk of cooping up behind myriads of new, wild universes they can log into. As adults, it is important that we continue to look beyond a certain age rating sticker on a given game and, instead, allow importance for digital education in the world of gaming, as well. When you turn on your computer, you do not cease to be human – even though you interact digitally with others, it is still yourself who is in play. As professionals, it is therefore important that we are able to decipher the jargon of players and are bold enough to accompany them into their gaming worlds. – Sometimes, those are the places where they need us the most.

These are some of the reasons why Centre for Digital Youth Care is going to offer, among others:

  • Presentations on gaming for parents: How much is TOO much? Are violent games harmful? Can you become addicted? Is it social to play?
  • Presentations on gaming for young people: How do you balance gaming, school, family, and spare time? Can you get addicted to gaming? What are the warning signals for “addiction”? What games are “good” games? How do you become a good gamer?
  • Presentations on eSport: Introduction to the eSports community for professionals as well as an introduction to how you turn computer games into a sport of diet plans, training schedules, and strategy meetings – and how you attract younger teens into a pro-social and academically founded eSporting-environment.
  • Combining our presentations on Digital Education, Social Media, and Net ethics with our knowledge of gaming, players, and gaming culture.
Digital presence

By Pernille Nymann Højlund, MA (Ed) in Educational Psychology and project worker with the counselling team at CfDP.

Presence at a distance

Since 2004, Centre for Digital Youth Care has offered youth counselling by chat, and is thus based on the fact that the counsellor / youth interaction takes place at a distance. Within a pedagogical context one may assume that closeness is a prerequisite to presence. In this regard, as a chat counsellor, I would like to give my perspective on what presence may look like when the physical closeness is removed from the equation.

It is quiet on the other side of the screen. After a couple of minutes, she sends a sad smiley with a tear dropping down its chin.

Our counselling is anonymous and takes place online. So, I have only the written word and affective symbols to relate to when doing counselling. Young people use smileys as a means of communication to explain how they feel. As a counsellor, I am unable to read facial expressions, tone of voice and/or sensory perceptions, and so, a sharpened attention arises in order to understand and read the user behind the screen.

The young girl adds that she has been really sad for a long time. “That sounds difficult,” I reply and add, “I’m wondering if something has happened which makes you sad?” She tells me that she has a hard time at school and feels lonely. She has written quite a lot, and therefore it takes some time for me to read and reflect on how I may reply best possible. So I write: “If it takes a while before I reply, it’s because I’m reading what you have written.”

My presence requires that I describe what I am doing, to a much greater extent. Else, my lack of response could potentially be interpreted as a lack of presence. My presence also calls for listening actively, paying undivided attention to the young person on the other side of the screen, and being open, caring and interested. In this setting, I believe that presence is determined more by the presence of such factors as opposed to the counsellor’s physical presence/location. We may speak of a digital, distance-carried presence which opens up to an expansion of the traditional understanding of presence that perhaps, in return, sets the stage for physical presence.

To be where it hurts

Counselling children and young people requires, I believe, a presence where you are bold enough to go where it hurts – and stay there. Daring to be in a place where things are difficult, and meeting the user where they are. In a time where documentation, measurability, and hard quantitative data is highly prioritised, it is of utmost importance that the quality, and sense of presence, of each consultative conversation are not reduced to numbers and charts, and knowing that behind these numbers, we deal with quite unique conversations with quite unique young people.

After an hour, she suddenly logs off. This may be due to a number of reasons. Perhaps the connection was poor? Or perhaps she was interrupted by a parent returning home? I will never know. But if she left with an experience of a present counsellor, and feeling recognised, respected, and being helped one step further, my task has been successful. I hope so.

I lean back in my chair and reflect on our chat conversation, and wonder why she logged off. Next, I clear my head by sharing my thoughts with another counsellor. After a little while, I am ready for a new conversation. I open up a new chatroom. A couple of minutes pass. Bliiing.

MitAssist (MyAssist): When a counselling service for boys is working

By Ida Ahlmann Østergaard, project worker, CfDP

We have succeeded in attracting the boys

On our project day, pedagogical consultant with Centre for Digital Youth Care, Niels-Christian Bilenberg, was able to reveal that we have succeeded in encouraging boys to seek help on MitAssist.dk. Following one year’s history of MitAssist.dk, boys count for 88% (equalling 314 boys) of the site’s users , while girls only count for 12% (equalling 44 girls) of the site’s users. At the same time, this means that the number of boys, during our first year, has already exceeded our target for the entire project period (spring 2015 – autumn 2017) with 200 boys.

The first year (1 November 2015 – 31 October 2016), users asked 237 questions, of which 215 questions were asked by boys, and 22 questions were asked by girls. These numbers are untypical to online youth counselling where usually girls are strongly overrepresented among users. The reason we have managed to draw in boys is, among others, due to the fact that MitAssist is built on gamification which is an element that particularly appeals to young boys.

Coach – definitely not a counsellor!

The concept of gamification on MitAssist.dk is expressed by the fact that a counsellor is called a coach, and help is called an assist. These expressions – to boys – are well-known expressions from the world of gaming, a world that do not readily remind them of the type of traditional (online) counselling which they may not feel like visiting. That is, focus should deter somewhat from the idea of needing help.

“Had we named the site BoyTalk (a site of the name GirlTalk exists, Ed.), it wouldn’t work – that would scare the boys away. Instead, we have created a universe, which by help of expressions from the gaming world, appeals to boys,” explains Niels-Christian Bilenberg.

However, Niels-Christian Bilenberg also states that they know they are not able to target all boys by MitAssist:

“We cannot create a site for every boy out there. As in, you cannot create a youth counselling for all young people out there. So, we may not reach all boys but if we reach boys who don’t feel like using Cyberhus.dk or TUBA.dk, then we have made good progress,” says Niels-Christian Bilenberg.

MitAssist.dk has a dual function

From interviews and questionnaires, evaluation consultant with Ineva, Amalie Agerbæk, explained it could be concluded that boys use MitAssist.dk for two purposes; receiving help, but also providing help to others. A boy, 16, confirmed this in an interview, when he was asked about how MitAssist could be useful:

“Having your problems solved by people who have some experience. And the other thing is being able to help others. Giving advice to others if you’ve tried something they ask about. I think it’s nice to help others. Bad experiences can be used to help others – so, in a way something good comes out of your own, perhaps, bad experiences. Or good ones, too.”

Amalie Agerbæk explained that it is of great value to the boys to be able to help each other, which also means that there is rarely unanswered questions on MitAssist. 70% of questions asked are relatively “lightweight” problems such as being in love, heartaches, jealousy, or loneliness. 15% of questions asked belong to the more heavy category, and may for instance deal with self-harm, addiction, or abuse.

MitAssist.dk provides a framework for a community

According to Niels-Christian Bilenberg, it is rarely necessary for coaches to interfere with the assists young people hand each other:

“We experience a great deal of caring and high quality when users help each other. As regards to content, young people’s answers are just as good those given by coaches. So, we rarely find it necessary to interfere. We let our young people reply to each other’s questions – this is of far more value when we do not interfere,” Bilenberg says.

So, an online community has been established where boys greatly seek assists from other boys.

“We thought we were going to be a counselling, however, we became a community. The community is the cornerstone of MitAssist.dk. People support each other. You can be both passive or active. You can receive and give,” says Camilla Rode Jensen, project coordinator with MitAssist.dk.

Future challenges: What about the girls?

On our project day, we also discussed future challenges. One of them being how to make sure that MitAssist.dk stays a counselling site for boys. Because girls are also users of MitAssist, and although the number of girls is not all that high, it is increasing, according to Niels-Christian Bilenberg:

“We have only few girls on MitAssist, but the number is increasing, so how would this develop in five years time? This is something we are very attentive to.”

During this past year, 552 assists have been given on MitAssist.dk; boys have given 370 assists, girls have given 112 assists, and coaches have given 70 assists. So, the girls are relatively active compared to their number when it comes to giving assists. According to Bilenberg, these assists are really good and constructive, and so, it is not a problem that girls are present on MitAssist.dk. However, it would be a problem if the number of girls becomes too big, because this would mean that the boys may withdraw:

“It is clear that something else happens if a lot of girls are present. If the boys have time and space, they reply just as well to questions as girls would have. However, if the girls are quicker and have said what needed to be said, then boys hold back. And there must be room for boys, and we do focus on boys with MitAssist. If too many girls use MitAssist, boys don’t enter. Then they refrain from asking questions,” Bilenberg explains.

Facts about MitAssist.dk

The project is supported by the Velux foundation and will run until the end of 2017. Hereafter, we hope that MitAssist.dk will be of such value to both boys and the municipal youth counsellings in Denmark that the online counselling platform of MitAssist.dk may continue.

This project is supported by:

Suppprted by the Velux Foundation
Why bring the municipal youth counselling online?

By Ida Ahlmann Østergaard, project worker, CfDP

Young people from the municipalities of Halsnæs and Odder will now, extremely quickly, be able to be referred to counsellors from their own municipality when they seek help on Cyberhus.dk. Young people from the municipalities of Copenhagen, Ringkøbing-Skjern, and Aarhus have been able to do so for a while. A total of five municipalities have thus brought their youth counselling online, and more municipalities will follow. But why bring the municipal youth counselling online?

Faster and better help

Anni Marquard, initiator and Head of Centre at Centre for Digital Youth Care, explains that the single most important thing about their collaboration is the fact that shortcuts are created for the counsellors in each of their municipality. Hereby, we ensure that children and young people who need extra help, receive more accurate help, faster:

“It is much easier and quicker to refer someone to a municipality who collaborates with Cyberhus.dk and thus, ensure that they receive proper help,” says Anni Marquard.

Young people, from municipalities across Denmark, may write in and receive counselling on Cyberhus.dk. In some cases, someone may need extra help, and in such instances it is a great advantage if a counsellor is able to refer that person directly to a municipal chat counselling where they are able to chat to a counsellor from their own municipality. Local municipal counsellors are better equipped to help because they know which specific services and opportunities are available in someone’s municipality.

Online counselling must establish contact with young people

Ane Justensen, SSP-consultant (interdisciplinary collaboration between schools, social authorities, and police) with Odder municipality explains that this municipality finds it difficult to get young people to use their open, anonymous counselling in its present form; despite the fact that they assess this is a target group which would actually like to use anonymous counselling. So, Ane Justensen hopes that by bringing their chat counselling online, they will have more young people use their open, anonymous chat counselling:

“Young people do not enter our open, anonymous counselling. They do not come here, and knock on the door and share with us if they feel bad. It is my hope that they will feel more inclined to seek help if they are able to do so online, says Ane Justensen.

The portal of the municipalities with whom we collaborate, will be located on Cyberhus.dk which is already a well-established and popular online counselling platform, and this increases the chances that a young person realises that a local online counselling exists.

Having a total of five municipalities online on Cyberhus.dk, is another great advantage according to Ane Justensen:

“Also, it is a great advantage to become part of a municipal network, hosting a great deal of knowledge, because things have already been implemented in other municipalities. A lot of knowledge sharing takes place which is of great value to us,” says Ane Justensen.

Prevention and skills upgrading

The municipality of Halsnæs would like to do prevention and skills upgrading which is a few of the reasons why they have entered their municipal collaboration with Cyberhus.dk:

“We very much try to focus on prevention, and generally it is a great priority to us to qualify our employees, so that they have the tools needed to handle tasks in demand. Besides, we know that young people from the municipality of Halsnæs do use Cyberhus.dk’s chat counselling, so it makes sense indeed that we, too, bring our counselling online on Cyberhus.dk,” says Martin Bannow, SSP-coordinator with the municipality of Halsnæs.

The municipalities of both Odder and Halsnæs have participated in a start-up training course, being introduced to the concept of providing online counselling, and they will be online on Cyberhus.dk from 1 December.

Would you like to become part of our collaboration?

If you and your municipality would like to become part of our collaboration, become more visible to your local young people, and develop Denmark’s youth counselling, please contact Anni Marquard @ anni@cfdp.dk, or tel.: + 50 50 24 13.
 
This project is supported by:

Suppprted by the Velux Foundation
Learning and reflection

By Signe Sandfeld Hansen, M.Sc. in Psychology and counsellor, CfDP

Sanne is 21 years old. She found it quite difficult to keep up at school, so she dropped out. Sanne suffers from a depression but is in recovery. When she goes through hard days, she lacks patience, and even small problems may seem unmanageable. Sanne notices a Facebook ad for Cyberhus Courses, and she is curious. Previously, she has paid visits to Cyberhus.dk’s chat services.

Sanne navigates to Cyberhus Courses and creates a user profile. She starts out with the course “Super Helper”, because the amount of 20 minutes it takes to complete this course seems manageable to her. She learns that there are numerous different types of help/assistance, and when she gives it some thought, she does realise that she, in fact, contributes to making a difference for other young people.

A couple of days later, she embarks on the first module of the course “Problem Solver.” This course teaches her about her own personality, and also, that her own experiences have value. One week later, she completes the last module of the Problem solving course, and she learns about different tools which she is able to utilise in her work – especially in situations where she starts losing her patience.

Perspectives on skills

Sanne is an example of one our many vulnerable young people who we meet on a daily basis in our youth counselling, Cyberhus.dk. It may be young people who do not thrive in school, someone who has a hard time academically, or someone who does not have anyone with whom they can talk. They may also be really good at giving others a helping hand, or planning an activity, however, failing to see this as a strength. With Cyberhus Courses, we try to give (vulnerable) youth an opportunity to receive a certificate documenting skills which they already utilise in their daily lives.

Users have, among others, replied the following in our evaluation:

Question on Problem Solver: Do you feel better equipped to solve problems?

“Yes, I do. Especially because you get an insight into the fact that different types of personalities react differently. And given that I also am a certain type – receiving an explanation why, sometimes, I act as I do, and what could be a more appropriate way to act.”

Question on Super Helper: Do you feel that you have a better understanding of how someone may help others?

“Yes. The thing about getting an understanding that you can help others online, on Cyberhus. That commenting and liking something may help others, and the fact that sharing something from your own life may also be of help to others.

Question on Diploma: Will you use your diploma in your job application?

“Yes. Then I’m able to show that I have a handle on this. Both in relation to helping others, but also, now I have some tools for solving problems.”

Would you like to know more about the project of Cyberhus Courses, please contact Signe Sandfeld Hansen @ signe@cyberhus.dk.

Instagram og Musical.ly: Help young people adjust their settings

By Jonas Ravn, speaker and project manager, CfDP

New feature on Instagram empowers children’s control

Instagram is one of the most used social platforms among children and young people today. As early as the 4th grade, this image -and video sharing service is widely popular. And it is understandable. Using Instagram, we are able to share our great moments as well as reflect ourselves in other people’s moments. Unfortunately, Instagram is also a place where young people experience receiving very brutal comments directed at their pictures or videos. So, the founders of the company have now introduced an option of filtering words in comments. Although this is not the solution to every problem in the world, it is a step in the right direction because it empowers the child’s sense of control and ownership of their profile.

Filtering of words

As a parent, it is a good idea to help young Instagram-debutants to set up a basic protection of privacy. For instance, by making the account private. However, you can also do a filtering on words – for example, in the case that you (or your child) periodically experience receiving negative comments containing particular expressions or certain words.

A mantra from our school visits with Centre for Digital Youth Care says that you should not voluntarily participate in your own vituperation. One way to protect yourself is using the option of removing the display of comments containing certain words. Specifically, you go to your ‘settings’ and look up the menu item ‘comments.’

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You can ask Instagram to remove “known inappropriate words”. In addition, you can remove words that are particularly troublesome to your child. Imagine that your daughter, against her will, is called Cry-baby or some other disparagingly phrase. Then you will be able add these words to your list of filtered words.

There is an upper limit to everything, and a lot of different ways (and words) may be used if someone intends to bother you. However, it is important that we, as parents and professionals, teach our young people about the options that do exist when creating control and sending some clear signals about what you, as an individual, can accept.

Musical.ly

The app Musical.ly unites the world of music and social media – and it is a ton of fun. Using Musical.ly you can do 15 seconds videos where you sing, ‘lip-sync’ or dance. As a parent, it would be a good idea to familiarise yourself with the degree of disclosure of which your child’s video’s are part.

All the positive stuff:

  • Among other things, you can do a duet with a friend (many 12-13-year-old Danish girls do so).
  • You can do something fun with your family, perhaps even some parents would like to join!
  • It fosters children’s creativity.
  • You can sing together and have fun creating something.
  • It is easy and intuitive to make your own videos.
  • You can regulate whether or not others are able to send you messages directly.
  • You can hide your city, and thus not be able to see others in the immediate environment (relevant to children’s safety).
  • The movie commentary tracks says “Say something nice”, and generally, it is my impression that children, who comment, intend well and use a lot of positive smileys.
  • Generally, Musical.ly is a good introduction to a world of social media such as Youtube and others, because the content is defined.


What you should consider, as a parent:

screenshot_20161109-112650

  • Adults as well as children use the Musical.ly app, and parents must be aware of that – it is not just for children (pertaining to inappropriate contact)
  • The child may choose to share their content on other social media using Musical.ly.
  • You cannot filter what others post although reasons may arise for blocking/reporting the behavior of certain users.
  • The content of available songs has an adult vocabulary and themes which may not necessarily address children below the age of 13.
  • You can put hashtags below each video which may lead to other videos not relevant for certain age groups.
  • Children as young as 5 years of age imitate pop stars who wear provocative clothes and who have a sexual appearance. This is not necessarily a problem; however, you should be attentive to the mirroring that takes place. The most popular and viewed videos are often movie-clips of stereotypical and pretty, (very) young tweens.
  • Livestreaming is an option. Consider whether to insist on watching your child’s video before it is streamed.
  • Teach your child that customary ethics also applies here. Nice tone, be positive, be supportive, ask someone permission before you film them, and so on.
  • Remember the very important settings of privacy and location; shown on the right-hand picture.

 

First hand account from the class room

By Linda Karen Sørensen, stud. MA (Ed), and speaker, CfDP (former 10th grade teacher)

My meetings with young people on my school visits have only confirmed my believe that they are very informed about the digital field through informal use, being a well-integrated part of their youth and everyday lives. My experience is that young people, far down the road, are really good at navigating across faceless mosaics of social media. Together, they create social norms within the enviroments of which they take part, and they would like to look after each other in trusting friendships.

Young people are ashamed of negative attention from adults

A lot of young people articulate how they distance themselves from abusive and destructive behaviour on social media. I have heard so many young people state that they are ashamed of all the negative attention directed at their use of social media. They also express that they do not want to represent specific groups which display negative and abuse behaviour on eg. Snapchat and Facebook. Others have expressed insecurity and fear in relation to eg. not being able to decipher what “the correct behaviour” should be among their groups of friends on social media. They are afraid of opposing the majority. These are all nuances which paint a picture of what it is like to be a teenager in today’s society, and also how complex and often paradoxical the digital educational work is. At the same time, this is exactly what makes it so very interesting and important.

We have to grab on to the informal learning!

We are all co-creators of social media, and in a way sub-consciously dependent hereof, and at the same time we try to liberate ourselves and our young people from these same media. Right inbetween, we meet our most important peagogical work and the opportunity for digital education. Our keyword must be reflection. We must grab and use that which young people have informally learned, and give them the opportunity to extract quality and value from their informal learning, enriching them in their lives, through dialogue and debate. Social media hold vast resources and opportunities for a young person in the 21st century. Interacting on social media creates opportunities for young people to recognise that it is not just “me in the world” but it is “us”, among others, in the world. This is extremely important to the educational work of the school.

Turn on your curiosity, but give room

Social media today has great value to the relationsips that young people enter into across friends, family, and school. Like everything else, young people also meet challenges on social media. Sort of a downside, if you will. As adults and professionals, we must be bold and face such downside. We must be capable to enter into dialogue with our young people, and keep the door open for conversations that are not always easy. The task for adults working and interacting with young people, must be to turn on our curiosity, reflections, and the desire to understand. This is a balance which also entails giving room for young people to live their own teenage lives, to become adult and grown-up, independent human beings.

Following three inspiring months as a guest speaker with Centre for Digital Youth Care, I am now able to turn my attention and reflections toward my further theoretical work on my current MA (Ed) in General Education at the University of Aarhus, with new eyes and a much deeper understanding of pratice. However, all is changed, digital pedagogy has got me good!

Social Reality – Create your own emoji-troll

By Signe Sandfeld Hansen, M.Sc. in Psychology and counsellor, CfDP

We have now held 12 out of 20 workshops in youth clubs and schools across the country. All these places work with young “special-needs” people aged 12-16, particularly including people with ADHD, autism disorders, or other behavioural- or developmental disorders.

What are we doing at our workshops?

Each place receives two workshops where participants create their own emojis which focus on respectively positive and negative aspects of social media. In the first workshop young people make their own “Emoji-troll” which is sort of an image of the challenges they may encounter on social media – for instance, some people have depicted how they feel addicted to social media. The other workshop have people make their own interpretation of a so-called “Emoji-hero” which must symbolise what one can do about their challenges. For instance, in this case, some people have made drawings of a turned off mobile phone.

So far, young people have reacted positively toward the concept, and they have contributed plenty of well-thought inputs to what may be difficult, and what they believe may be done. The first workshop also offers help from one of the project’s role models who, themselves, experience cognitive challenges which have affected their behaviour on social media. The role model is an older young person (18+), who personally knows about dealing with challenges on social media, and who can assist young people to reflect on their behaviour online.

Addiction is a common feature

The main common feature has been the fact that a lot of young people feel almost addicted to social media in order to keep up with what others are doing, and keeping in touch with their friends. In return, they are aware that letting your mood, wardrobe, or opinion depend on how many likes such updates have received on Facebook, is not a healthy path.

Emojis created by young are people are filmed and finally put together in a short video, using that person’s voice as a soundtrack. They will describe what the emoji looks like and what it does.

Completed movie-clips are now available on cyberhus.dk/socialreality.

Experiences from our workshops will be used to develop a game about sound behaviour on social media which may help care-workers in their work. Would you like more information, please contact Signe Sandfeld Hansen @ signe@cfdp.dk.

Boy, girl, or non-binary? Cyberhus.dk has introduced a new gender identity

By Ida Ahlmann Østergaard, project worker, CfDP

The non-binary view on gender recognises gender as something more and something else than solely that of male and female, and a non-binary person may identify as both, neither, or something inbetween.

A request from young people

Niels-Christian Bilenberg, pedagogical coordinator responsible for CfDP’s online youth counselling, Cyberhus.dk, explains that a need for another gender identity on Cyberhus.dk came to his attention because of user-requests:

“Over some time, we have regularly been in contact with young people who have had the need to speak to a counsellor about the challenges of being born a certain sex, however feeling like the other, or something else. One day, a young person specifically wrote: “Why do you have to choose gender? I don’t think I fit any of them!”, and someone else wrote: “I’ve actually been wanting to use your chat but I haven’t been able to choose a gender I can identify with, so I ‘ve opted out” – this must feel completely wrong to someone, and so, I thought we should do something about that.”

Niels-Christian explains that such comments from young people kick-started the implementation of another gender identity on Cyberhus.dk, so that young people who feel like both, or neither, have the opportunity to choose a gender with which they can identify when they seek counselling on Cyberhus.dk.

One understanding of gender covering several gender identities

We have a broad range of gender identies and understandings of gender – in Great Britain, for instance, you can choose between 71 different genders when creating a profile on Facebook. Cyberhus.dk cannot host that many options of genders, so we had to choose one that covered all:

“With help from our young people, Cyberhus.dk has decided to use the non-binary understanding of identity, since this represents a kind of umbrella identity which may contain all,” explains Niels-Christian.

We must include everyone

Niels-christian expects that a great many young people may not know what it means to be non-binary. Fortunately, there is a simple solution:

“If our users do not know what it means to be non-binary, then we’ll take it from there and explain to them that some people experience being neither, and of course, we want to include all.”

Niels-Christian believes that in ten years time – at least, in Denmark – it will be perfectly natural that people have the opportunity to choose genders other than the classical male and female when having to state their gender.

We hope that the option of choosing between yet another gender on Cyberhus will be well received.

Young people are articulating their skills!

By Signe Sandfeld Hansen, M.Sc. in Psychology and counsellor, CfDP

Over the past months, almost 1500 young people have visited Cyberhus Courses, and although only 103 people have set up a user profile, it could indicate that young people do wish to articulate their qualifications – and, at the same time, receive a certificate documenting their skills.

Are you a Super-helper or Problem-solver?

At present, it is possible to take two different e-courses on Cyberhus Courses. The first one is called Superhjælper (Super Helper), and will take approximately 20 minutes to complete. This course will give insight into different types of help/assistance as well as being a provider of information on the features of our online youth counselling, Cyberhus.dk. The other one is called Problemknuser (Problem Solver) and will take approximately 60 minutes to complete. This course will give insight into various tools for problem- and conflict management, both on- and offline.

Learn more about Skills Connect: http://cfdp.dk/skills-connect-2/
Learn more about our e-couses: cfdp.dk/free-e-courses-for-vulnerable-young-people

The course of Problem solving is also provided as part of a qualifying half-day course where young people will have the opportunity to use their tools doing physical tasks. The course has been tested by 8 volunteers from Unge4Unge (Youth4Youth), who works to counsel, support, and foster integration among young people of other ethcnic backgrounds in the area of the Danish city, Aarhus.

Cyberhus Courses

The half-day course consisted of the 3 modules of the Problem solving course. Inbetween each module the acquired learning from the digital part of each module was “concretised”, and the young people had the opportunity to test their newly acquired skills within a safe setting. Finally, they digitally completed a short test after which they received their well-deserved diplomas.

If you would like to know more about Cyberhus Courses, please contact Signe Sandfeld Hansen @ signe@cfdp.dk

Closing of ENABLE

Well-being among young people

Working to tackle bullying and promote young people’s well-being, ENABLE has overall aimed to:

  • Foster young people’s socio-emotional development
  • Increase their awareness of their own behaviour in relation to others
  • Offer youth better channels of support

 
More specifically, ENABLE has assumed a holistic approach, producing resources for e.g. schools, such as SEL modules (Social and Emotional Learning), peer-support programs, online courses for teachers and parents, and training modules for professionals working with children and young people.

CfDP’s role in ENABLE

With our online youth counselling, Cyberhus, which is Danish helpline and part of the Insafe network, CfDP has mainly acted as a rolemodel to other helplines across Europe, and facilitated teaching webinars on ENABLE’s opportunities as well as our own use of the ENABLE concept. As consortium partner, we have collaborated on implementing ENABLE and been responsible for the Danish communication of the project.

Anti-bullying campaign

During the ENABLE project, Cyberhus dealt with the issue of bullying in a digital anti-bullying campaign. Cyberhus’ group chat operated as focal point in our dialogue with young people, and we based the topics of the group chat on ENABLE’s SEL modules. We had a good dialogue with our young people in which we especially focused on how bullying may be tackled by joint forces of both parents, youth, and professionals working with youth.

Facts & results

As a starting point, the goal of ENABLE was to roll out the program in 35 schools and reach 5,000 young people. In total, ENABLE has reached 15,738 pupils and 541 teachers in 119 schools, and has trained 300 peer supporters in the United Kingdom, Greece, and Croatia. In Denmark (CfDP), we mainly focused on training other helplines across Europe and reaching the more vulnerable young people. In total, we reached an estimated 4,000 young people.

Evaluation in partner countries

Comparing pre-assessment and post-assessment findings, United Kingdom, Greece, and Croatia found that the ENABLE approach and SEL modules used in schools are valuable in regards to promoting well-being in students, e.g.: pupils show better control of behaviour/ problem-solving with others, and are more likely to report bullying.

The website of ENABLE contains a number of resources for both teachers, parents/caretakers, and peer supporters.
 

Consortium partners of ENABLE

ENABLE Consortium partners @ the ENABLE 2 ACT conference

ENABLE 2 ACT conference

Recently, CfDP participated in ENABLE’s closing conference in Zagreb, 21-22 September, hosting 130 participants, both professionals, teachers, and young people from 19 different countries. In addition to speakings and panel discussions, the conference hosted an Exploratarium where participants would submit ideas and suggestions, through art and video, on how to tackle bullying. Also, the ENABLE challenge invited participants to submit their own anti-bullying ideas, and a World Café session gathered all participants in different teams, each having to present a roadmap on how to deal with certain themes, e.g., hate speech and development of empathy.

World Café session

World Café session, CfDP/Cyberhus team

Closing of ENABLE, however…

The ENABLE project has officially come to a close, but as Janice Richardson (ENABLE project manager, European Schoolnet) and the ENABLE team appropriately state:

“Although this update marks the end of the EC-co-funded ENABLE project, the consortium partners consider it just the start of an ongoing drive to promote the development of social and emotinoal skills of young people within a holistic approach […]”

As mentioned, interplay between parents, youth, and their surrounding environment/professionals makes a solid foundation for dealing with bullying. At CfDP and Cyberhus, we will make a continued effort to focus on bullying and give young people the opportunity to enter into dialogue, reflect and adopt their own positions.

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ENABLE 2 ACT conference

Experts, teachers, and youth from a number of different countries have come together at ENABLE 2 ACT to showcase and discuss the 2-year long work of ENABLE, and explore new ideas and initiatives to help prevent bullying and create better social interactions.

Along with a number of other countries, Denmark (CfDP) has been an active (and founding) member of ENABLE during these past two years, seeking to foster young people’s well-being in their social interactions, both on and offline, by

  • developing young people’s social and emotional skills
  • establishing peer support
  • applying a holistic approach engaging parents, teachers, young people, and the community at large

Press release

Below you will find an excerpt from the press release of the ENABLE 2 ACT conference, or you can also download the full press release.

Zagreb, Croatia; September 20, 2016 – Social and emotional skill development is showing far reaching results in the combat against bullying. Assessment results of the 2-year ENABLE project show that pupils having taken part in the ENABLE Social and Emotional Learning course are more likely to report aggressive behaviour, and that teachers have a deeper understanding of bullying and are better able to handle such incidents in class. Pupils show an increased value for self-control, understanding and differentiating their own emotions and those of others (empathy), and problem-solving. Teachers report a more friendly school climate in general, with more amicable peer relations and solidarity amongst students. These and other findings will be discussed in Zagreb this week, at the final conference of this EU funded project. Discussions will nevertheless be firmly focused on the future, with a number of countries including Hungary, Portugal, Italy and Cyprus also expressing interest in integrating ENABLE resources in their own schools.

 

Should you have any questions about ENABLE, please contact Niels-Kristian Bilenberg.

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Facebook – platform for breaking taboos on mental illness?

By Ida Ahlmann Østergaard. Recent MSc graduate in Media Studies, University of Aarhus & thesis author of “ Facebook som platform for aftabuisering af psykisk sygdom” (Facebook – platform for breaking taboos on mental illness).

With my thesis, Er du EN AF OS? En undersøgelse af Facebook som platform for aftabuisering af psykisk sygdom (Are you ONE OF US*? Research of Facebook as a platform for breaking taboos on mental illness), I have researched how the Facebook page of Danish nation-wide de-tabooing campaign ONE OF US, is perceived and used by people who have liked their page. With my research, I wanted to identify the nuances arising when you want people to talk about a taboo subject, such as mental illness, on Facebook. Do people wish to involve themselves (liking,commenting, and sharing) with content dealing with mental illness on Facebook, when mental illness is already a taboo subject in our offline world? The conclusion of my thesis is that people did not wish to do so, and so, Facebook as a platform for breaking taboos on mental illness is not effective in connection to the Facebook page of ONE OF US/campaign. This could be explained by a variety of reasons.

Facebook is context collapsed

One of the reasons that a Facebook page, such as ONE OF US, does not work effectively as part of a de-tabooing campaign is due to a so-called context collapse. Content collapse happens when different roles and contexts are mixed together. Most people take part in many different social contexts and social relations on Facebook. Therefore, a very complex situation of communication emerges which makes it difficult for Facebook users to choose a form of communication suiting all of their Facebook friends.

My research showed that several informants, generally, feel inhibited by lacking an overall view of the many different contexts they are entering on Facebook. For this reason, they rarely engage themselves with content on Facebook. So, this general tendency has a big influence on the informants’ commitment on the facebook page of ONE OF US. ONE OF US would like their users to involve themselves with the content on their Facebook page, however, informants opt out due to the overwhelming situation of communication. Informants are very attentive to what their Facebook friends may think of the content they share, which generally makes informants share only, for instance, joyful life events; content undoubtedly prone to positive response. Should they share content dealing with mental illness, they fear having to defend such content, and finding themselves in an unwanted discussion. Apparently, informants had liked the Facebook page of ONE OF US in order to show their support of the campaign, not in order to engage in its content. Instead, informants would be more inclined to speak about mental illness in a situation offline, being able to interact face-to-face with the recipient and, thus, knowing the context and having an overview of the situation of communication.

Mental illness and online identity

Another reason why Facebook is not working effectively as a platform for breaking taboos on mental illness is the fact Facebook is highly used as a tool for establishing and developing online identities. Therefore, informants are very reflective regarding how they present themselves and alert to which significance their representation bears on their online identity. As it turns out, the majority of informants opt out of engaging with content on Facebook, dealing with mental illness, because they do not want mental illness to be part of their online identity. They do not perceive mental illness to be a particularly big part of their offline identity, and so, it should not be part of their online identity.

Are you ONE OF US?

With my thesis, I also research how informants perceive the community of the Facebook page of ONE OF US. With their campaign, ONE OF US aims to establish a community and create a sense of a ‘unified us.’ One of my sub-conclusions in my thesis argues that this goal has not been met because what is, to a greater extent, established, is a dichotomy between ‘us’ and ‘them’ since several informants do not identify with the content shared by the ONE OF US Facebook page. Despite being impacted by mental illness themselves, or being a relative to someone with a mental illness, several informants do not feel a sense of community on ONE OF US’ Facebook page. I believe this is very unfortunate because you risk creating an even greater divide between us and them.

De-tabooing campaigns on Facebook is a fickle matter

Above-mentioned points testify that it is a challenge to organise a campaign on Facebook dedicated to breaking taboos. However, despite my conclusion, I do not believe that Facebook is an inapplicable tool in connection to de-tabooing campaigns. Facebook appeals broadly, so there is potential to reach quite a few Danes. However, in order to successfully establish a de-tabooing campaign on Facebook, I believe it is necessary to have a number of varied and updated insights into how users actually act on Facebook, along with their motives. This way, the fight on breaking taboos concerning mental illness on a social networking site, such as Facebook, may hopefully be strengthened.

In this post, I have chosen to highlight a couple of sub-conclusions from my research. The basis of my overall conclusion includes more sub-conclusions which each contributes to clarify the results of my research. These are available in my thesis (in Danish).

The empirical foundation of my thesis includes five individual interviews and a focus group interview. Informants are either people who has got a mental illness, or people who are relative to someone with a mental illness.

Digital Communities of Practice

By Signe Sandfeld Hansen, M.Sc. in Psychology and counsellor, CfDP

Meeting young people at digital eye level

Cyberhus.dk is continually organising different campaigns focusing on a particular theme. Most of our campaigns primarily use the following Cyberhus features: ‘blogs’, ‘group chat’, ‘secrets’, and ‘articles’. Also, ‘forum’ becomes a space where young people may begin, or continue, a debate without the involvement from the counselling team at Cyberhus. Out of Cyberhus’ four primary features, ‘group chat’ plays the biggest part in our communication with youth during a campaign.

Group chat as a learning environment

Overall, the aim of our anti-bullying campaign included communicating information on bullying, creating a reflective dialogue with young people, and articulating relevant human processes often brought on by bullying. Thus, succeeding with the campaign entailed that young people should learn more about the subject, themselves, and others, both in regards to strengthening their empathy, and reflecting on their emotions, thoughts, and behaviour. According to social learning theory, learning is created between people when they enter into so-called communities of practice (Etíenne Wenger: Communities of Practice, 1998). This way, learning is a social act or a social process unfolding in a dynamic, joint interaction with other people. Our article, discussing the campaign, argues that Cyberhus’ group chat may be considered a community of practice, giving room for social and emotional learning – which means that the campaign then offers formal as well as informal learning.

Formal and informal learning

The features of ‘articles’ and ‘blogs’ were used as structured media of communication, specifically intending to promote information on bullying. This, among others, includes Cyberhus’ articles on definitions of various types of bullying, what you can do, and accompanying emotions, as well as blog posts presenting questions of reflection, aiming to promote young people’s thought processes on the issue of bullying.

Informal learning showed itself in the feature of ‘group chat’ when Cyberhus’ young people did well in moderating each other and letting others know if their boundaries were breached. This way, they expressed what did want or did not want in a social context. Also, ‘group chat’ presents a space in which young people are taken seriously. A lot of young people who visit Cyberhus have few to no experiences of being taken seriously – both by other young people and adults. So, they often experience a growing insecurity regarding their faith in their own emotions and thoughts. Creating a community where youth actually feel they have something to offer, and are met as such, may lead young people to gain a stronger sense of value. It may also mean that young people learn how to articulate their inner reality, and communicate this reality to others in a sound manner. It may even mean that someone, more so, value their opinion or emotion to be important the next time issues of bullying is up for discussion at home or at school – and perhaps, more young people will begin put their foot down when it comes to bullying.

Various opportunities of the campaign

The form and design of the campaign provide opportunities for young people to speak to each other across age, and geographical location. They may share thoughts, emotions, and experiences in the safety of the anonymity offered by Cyberhus. Often, it gives rise to more varied conversations, making room for people’s many-varied attitudes and opinions. Forward-looking, it would be interesting to examine the effect of Cyberhus’ group chat as a community of practice, degrees of formal and informal learning, and how a future campaign may focus its content – of any theme – in order to optimise both forms of learning.

Learn more about ENABLE.

Learn more about our campaign on bullying.

Please direct any questions, or inquiries of becoming a collaborator on a campaign, to Signe @ signe@cfdp.dk, +0045 60137053.

The first year of Code Club in Denmark

By Anne Kathrine Kolby, project coordinator, Code Club.

Codeclub logoDuring the first year of Code Club, we organised six Code Club courses at five different schools. We collaborated with teachers, schools, IT-instructors, businesses, fonds, volunteers, lecturers, and students of social care. We have now gathered and evaluated our many positive experiences, so that we may continue to develop Code Club the best way possible. Here, you can read about our experiences.

During autumn 2015 until spring 2016, Code Club Denmark was run as a pilot project. Five different schools managed six courses reaching a total of 80 students. The Code Club project was funded by IBM Denmark, Brødrene Hartmanns Foundation, Familien Hede Nielsens Foundation as well as teachers and students of VIA University College, Social Education. We have acquired very positive experiences implementing Code Club teaching in elementary schools, and it has been very positive indeed to meet such great support from teachers, students, and not least students and teachers from VIA University College, Social Education, in the city of Aarhus.

Teachers

Our experiences from our pilot project show that Code Club creates dialogue and learning between children and youth, and their teachers, regarding IT, coding, and digital behaviour. Code Club has proved useful in providing skills upgrading of teachers and management in our select schools. The schools were eager to implement Code Club in their teaching in which they saw many professional advantages.

Students

Code Club

Code Club at the school of Kragelund.

Elementary school students, participating in Code Club, showed great interest and commitment in their implementation of Code Club tasks, and with involving themselves in dialogue about the use of IT and media. Our five different schools set up Code Club in e.g., Danish and math lessons.

One of the Code Club courses took place in a special class whose purpose was to present the students with a different way to learn and motivate. This proved a great success, and opened the teachers’ eyes to new possibilities for including particularly vulnerable and literary challenged young people in their teaching.

Volunteers

The Code Club project challenged several different models for including volunteers. First of all, it proved time-consuming coordinating the work schedule of our many volunteers. Also, it was challenging to enlist Code Club volunteers at all due to the fact that Code Club teaching is scheduled in the daytime during weekdays.

Students of social education at the school of Katrinebjerg.

Students of social education at the school of Katrinebjerg.

However, we do regard volunteers a relevant component to Code Club as they comprise solid and committed aid that may carry Code Club forward and greatly motivate teachers as well as students. Our most successful model for including volunteers- a model which will also be our recommendation for future Code Clubs in Denmark – was our collaboration with University College VIA, Social Education, in the city of Aarhus.

11 students from University College VIA’s elective module “Media and digital culture” participated as volunteer teachers of Code Club. Involving VIA students – professionally qualified to set up a pedagogical framework for children and also to create interesting media-related teaching – was incredibly constructive and inspiring. Furthermore, we needed only coordinate our contact with our 11 volunteers through one lecturer at University College VIA, Social Education, which made coordination much easier. Another benefit by including students of social education was a case of upskilling. By teaching Code Club, students acquired insight into how coding may be incorporated in a professional context, and technically they increased their skill levels through their work with elementary school students and through their understanding of Code Club tasks.

Challenges

The coordinated effort between schools, collaborators and volunteers is time-consuming. A lot of dates and schedules must work together, and coordinating and planning, for instance meetings and schedules dedicated to Code Club, has proven to be a longer process. So, it is of utmost importance that one enters into an early dialogue with schools and students, in order that time is set aside for planning, and thus creating the best foundation possible for organising Code Club courses. Among others, it is important that students of social education have the opportunity to meet with teachers of a given elementary school before launching Code Club, so that expectations to how Code Club should be implemented, may be matched.

At some schools, it has been challenging and time-consuming to motivate and commit teachers to teach Code Club. At the same time, on most schools we experienced a great interest in coding becoming part of teaching. Though, we also saw a good amount of insecurity and lack of IT-skills with teachers.

Recommendations

Code Club at the school of Beder

Code Club at the school of Beder

As part of our pilot project objectives, we have gathered our experiences on Code Club’s (Danish) website. Teachers, interested in Code Club, will find experiences from our pilot project, teaching material, and an introduction to how someone, as a teacher, may start running Code Club. Code Club has proven to be a sustainable model which may be rolled out by anyone who is interested.

However, from our experience speaking to teachers, there is still a good way to go before teachers, themselves, and their managers, venture into using coding as a natural part of teaching. We have set up the frameworks so that Code Club potentially may be rolled out to all elementary schools in Denmark, but teachers need help and support to be able to include coding in their various courses, such as Danish, math, and science, along with actually implementing coding in their teaching. Therefore, we are recommending an upscale of the pilot project to consist of a national initiative, running for the next three years, qualifying teachers and students to use coding in their teaching. A close collaboration between elementary schools, teacher educations, social educations, and other initiatives within the field, including project Coding Class of The Danish IT Industry Association which aims to research and document coding in elementary schools.

With regards to an upscale model, we recommend that resources are set aside to measure the effect of Code Club teaching including what, and how much, students have learned from participating in Code Club.

Learn more our experiences from Code Club’s first year in Denmark in Centre for Digital Youth Care’s compilation (in Danish).

Together, we can make a difference – on Facebook, too

Since 2009, Centre for Digital Youth Care (CfDP) has been appointed national Helpline in Denmark, being one of 31 national Helplines in Europe, and CfDP is also an active partner of Safer Internet Centre Denmark. Europe’s 31 Helplines are part of Insafe which, in short, is an European network of Helplines, Hotlines, and Information centres. The aim of Insafe is to empower young people to use the internet positively and safely, and at the same time, protect their rights and needs. Insafe is co-funded by Safer Internet Programme.

Purpose and work tasks of the Danish Helpline

Our daily work, as Helpline, primarily consists of answering questions and concerns from young people – and their parents – about their experiences online. Inquiries may also include issues about harmful or illegal content young people encounter online. We work from our youth platform Cyberhus.dk as well as through professional communication on www.cfdp.dk. Both platforms provide opportunities for chat counselling and direct dialogue with professionals. Our Helpline work is in perfect keeping with Centre for Digital Youth Care’s overall aim to help, particularly, vulnerable children and young people.

Another important aspect is the fact that the network creates the opportunity to work with big social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Ask.fm. This means that, together with Europe’s other 30 Helplines, we participate in establishing the agenda for safety on social media in particular.

Our meeting with Facebook

Most recently, the network of Helplines has conducted a meeting with a representative from Facebook, discussing the safety of this platform and their current procedures. Facebook has a vast number of users, and this naturally gives rise to the unfolding of various issues. Facebook already focuses on this aspect, and over the years, they have devised a number of key policies on nudity, human trafficking, hate speech, and much more. Also, they continually roll out new initiatives – at present time, they are working on suicide prevention and think-before-you-share campaigns.

At our meeting, we got the opportunity to ask some of the questions that worry young people and their parents, as experienced on our Helpline, and we put forward their reflections on the safety of Facebook. Among others, we asked the representative from Facebook whether parents can easily report any issues if pictures of their children are shared inappropriately. On this issue, Facebook refers to their function of ‘Privacy Rights – Photo Removal Request’ – promising that they will process reports quickly, and act if necessary.

Greater security in the future

The fact that it is possible to enter into direct dialogue with, for example Facebook, is very positive indeed. The big social platforms are large international corporations, and dialogue may be difficult, especially as private individuals or minor organisations. The value of our international collaboration in Insafe, as Helpline, is therefore apparent to us. As a network of Helplines, we have more leverage. People listen, and we participate in creating reflection, and the big corporations show interest in collaborating with us. This helps create results, and together we are able to increase the security online.

Are you interested in learning more about which areas and issues people inquire about and who address us? Then, please visit Insafe’s Better Internet for Kids.

About Safer Internet Centre Denmark

Safer Internet Centre Denmark is a collaboration between The Media Council for Children and Young People, Centre for Digital Youth Care, and Save the Children Denmark. The Media Council is a national information centre focusing on children and young people’s use of digital and social media. Centre for Digital Youth Care runs the national Danish helpline which is a digital counselling platform where children and young people can receive anonymous counselling. Finally, Save the Children Denmark is responsible for the national Danish hotline which handles reports of online material containing sexual child abuse.

The digital reality of children and young people in 2016

Since 2009, Centre for Digital Youth Care has been part of SIC providing a hotline as well as a helpline, and carrying out surveys, campaigns, teaching material, and other publications concerning children and young people’s digital well-being which may contribute to support adults in managing their role as advisors.

About Safer Internet Centre Denmark

SIC consists of the following organisations; The Media Council for Children and Young People, Centre for Digital Youth Care, and Save the Children Denmark. The Media Council is a national information centre focusing on children and young people’s use of digital and social media. Centre for Digital Youth Care runs the national Danish helpline which is a digital counselling platform where children and young people can receive anonymous counselling. Finally, Save the Children Denmark is responsible for the national Danish hotline which handles reports of online sexual child abuse material. SIC is supported by the European Commission under the programme Connecting Europe Facility.

Learn more about the national Danish helpline, and all of the helplines in Europe – and see statistics on which issues children and young people address.

Connecting Europe Facility
New children’s Think Tank to ensure safe online behaviour

By Anni Marquard, Head of centre, CfDP

Adults worry about children’s online lives

Today, most children use our many options for communicating, and sharing pictures and movies online. Life online does not quite follow the same rules as is present in the physical world. Privacy and consent receive very significant meanings which children are not familiar with.

Also, adults worry about the digital lives of their children. They feel unapt to stay updated, and in many cases they do not know how to handle problems that arise when a child, for example, experience having an intimate picture shared. Both children and adults need help. Therefore, Save the Children Denmark and Telia are setting up a Children’s/Youth Think Tank to ensure safe online behaviour.

– We need to involve the children. We must enter into dialogue, listen and understand their needs and concerns. What do they perceive as challenges? Children themselves must provide good advice and recommendations regarding how adults can better protect their children and guide them through the roads and detours of the internet, says Jonas Keiding Lindholm, general secretary of Save the Children Denmark.

Children and adults must take a stance

The Think Tank will consist of 10 children and young people between the ages of 12-18, socio-economically, geographically, and ethnically diversified. The Think Tank is run by Save the Children Denmark in collaboration with The Media Council for Children and Young People, Centre for Digital Youth Care, and ENIGMA. The Think Tanks is sponsored by Telia who view their role of working with children’s digital behaviour as very important.

– At Telia, we would like to contribute to a safer digital life for children and young people. Typically, children get their first cell phone when they are 8-9 years old. Having a cell phone entails a brand new world which children and their parents should consider and talk about. Therefore, we are really pleased to be able to support a project that gives children a voice concerning the debate on digital well-being, and which helps children and parents alike to lead a safer life online, says Mette Honoré, Head of communications with Telia.

At last year’s People’s Political Festival, Søren Pind, Minister of justice, Jonas Keiding Lindholm, general secretary of Save the Children Denmark, and Jane Sandberg, director of ENIGMA, participated in Telia’s discussion dealing with children’s digital lives. The initial goal involves that the Think Tank presents and entrusts their recommendations on children’s life online to relevant ministers at next year’s People’s Political Festival.

Background

Purpose of the Think Tank:

•    Devising notes of recommendations to politicians, parents, professionals, children and young people
•    Providing recommendations for adults so that they may positively contribute to the online behaviour of children and young people
•    Creating a debate on the online behaviour of children and young people so that they may become more aware of their own online behaviour
•    Developing activities contributing to safer online behaviour among children and young people, through the school service of ENIGMA
•    Identifying any deficiencies in Denmark’s present relevant legislation
•    Providing practical suggestions of how schools may treat the subject

Facts

In Denmark, a lot of children already begin their active online lives from the ages of 8-9. In order to ensure that children below the ages of 12 also receive a voice in the debate, the Children’s/Youth Think Tank will interview and include younger children.

The Think Tank corps will be trained to communicate their messages on various levels, and they will be supported to receive input for the discussions among other children and young people, and experts from Save the Children Denmark.

The Think Tank will continually have different people of resources associated who are able to provide input on which subjects and themes the Think Tank would like to put on the agenda.

The Think Tanks is run by Save the Children Denmark in collaboration with The Media Council for Children and Young People, Centre for Digital Youth Care, and ENIGMA – Museum of Communication.

New grant to help increase the inclusion of non-ethnic Danes

By Anni Marquard, Head of centre, CfDP

The grant is targeted towards the voices of non-ethnic young Danes

Therefore, we are extra pleased that the municipality of Aarhus has recently granted funds, via their “Participant budgets and prevention of online radicalisation”, helping us to further develop and support inclusive work. Our work towards creating further inclusion and community among non-ethnic Danes will unfold on Cyberhus.dk as well as on Mitassist.dk – both counsellings are managed by Centre for Digital Youth Care.

The grant is allocated from the municipality of Aarhus’ pool, “Participant budgets and prevention of online radicalisation” – part of an anti-radicalisation strategy of the municipality of Aarhus. The strategy of this pool is to prevent radicalisation through several citizen-driven initiatives. It is important to emphasise that we focus on very early prevention rather than specific anti-radicalisation efforts.

Centre for Digital Youth Care has applied for funds from the above mentioned pool with an aim to include more young people of different cultural backgrounds and also, giving non-ethnic Danes a voice on equal terms with other young people in Denmark. We would very much like to start a good few stories and debates on what it is like to be a young person in Denmark – regardless of whether someone is an ethnic Dane or a non-ethnic Dane. The focal point is that young people share stories which other young people may know from their own personal lives. It is important that they speak freely, and Cyberhus is able to provide an encompassing space within its pedagogical framework.

Everyday images of love

The grant is targeted at young people who will be blogging on the counselling sites, Cyberhus.dk and Mitassist.dk. They will communicate with other young people about how they live their lives in Denmark, for better or worse. They are not (!) to appear as someone who speaks against radicalisation. They are not (!) to be selected from the crowd and appointed as non-ethnic Danes because exactly this would exclude them from the community in which we seek to include them. Rather, they are just to be ordinary young people on equal terms with other young people who share their lives on Cyberhus. It is about everyday images of love, education, and other issues prevalent to young people.

Distortion in the media creates exclusion

Along with the inclusion of young people, Centre for Digital Youth Care notices another important aspect of the project which is the importance of creating counter-narratives on the many negative stories present in the press and on social media. To Centre for Digital Youth Care it is crucial for inclusion that young people are able to find positive stories when they google the internet. At the time of writing, there are many stories on xenophobic people and poor integration. Reality is different.

A big percentage of non-ethnic Danes do very well, and xenophobic people are a minority, however, young people may not always be able to locate these stories, and with this project, we would like to make an effort to change that. The distortion on various social media contributes to exclude young people from the community, and this has to change.

Disquieting tendency – let us, instead, create a democratic debate

At Centre for Digital Youth Care, we worry about a tendency to highlight the negative stories on the subject of non-ethnic Danes, both with the press and as private individuals. Often, radical opinions on non-ethnic Danes are voiced, while others are not heard. This contributes to create a distortion of reality, and therefore, the democratic debate is under pressure.

The referral of this project in the press represents such an example. In their approach of the news of our allocated funds, the press has extracted that we intend to combat extremism and radicalisation. However, this is not the message and purpose of this project – and pool.

With this project and pool, we merely wish to work on creating inclusion and collaboration across gender, religion and age by letting young people share their positive stories. Also, we hope that those stories may challenge the negative ones…no more, no less. This nuance is not mentioned in the press, but fortunately we have our own voice on this blog. The same goes for our young people on Cyberhus and Mitassist..non-ethnic Dane, or not.

Free E-courses for vulnerable young people

By Signe Sandfeld Hansen, M.Sc. in Psychology and counsellor, CfDP

The certificate is represented by a diploma and a digital badge which young people may use when they are entering the job market. The project has resulted in an expansion of Cyberhus with a new section dedicated to E-courses: Cyberhus Courses.

Reflection on one’s own abilities

During the project’s start-up phase, the project held a collaborative workshop inviting a handful of young people and a number of various relevant people from the job market, including a representative from Job Centre Aarhus, and a young entrepreneur. The workshop set out to explore which skills would be interesting to elaborate on. Young participants, as well as the workshop’s professional representatives, contributed with a lot of interesting reflections on which skills an employer pays attention to and which skills may be difficult to communicate to an employer. Read more about our collaborative workshop. In continuation of our workshop, we decided to proceed with two courses: Super Helper and Problem Solver.

Super Helper and Problem Solver

The two courses are based on the experiences of The Mix, and employs an interactive view on learning. That is, the courses consist partly of text which the participant has to read and small tasks they have to solve. Everything is built on the pedagogical idea that the courses should be equally accessible to young people who are job ready, or school ready, and who experience challenges, either at school or in connection to their job search. In this context, it is possible to have longer text passages read aloud.

The Super Helper course is based on a person’s participation on Cyberhus.dk, for instance writing a comment, giving a like, or participating in Cyberhus’ group chat; actions that may prove to be a big help for other young people. We argue that young people’s participation on Cyberhus.dk, in a lot of ways, contains many of the same qualifications present in voluntary work, even though online activity may be less visible. So, the aim of the course is to strengthen young people’s understanding of how they are already making a difference for other young people. The Super Helper course consists of 1 module, and it takes approximately 20 minutes to complete.

The Problem Solver course focuses on giving young people a set of tools that may assist them in strengthening their abilities to solve problems. New (perhaps) concepts will be introduced, such as being proactive and reactive, meanwhile focusing on people’s success stories. The Problem Solver course consists of 3 modules, each taking approximately 15-20 minutes to complete. Finally, the participant will have to complete a multiple choice test, answering questions based on different cases which the participant may know from daily life.

 

Relevant for young people in your life?

Taking a course through Cyberhus Courses is free, and it addresses all young people who would like to put their participation on Cyberhus, or their abilities for problem solving, into words.

Please find Cyberhus Courses on: kurser.cyberhus.dk (in Danish)

If you have any questions or would like to receive a guided tour in Cyberhus Courses, please email project manager Signe Sandfeld Hansen @ signe@cfdp.dk.

See article Are you empathetic? Prove it! to learn more about the first part of the development process of Skills Connect.

Digital Education becomes focus towards 2020

By Anni Marquard, Head of centre, CfDP

Collaboration with organisations

The Danish Minister for Children, Education and Gender Equality, Ellen Trane Nørby, states in a press release that 6 million DKK is devoted to an initiative to be determined in collaboration with information organisations in Denmark. Naturally, we warmly embrace this. Along with a number of other actors in the area, Centre for Digital Youth Care can draw on solid experiences as to which thematics are relevant for specific years. We would love to share these experiences.

“With the joint digitisation strategy, more than 6 million DKK is earmarked for a focused initiative aiming to strengthen the digital education of children and young people in day care facilities, elementary schools, and youth educations. The initiative will include the work of external organisations. Also, among others, information campaigns will be arranged, and teaching materials for schools will be produced.”

We must remember the youngest

Centre for Digital Youth Care would like to see preventative initiatives. It would be obvious to use the cases of these past 6 months, concerning nude pictures among especially students in youth educations, to conclude that initiatives must target the eldest youths. However, critical, self-reflective knowledge does not just happen. It must be employed as an ongoing effort through childhood and youth. This, partly, is also supported by the initiative:

“Children’s digital learning and education begin in the day care centres and continue with them through the educational system. [..] Children and young people from the digital generation must be equipped with digital education and skills necessary in order to be able to navigate a digital world ..”

p. 55

From our experience, inquires regarding initiatives with the youngest students occupy people’s issues of concern more now than ever. Parents and schools increasingly contact us and inquire that the youngest students should receive education, and insight into what it means to be together digitally. You cannot discuss issues of nude pictures in the 2nd year, but you can begin to establish an initial ethics on privacy, images, and videos that may serve as a foundation for future thematics.

Throughout school life

“Children and young people must develop digital skills and education, so that they, from an early age, become equipped to navigate our digital reality. [..] Teaching programs and material for senior students in elementary schools and youth educations should help provide students practical, digital skills, equipping them to interact digitally in society.”

p. 57

It may be difficult to interpret the very general formulations of this strategy; but our understanding is that the aim is to strengthen the general digital education throughout school life as well as strengthening students’ “digital skills” within the lower secondary education. This makes sense. However, when you mix common education and skills, we do have to remember that teachers and professionals must feel well equipped to handle both aspects. Centre for Digital Youth Care meet a great number of teachers who find it difficult to teach digital education, because this requires that someone is greatly knowledgeable about existing digital communities and digital youth culture.

Also, we experience a huge need to activate the parents. Today, children’s digital lives cross all borders. Conflicts on digital media is a parent-problem as well as a school-problem. Strategies on how to maintain parents’ interest in the digital lives of their children should be part of an overall initiative regarding digital education.

Think broadly

Over these past 10 years, we have taught digital education to students in elementary schools. In a lot of ways, the themes we meet are identical to the ones addressed 10 years ago. Children do “logon” earlier than before, and the technology pushes today’s challenges in a more visual direction. Still, our task of creating a sense of community and reflection on life on- and with- social and digital media, is constant in many ways.

At Centre for Digital Youth Care, we hope that the strategy for working with digital education will embrace broadly. We have already participated in a number of meetings in the Ministry for Children, Education and Gender Equality – and we would be pleased to further contribute information and suggestions concerning the digital, educational journey of children, young people, and their adults.

Youth and nude photos – what’s what

By Jonas Ravn, speaker and project manager, CfDP

Everybody does it!

Well, is it so?

A few years back, an SSP worker (collaboration between schools, social services and police aiming to prevent crime among children and young people) from Northern Jutland did a research on 8th form children in the municipality of Jammerbugten. The study showed that close to ⅓ of the students had experienced receiving a nude picture. Although this is quite a discomforting number, we know from experience that there’s a big difference between receiving and re-sharing nude pictures. Far less reshare pictures – and thank god, because in many cases this is where the real violation begins. The Youth Profile Survey, among lower secondary students, shows that 6,6% have shared material of themselves.

The number of young people in 7-9th form, across the country, who have tried to share nude material of others, is 3,7%, which is a number that is still far too high. This is where we must absolutely act because this field exhibits the most devastating experiences and harbours legal consequences that become very serious.

The biggest hurdle is figuring out whether young people are ‘using’ or ‘abusing’ nude pictures and videos. If someone is over the age of 15, two people can consent to sharing pictures confidentially. It is important that we do not blame those who share, but instead, we open a debate on risks. It’s been stated that a nude picture today resembles what was previously a love letter. I would like to support this analogy because we do have to understand the phenomena of nude pictures from the premise of youth. However, worst case scenario by sharing a nude picture far exceeds the risk of sharing a love letter. A page is not burnt in cyberspace. We still have to discuss this point with young people.

I have latched onto a quote from a young girl who was cited by Politiken (Danish national newspaper, ed.) last weekend:

“Among us girls, we talk about whom we’re interested in and what you can do to create some sort of interest. And when pictures are sent, they are usually distributed very broadly – not just to your boyfriend. And then they land in the hands of boys who don’t feel emotionally attached to the girl on a particular picture. So, there’s a lack of guilt associated with resharing something. Boys love it. Girls love the attention. Nobody feels bad for anyone. A lot of us play this game,” A says.

The above quote clearly shows how complex it is to place the responsibility. Particularly among youth themselves. Therefore, it is relevant to upgrade the discussion with young people about this sort of behaviour, and this should be done in a manner that articulates the culture without placing the guilt with well-meaning victims who have shared a picture or a video in confidence and in good faith.

Majority of misconceptions?

When we teach online use, we especially touch on the subject of majority of misconceptions, and that which you could call an improper seal of approval of a problematic behaviour. This could relate to e.g. last years’ numerous cases of bullying on Ask.fm, and gossip- and hate pages on different social platforms. Here, we observe that young people are more inclined to participate in a behaviour of bullying if one or more people from their social circle already participate in, or approve, that behaviour.

This is logical. I have seen a lot of examples where all of the students in a particular year were following an Instagram hate-profile targeting another student – for the reason only that everybody else did it. It would be reasonable to assume that the same logic is applicable to nude pictures. If you have repeatedly experienced hearing of/looking at examples of nude pictures among peers, perhaps it would be natural for people to get an idea that everybody does it, and also that you should do it yourself in order to ‘be part of the crowd.’

The issue of majority of misconceptions may vary across the country. Although we SURELY notice a rise of inquiries from school and parents in which nude pictures and videos are part of a conflict, it would be unfair to place all youth in one and the same group.

The debate has a positive effect

These days, where we witness journalists all over the country tracking stories and reporting them as testimonials of ordinary youth, it is relevant to remember that most young people have a balanced life integrating a fine, moral compass. I meet SO many reflective young people who would just like to USE the many digital opportunities as part of their youth – particularly as part of their play with sexuality. We have to give them credit for that.

Even though the media storm of these past few weeks have exhibited a few good young people through very specific cases, I can already tell, from my school visits, that the awareness of youth culture, the specific stories, and their consequences have made their impact among young people. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a number of disheartening cases before we collectively direct our focus and change the kind of behaviours that are problematic.

What happens when the chat is over?

Who knows what happens when the door to some virtual room is closed?
When I sit down in front of the screen as a counsellor, it’s always with an intent to create a safe and trusting environment that might help youth find the courage and desire to share their story; Sharing something, perhaps previously unshared, and letting go of emotions that may have turned into a big knot in the stomach. My hope is also that my counselling is not merely words on a screen that disappear when the chat session is over. But who knows that happens when the door to the virtual room is closed?

If only my arms could reach through the screen
The not-knowing what happens when the chat session is finished, and the acceptance of not being able to follow up on a particular youth, is a condition with which I have grown to reconcile. Sort of. During my 1½ years as a chat counsellor, a lot of young people have imprinted on my mind and taken my breath away with their stories in such a way, that I’ve often wished that I could reach my arms though the screen and remove someone from an incomprehensible reality.
Even though I have adjusted to the fact that care and safety can be created through language, there are days I feel that it’s just not enough. I want out of cyberspace and meet our youth IRL:

Secrets are shared for the first time in the chatroom
A 14-year-old girl logs onto the chatroom a friday afternoon. She is new to Cyberhus and is a bit careful in the beginning, but gradually she shares her story that she is molested by her father whom she lives with by herself. This is the first time she lets anyone know about ‘their secret,’ so as a starting point we ‘just’ talk. Although I’m becoming an ‘old stager,’ it is the first time I meet someone who’s been a victim of sexual abuse – and her story leaves an immense impression. I am quickly filled with a strong urge to trespass our rules of anonymity, leave directly for the girl’s home, and get her away from her father. Of course, I suppress this urge and instead I try to create a safe and trusting room, hoping that she may feel like stopping by again, and maybe, down the road, feel ready to act. I have to respect the fact that she very likely still cares for her father even though he hurts her.

With a pounding heart and sweaty palms – we must act
However, the chat takes a sudden turn when the girl tells us that the abuse takes place practically everyday, and the father often invites his friends over at night to get wasted and ‘do stuff’ to her. The paid pedagogical employee, who is coordinator this friday, has followed this chat session from the sideline, and together we assess that it is insufficient just to talk to the girl about how she feels, because her life may be in danger. Action is needed. The next 45 minutes feel like an eternity. My heart is pounding, and my palms are sweaty, as the girl calls her teacher and explains her situation at home. I try to calm her while we wait for her teacher to come pick her up, and we are so fearful that her father may return home. The time seems endless, and I cannot do anything but hope that the teacher actually shows up, and that the girl’s father has touched her for the last time. I don’t want to let go, but I have to let her finish our chat so that she can get away from the house. I compliment her for her courage, and let her know that she is doing the right thing. And then, she’s gone…

It makes darn good sense!
I’m left with a feeling of having left the cinema during the climax of the picture without knowing whether the ending is happy. Unresolved, and at the same time, filled with a feeling of meaningfulness. I guess I will never know whether or not the teacher showed up and the 14-year-old girl got away from her father, but I do know that I helped create a room that gave her courage to speak up and take the first steps toward a better life. And that makes darn good sense!

Digital counselling for teenageboys is blooming!

By Karina Lange, communicator, CfDP

TUBA and Cyberhus each has their own counselling for vulnerable children and young people. Both organisations have a good connection with girls to whom their counselling platform unconsciously have appealed to the most. Therefore, they have been wanting to connect with teenage boys between the ages of 13-20, since only few representants of this group seek help with life’s difficult problems. This has now come to fruition via a new counselling platform called MitAssist (MyAssist).

Boys are ranked in a point system

The new platform is built on the concept of gamification where people give each other assists, and someone’s help to others is then ranked in a point system. Counsellor and coordinator, Niels-Christian Bilenberg from Centre for Digital Youth Care says, “the effect is reinforcing. Others may also be inspired by those ‘higher-ranked’ – then, they might increase their own rank. […] It’s of value to those who leave a reply. You receive recognition for the energy you put in, and that’s of value to some of our boys. They’d like a rank position on our site, when they invest their time.”

This is an example of a an active user on MitAssist. You can see username, image, age, and rank in the point system

This is an example of a an active user on MitAssist. You can see username, image, age, and rank in the point system.

Community and coaches with personality

On MitAssist, there’s also a mixed troop of counsellors. Not just professionals, e.g., psychologists, caretakers, teachers, and social workers. Rather, boys would like to talk to people who has got similar life experiences. Everyone, coaches and youth, have their own user profile on MitAssist, so everyone has an identity and their own unique story to share. Everyone unfolds their own personality, and as such, users get to know each other, and they may discover similarities with other people. This has created a platform where primarily young people help each other, which bonds them together in a community of tolerance and a helping hand. Counsellors are often present in the background, and only contributes if someone asks.

This, in particular, appeals to teenage boys who are both involved, active and very caring with each other. “It’s been a very positive experience, and not characterised by extremely short and precise answers that we actually anticipated,” explains Niels-Christian Bilenberg, and adds, “the quality is extremely high, and they contribute a lot of different angles.”

Platform with success, and bridge-building

Right now, there are 159 users, and the target goal was 200 users by completion of the project in November 2017. So, the project has enjoyed a successful start, and now the focus is on getting even more users involved and further develop MitAssist into a more user-involved platform, e.g., through polls. Furthermore, the collaboration with municipalities must be increased. Municipalities may greatly benefit from the insight that MitAssist generates of young people in the local community, and in time, municipalities will also be able to use the counselling platform actively in their own communication and guidance. Centre for Digital Youth Care has a vision of building a bridge between NGO and municipalities, so that vulnerable young people may receive the right counselling and help in time, and the MitAssist project supports this vision.

Facts about MitAssist

MitAssist is a new counselling platform whose purpose is to increase the contact with teenage boys between the ages of 13-20. Cyberhus, as well as TUBA, have had minimal contact with this group of young people, since the more traditional platforms have not appealed to them as much. MitAssist is built on the concept of gamification which a lot of boys can relate to, and a more personal counselling has created a community in which boys manage to support each other.

The entire project is sponsored by the VELUX FOUNDATION by 4,5 mio. DKK, and runs for more than 2 years. Next, the goal is that MitAssist creates such great value to both teenage boys and municipalities, that the new platform may continue.

Fore more information on mitassist.dk, please contact concept developer Jonas Sindal Birk.

Virtual self-harm

By Signe Sandfeld Hansen, M.Sc. in Psychology and counsellor, CfDP

Self-harm in Denmark

According to the Danish National Organisation Against Eating Disorders and Self-harm, close to a third of the Danish population aged 18-30 have, at some point in their lives, intentionally harmed themselves. Also, 16% of Danish high school students, and 13,5% of senior students in elementary school, have demonstrated self-harming behaviour at least one time. Self-harm is deliberate actions in which someone inflicts harm or pain on themselves, not intending to take their own life. The most frequent forms of self-harm are cutting, eating-disorders, self-directed violence, and an excessive use of alcohol or other drugs.

A variety of reasons may result in someone’s self-harming behaviour, but often self-harm is executed in order to attenuate ‘hard-to-handle’ emotions such as anger, anxiety, and jealousy. If someone finds it difficult to feel themselves or their emotions, self-harm may be their way to provoke some sort of reaction.

Chat addicted girlWhat may we learn from virtual self-harm?

In his article “Virtual Self Harm – Where’s the Harm?” Ken Corish, Online Safety Manager with South West Grid for Learning and UK Safer Internet Centre, highlights a new aspect of self-harming behaviour, namely virtual self-harm, in which youth use digital channels to achieve and maintain a reaction. For example, setting up and using fake profiles on social media in order to communicate degrading content at themselves, or seeking out confrontations with others, intending to be demeaned by others.

According to Corish’ article, the internet has opened up a set of new factors that may influence how we prevent and look at digital self-harm, and self-harming behaviour in general. Ken Corish makes a distinction between the phenomena of: “Finding your tribe”, “Tool of the trade”, “Auto-trolling” and “Self-baiting”.

Virtual self-harm #1: “Finding your tribe”

The internet offers communities catering to almost all groups of interest, and this may indeed be a positive thing. Particularly to vulnerable young people, the internet is an obvious choice of place to meet others who understand their situation, a place where someone can share their story or ask questions, or become better at dealing with life’s challenges. In relation to self-harming behaviour, or some other problematic behaviour, communities online may however become a source of normalising those behaviours and recognising them as good practice. Ken Corish mentions that a quick Tumblr search on self-harm results in a big selection of images and messages (both positive and negative), which may lead the user into unmoderated threads of comments or debates that focus on self-harm. A lot of sites have good intentions, but indirectly they actually end up promoting self-harm as something that is considered “emo”, “dark” and “cool.” Ken Corish also points out that some young people have acquired the culture of self-harm and promoted it as a lifestyle – “I’m cool because I’m emotionally interesting.”

Virtual self-harm #2: “Tool of the trade”

Aside from the unofficial self-harm communities, there are sites that try to limit the harms of self-harming behaviour by teaching “safe abuse.” This is a phenomenon that is most often present when drug addicts receive clean needles so that they can take their drug whilst minimising related risks. Corish refers to the organisation Selfharm.co.uk that offers online counselling on minimising damages when e.g. cutting – what should you cut with, where should you cut, and what do you do if you go into a state of shock.

In relation to both “finding your tribe” and “tool of the trade”, Corish’ article points out that if visitors are digitally educated young people, who are capable to do their own research and challenge the content of visited pages, then the pages are not dangerous. However, this requires that youth harbour a certain amount of resilience and also know how to reflect on digital content in the first place. Ken Corish also underlines that websites should follow distinct guidelines as to how they show “good advice”, so that the proper information is passed on – not just to young people, but also to professionals.

Virtual self-harm #3: “Auto-trolling”

The concept of trolling refers to the issue of using interpersonal communication online in order to provoke other users, and elicit a hot-headed discussion or conflict. “Auto-trolling” is a further development of the concept of trolling, and takes place when someone creates various fake profiles on e.g. social media, and then visibly “attacks” their own personal profile. This demands an understanding of how the technology works, along with a dedication to maintain their desired activity in order to achieve a certain credibility.

In his article, Ken Corish refers to the case of a young British girl, Hannah Smith, who committed suicide after being exposed to abusive, digital bullying. Police investigations found out that other people had not been involved, and evidence showed that Hannah had “attacked” herself by using several fake profiles. The case caused British authorities to focus on the need for social media to take responsibility and moderate/stop digital bullying, and at the same time, it showcased the nuances of the phenomenon of digital bullying to also include virtual self-harm.

Virtual self-harm #4: “Self-baiting”

The phenomenon of “self-baiting” is very similar to “trolling” represented by someone wishing to stir a discussion or a conflict, however differing fundamentally from a troll, who seeks a reaction (whichever reaction) or attention, whereas a “self-baiter” seeks reactions that stems from “attacks” against their person. This way, a “self-baiter” seeks out places where he/she can get other people to state abusive, or even mean, things directed to the self-baiter.

Although not completely similar, the phenomenon of “roast me” is a form of “self-baiting” where someone posts a picture of themselves, and directly asks others to provide nasty/mean comments. As a vulnerable and insecure young person, it may present a means of having others confirm their self-afflicted thoughts and emotions, and perhaps lead them to maintain other self-harming behaviour.

Understanding, digital education, and increased internet safety

Ken Corish presents a set of initiatives that would be productive to keep in mind when working with vulnerable children and young people, particularly concerning self-harm, but still encompassing other issues.

Remember, digital life is part of young people’s lives

  • When you make an effort to prevent self-harming behaviour, it is important to understand that technology may have an important role to play. Create a dialogue with young people about their use of online communities. “Stop using the internet” is not a rational intervention, when digital life and social media play a big part in young people’s lives.
 

Digitally educated youth

In order for young people to able to reflect on, and sort, digital content, it is necessary that they know how to take on an explorative approach. The School service with Centre for Digital Youth Care aims to foster an explorative approach by, among others:

  • strengthening young people’s resilience online in order to increase their safety,
  • promoting information on what “faceless” communication means to social understanding,
  • teaching young people how to behave in a positive manner in online communities,
  • teaching young people to mold their digital footprints to their advantage, and teaching them how to be critical of online content, and acquiring an explorative approach.
 

Ken Corish’ article encourages professionals, who work with vulnerable children and young people, to look at digital life as part of a whole, and understand that digital life is of great importance when making initiatives. Digital self-harm is a phenomenon which we will follow closely, both in our counselling at Cyberhus, and in our physical communication with students.

At Centre for Digital Youth Care, we continue our work to strengthen young people’s digital education, hoping to create a safer internet together. So, if you should carry stories or information on digital self-harming behaviour, we would greatly appreciate your input, so that we continually may increase our understanding of this phenomenon.

Read the entire article “Virtual Self Harm – Where’s the Harm?” by Ken Corish in ‘Every Child Journal’ (not yet published).

Find more information on digital self-harm by visiting Ken Corish’ website:
http://www.kencorish.info/waving-silently-technology-and-self-harm/

The use of IT and digital media in the field of pedagogy

By Anni Marquard, Head of centre, CfDP

The project has also aimed to create a forum for knowledge sharing across Europe and alleviate a lacking knowledge about the use of IT – both politically, organisationally, and practically. The result of our project consists of two reports, an international report, and a Danish report. Below, we relate exclusively to our Danish results.

The Danish research is based on the responses of 125 professionals by means of digital questionnaires, and conversations with professionals and youth distributed between 6 different focus groups. Generally, our research is characterised by the view that IT and digital media overall are considered to be positive dimensions which can be included in pedagogical and social work. However, we see a need for focusing on a better, long-term qualification of employers, distinct guidelines for strategical work with social and digital media in a professional context, teaching that creates identification with youth – and on a completely low-practical level, that our technology runs smoothly. Based on the Danish report, these are our four recommendations for the international report:

screenagers1

At the end of this article, you will find links to the full report, but below we will shortly elaborate on our four recommendations:

IT and media creating dialogue with youth
IT and digital/social media are especially applied to ease the communication among professionals, as well as among professionals and youth with an aim to create better dialogue and information. Generally, a lot of good intentions exist concerning the use of IT and media in the field of pedagogical and social work, but it is necessary to create a continuous effort in order to implement such use in the workplace of those who work with children and young people. It is clearly evident from our questionnaires and focus groups that IT and media help create an easy and effective communication. IT and media are primarily used to help create dialogue with youth (planning and communication). Part of the respondents and focus group participants have realised that if they want to establish a successful contact with young people, it will be on young people’s terms, although professionals may feel unfamiliar with, and challenged by, communicating and interacting digitally.

A professional framework should be devised
In all of the focus groups there was a general consensus that you cannot do without IT and social/digital media when working with young people whose everyday lives today also take place online. In order that the use of IT succeeds, the importance of devising an overall framework with respect to how professionals can utilise IT and social/digital media effectively, is highlighted. Several of our participants experience that they each have to figure out to what extent they wish to incorporate IT and digital/social media.

An overall skills upgrading is necessary
IT opens up for new opportunities when entering into dialogue with young people, and may give professionals useful information about their young people which they would otherwise not have received. Focus group participants who were teachers, had a positive approach toward the use of IT and media in their work and believed that an overall skills upgrading would be necessary in order to help them use IT and media the most valuable way possible. We must facilitate hands-on courses where professionals will have practical experience with IT, and thus learn how it can be used practically in their work.

It is significant to devise an IT-strategy
None of the focus group participants had been directly and continuously taught in the use of IT and digital/social media. Participants point out that it may be a problem that IT-courses are often single-scheduled and short, and only consist of presentations which leave out possibilities for practical experience. Therefore, several focus group participants experience that using IT and media is very much a matter of taking things in their own hands, and building on experiences they already have. From the case study on daycare centres, our questionnaires, and focus groups, it is clearly necessary that the skills of professionals are upgraded so that IT and media can gain ground in the field of pedagogical and social work.

It is essential that this is not merely a one-man’s project in which fiery souls work as the sustaining force. Professionals must be introduced to various tools according to a given purpose. There is also a need to generally make an effort in the workplace, and it is important to devise an IT-strategy, both within municipal and private organisations in regards to implementation, training, the pedagogical practice, and ethical and legal aspects.

Talking to youth is not enough
Focus group participants all agreed that it is very important to keep a critical eye on work-related use of IT and media, and reflect on performed options and deselections, also applying to young people. A large number of respondents deemed important that children and young people become aware of their digital identity as well as how they relate to their own behaviour online. Our youth focus groups clearly believe, that before IT is utilised in their education, it must be used continuously, because youth also sense whether their teacher believes integrating IT in lessons is valuable or not. To young people, IT and media can be used as an alternative form of representation, where they can communicate and present content in a space that moves the focus from youth themselves to their digital product.

Also, young people could be informed and further activated in regards to web-ethics, so that they become aware that their digital behaviour online may entail consequences and influence other people or themselves. They must be equipped with the right tools to manage their online behaviour, and to handle unpleasant experiences online. This can be achieved by continuously treating these topics – both when episodes arise, and as part of young people’s general education. We got the impression, from our youth focus groups, that it is not enough to talk to young people about online “rules of the road.” They need to actively work with these rules, for instance through cases that create identification. By touching on relevant subject matters that create recognisability, the “rules of the road” become relevant to youth which eventually leads to a greater reflection on their digital behaviour.

More information
You can find case-stories, see focus group results, and results from questionnaires etc. in our full Danish report.

Also, please see produced a larger international report including an infographic summary.

screenagers13

About the project:
Screenagers is an international project that researches the use of digital and social media in the field of pedagogy. Youth Council of Northern Ireland is part of the project, basing their involvement on their experience of a reluctance toward the use of digital tools in a pedagogical practice. Centre for Digital Youth Care is part of the project alongside Youth Council of Northern Ireland, National Youth Council of Ireland, Finnish Verke, and WienXtra from Austria.

2015: Cyberhus’ chat counselling last year!

By Niels-Christian Bilenberg, pedagogical consultant, CfDP

Overall Activity

Overall activity since 2005. Please click for larger image.

What is an inquiry? An inquiry, for example, covers a chat conversation, a post in the debate forum, a picture, or a comment on a blog. The right-hand graph shows the development of Cyberhus’ collective activities since the beginning in 2005.

If we take a closer look at the total number of inquiries, we notice that young people still increasingly use Cyberhus as a platform where they mirror themselves in others and seek advice among their peers.

Increasingly Youth-to-Youth rather than Youth-to-Adult?

The graph below represents how young people’s activity on Cyberhus has developed over the past 5 years in regards to Cyberhus’ two general categories; Youth-to-Youth which accommodates Cyberhus’ Debate forum, Images, Secrets, and Blogs, and our Youth-to-Adult section which accommodates Cyberhus’ 1-1-Chat, Youth-inChat, and Problem pages.

Distribution of activity

Youth-to-Youth and Youth-to-Adult. Please click for larger image.

It may seem as though youth would rather seek advice among their peers over adult counsellors. But that is not quite the case. In order to understand this, we have to take a closer look at the numbers.

Perspectivation

The number of conversations in our 1-1-Chat has decreased significantly over the past 3 years, however the reason for this is not because of a lacking interest from youth. In 2013 we carried out 2002 conversations. In 2014, the number was 1503, and in 2015 we counted 1252 conversations.

In order to understand the decreasing numbers, they have to be viewed in perspective to the opening hours of our 1-1-Chat which were also cut down during this time. June of 2014, we had to cut down our opening hours due to lack of funding. Our 1-1-Chat is always monitored by a paid coordinator whose tasks include supporting our volunteer counsellors and as such, securing the quality of our counselling work as well as establishing a safe space for each volunteer. This change has not been fully implemented until 2015 by which time we have had “new” opening hours for a full year. The graph below shows how the number of opening hours and conversations has changed.

Chat conversations

Number of chat-hours and conversations. Please click for larger image.

In order to get a more comparable number of completed chat conversations, we have to take a look at the number of conversations we have completed per hour. Doing this, we see that we have actually succeeded in completing more conversations an hour. In both 2013 and 2014, we completed on average 1,6 conversations per hour. In 2015, we completed 2 conversations per hour, and since the average length of a conversation has not decreased, we must view the increase as an expression that we simply have had the opportunity to open more lines simultaneously. The number of volunteers is continually unchanged, but is now distributed over a less number of hours.

Not a case of fewer who chat

Although we have completed a lower number of conversations in our 1-1-Chat, the number of participants in our other chatrooms have increased correspondingly. Our group chats have had 1107 participants, which is an increase by more than 20% compared to the year 2014. Even though the focus of group chats is to give youth the opportunity to support each other, it is important to point out that at least one adult counsellor is always present.

2015 also marked the year in which we welcomed our Youth-in municipalities-collaboration. In 2015, counsellors with youth counselling of Bispebjerg started having their own chatroom on Cyberhus, targeting youth in Copenhagen. Copenhagen youth found their way to this counselling 99 times.

More chats coming

Similar to our previous years, 2015 was filled with life-affirming conversations, difficult questions, beautiful images, and bold secrets. In our group chat, we had great success inviting young people to dedicatedly participate in debates on alcohol, and 2015 also marked the year where we created a foundation to building our strived for bridge between Cyberhus’ several volunteers, and municipal initiatives targeting children and young people. This is a development we will follow closely in 2016, by which we will also see the municipalities of Ringkøbing-Skjern and Aarhus open their own chat on Cyberhus.

If you would like more information on Cyberhus’ chat-collaboration with municipalities in Denmark, please contact head of centre, Anni Marquard, anni@cfdp.dk.

When it hurts

By Signe Sandfeld Hansen, M.Sc. in Psychology and counsellor, CfDP

Bullying is a complex phenomenon, and it can be difficult to completely explain what happens, and what it means to the individual and/or group. So, we have involved our young people and created a dialogue to learn more about what youth think about bullying, what you can do to stop bullying, and why bullying takes place at all.

“As a victim of bullying, you get a sense that it’s your own fault, or that others won’t believe or understand you if you tell someone, for instance your parents or teachers”

Anonymous youth during our group chat on bullying

Group chats on bullying during January

Each week, we organised a group chat activity where young people were invited to discuss different topics related to bullying. Concurrently, we wrote 7 articles on bullying. We have articles on sexbullying, digital bullying, and a personal story about being a victim of bullying.

Thursday 7 January: What is bullying? (We take a look at bullying in general, and what happens when you bully/get bullied)

Thursday 14 January: What is digital bullying? (We talk about digital bullying, and what you can do to avoid it) – Guest expert: Jonas Ravn from Centre for Digital Youth care.

Thursday 21 January: Violent bullying (What is the difference between psychological and physical bullying? We talk about the issue of defining violent bullying, and what you can do about it)

Thursday 28 January: What can we do to prevent bullying? (We talk about what you can do when you see someone get bullied/you are bullied, and why it is hard to intervene)

The group chat is open each Thursday between 6-9 p.m., and is moderated by a counsellor from Cyberhus. This counsellor also wrote a blog post prior to Cyberhus’ January group chats, presenting the theme, and she also summarised the group chat session in a blog post following each session. The group chat also hosted guest experts who shared their professional expertise and replied to young people’s questions. The campaign was advertised on Facebook and Instagram, where youth were redirected to Cyberhus’ feature, ‘Secrets’, which linked back to Cyberhus’ group chat and blog posts.

Youth quote

Secret from Cyberhus.dk: My class is a mix of 4-6 graders, I’m the only one from 6 and I’m hitting puberty, and the others make fun of me, I feel wrong in so many ways

Participate!

The theme was well-received by youth at Cyberhus, and they actively participated in the group chat. On average, 20 young people were online in every group chat during the 3-hour session. We saw various attitudes toward, and perspectives on, bullying, and people shared their personal stories. The dialogue particularly addressed which emotions are linked to bullying, how you can avoid “hating” on social media, how groups can maintain or change a culture of bullying, and how words can hurt just as much as physical blows.

Youth also did well in supporting and acknowledging each other, and encouraging people to say stop if they, or others, got bullied. Also, feelings related to the consequences of bullying, and bullying in general, must be articulated, so we can learn more about understanding our emotions and how we respect one another. Furthermore, people agreed that we must focus on how we avoid bullying, starting during early schooling.

“There is a bully-mentality in the group that is difficult to go against. A kind of implied accept that bullying does happen”

Anonymous youth during our group chat on bullying

Youth: Assume accountability for change

More practically speaking, youth generally agreed that cultures of bullying can only be changed by creating initiatives or efforts targeting the group as a whole. Both students, parents, and teachers have to assume accountability for change. If bullying is already present, it may be a good idea to speak with all the students individually, and not just having conversations with those directly involved. It was also pointed out that it is a good idea to explain potential consequences of bullying, and have a previous victim of bullying tell their story. This way, we include both emotion, reason, and credibility.

Youth quote

Secret from Cyberhus.dk: I live with a foster family and when I was in 3rd grade, I was bullied because of it

Bullying is a very present problem, and the stories from Cyberhus’ group chat testify to very serious consequences. At Centre for Digital Youth Care and Cyberhus, we will continue making an effort to create dialogues on bullying, and give youth the opportunity to reflect on their behaviour, offline as well as online.

The campaign contributes to a larger EU-collaboration, the anti-bullying project, ENABLE.

Fore more information, please contact: signe@cfdp.dk

Meeting young people at digital eye level on bullying

By Signe Sandfeld Hansen, M.Sc. in Psychology and counsellor, CfDP & Karina Lange, Master of Arts (MA) in International Business communication & communicator, CfDP

Why a digital campaign?

The aim of our campaign was to create an open dialogue where young people would have the opportunity to reflect on their emotions, thought-processes and behavior in regards to bullying. This would apply to the one who bullies, the victim, and bystanders (the group). The campaign was based on the principles of ENABLE’s anti-bullying concept, whose purpose is to develop young people’s social and emotional skills, aiming to improve their understanding and their sense of responsibility regarding their on- and offline social interactions. ENABLE wants to fight bullying using a holistic effort concerning young people’s social lives, empathy, and their individual resilience. By making a digital campaign, we have created a dialogue with young people across school and spare time.

“As a victim of bullying, you get a sense that it’s your own fault, or that others won’t believe or understand you if you tell someone, for instance your parents or teachers”

Anonymous youth during our group chat on bullying

Centre for Digital Youth Care works daily on meeting young people at digital eye level by using digital media. The experience we have from our online counselling, Cyberhus, tells us there is a need to focus on digital efforts because they offer youth an opportunity to enter into dialogue on their own terms.

Organisation of the campaign

CfDP’s digital youth counselling, Cyberhus, operated as a bridge between young people, and each Thursday during the month of January, the group chat focused on bullying. The subject matters in the group chat were based on ENABLE modules.

Thursday 7 January 2016: What is bullying

  • Definition of bullying (and where does it take place?)
  • When does it turn into bullying?
  • What happens when someone bullies? (the individual, the group, the environment). Which “roles” exist? (victim, bully, bystander). Do I participate in bullying by not doing anything when the bullying takes place?
  • What are emotions? How do I describe how I feel? Examples of emotions (good and bad). How do I know if someone has the same experience as I do?
  • Which subjects are sensitive? (e.g. race, religion, appearance, disabilities, gender, sexuality)

 

Thursday 14 January 2016: What is digital bullying – guest counsellor: Jonas Ravn, CfDP

  • “Faceless” – How does this affect someone’s communication? (difficult to read emotions
  • Misunderstandings (intention vs. reception)
  • Digital self-harm
  • Have you ever experienced digital bullying? What did you do?
  • How do I avoid digital bullying?

 

Thursday 21 January: Violent bullying

  • Teasing, bullying, violence – what define the boundaries between those aspects?
  • Physical and psychological violence
  • Why is it difficult to act up?

 

Thursday 28 January: How can we stop bullying?

  • Peer-to-Peer Support (youth to youth network)
  • How do I take on accountability as a child or a teenager?
  • Is it easy to change behavior? (why is it difficult?)
  • How do I manage my emotions? Strategies on managing negative emotions
  • What can I do in a particular situation? What are the consequences?

 

Prior to the group chat, we posted a short blog post that focused on the theme of the following chat. The post invited people to comment and submit inputs. We also posted a blog summary after the chat session.

“There is a bully-mentality in my group that makes it difficult to cross with others. A kind of implied accept that bullying does happen”

Anonymous youth during our group chat on bullying

The counsellors’ experience with the group chat

Our group chat had on average 20 young people online during each chat session consisting of 3 hours. The chatroom hosted a lot of different perspectives on bullying and our young people shared several personal experiences. The counsellors observed that some people shared experiences they had not yet shared with others. In addition to personal accounts, the chat sessions particularly circled around issues of which emotions were associated with bullying; how can you avoid “hating” on social media; which significance applies to a certain group in relation to maintaining or changing a culture of bullying, and how can words do as much harm as physical blows.

Our young people were also proficient in supporting and acknowledging one another, as well as encouraging people to stand up for themselves if they, or someone else, got bullied. They also believed that you must verbalise feelings associated with the consequences of bullying, and the bullying itself, so that we learn more about how we can understand our emotions, and how we respect one another. Also, people agreed there must be a focus on anti-bullying starting during early school years.

Group chat as a tool

bullying_remake_by_yupiyeyo-d48fbobWe chose our group chat as a pedagogical tool, because this chatroom creates a framework under which youth are able to enter into dialogue with a counsellor or with one another. Young people may exchange experiences or advice, and they can communicate honestly without having to expose themselves, because the group chat allows full anonymity. This makes it possible for us to connect with ‘well-adjusted’ as well as vulnerable young people. Particularly in relation to vulnerable young people, our group chat offers a room in which their experiences, thoughts and emotions are taken seriously by a counsellor and/or other young people. They cannot say anything wrong in our group chat, and this may help them share more than they would have at school or at home. In other words, the group chat offers a space for young people who normally do not have much space to begin with.

When young people are allowed to absorb their space and contribute their own knowledge, it seems that some sort of informal learning between young people is taking place. The informal learning can be viewed from two angles. First and foremost, there seems to be an aspect of social-learning because our young people are doing well at moderating each other and speak out if their boundaries are breached. This way, they communicate what they want and what they do not want in a social context.

Second, apparently there is an aspect of emotional learning due to the fact that our young people are taken seriously. A lot of people we meet on Cyberhus, have almost no experiences of being taken seriously – be it by other young people or adults. So, they experience a growing insecurity regarding their faith in their own emotions and thoughts.

At Cyberhus, they are taken seriously. They are met with care and respect. Therefore, our group chat may help young people trust their own words more and enable them to participate in the debate on bullying in the physical room, e.g. at school or in their youth club.

Additional communication

Our blog and group chat have very much operated as part of our campaign which recognises that bullying happens in varying degrees and expresses itself in a variety of ways. The more informative part of our communication material for young people consist of articles posted on Cyberhus. They are still available in Cyberhus’ articles archive, and entail information on e.g. different types of bullying (violent bullying, sex bullying, digital bullying), whom to address if you experience bullying, and a success story on someone who managed to come out on the other side of bullying.

The function of the articles have been flexible meaning that if someone asked a question in the chat room, e.g. concerning bullying at school or digital bullying, we wrote an article on that subject. This way, we were able to meet our young people and show them that we listen. As already mentioned, it is of utmost importance to us that young people are taken seriously.

Future plans for our project

Bullying is a major issue and the stories from our group chat testify that bullying results in very serious consequences. At CfDP and Cyberhus, we will continue to make an effort to create dialogues on the issue of bullying and provide young people opportunities to reflect on their behaviour, in real life and online. This effort include ongoing group chats, and blog posts on bullying.

Our group chat has particularly addressed how bullying can be stopped and how young people, parents, and pedagogical staff as a unit, must collaborate more focused on the fight against bullying. Therefore, in the future it could be interesting to receive practical ideas from young people on how a given group culture could be changed, along with young people’s views on initiatives inherent in the ENABLE modules, with an aim to improve and target those initiatives. All in all, it has been an exciting process which has had a positive impact on groups of young people. Also, our campaign has managed to create an intended dialogue on bullying. Therefore, we consider our campaign a success, however, we unfortunately face a long road before coming to grips with bullying.

More information on the project can be obtained by contacting Signe Sandfeld Hansen by mail, signe@cfdp.dk or by phone, +0045 86370400.

The campaign is developed in collaboration with ENABLE.

See .pdf version of this article.

Successful digital campaign on alcohol

By Signe Sandfeld Hansen, M.Sc. in Psychology and counsellor & project coordinator, CfDP

Alcohol campaigns are often reputed to be difficult to implement successfully, and particularly with young people, there is a general tendency to prefer drinking alcohol than having a dialogue about it. By using CfDP’s online youth club (Cyberhus.dk) as part of the campaign, young people have had the opportunity to communicate across ages and geographic residence, as well as ask questions anonymously to professionals specialising in the use of alcohol. It has also been possible to continually adapt the content of the campaign relative to the collected data from our young people.

The opportunity for anonymity helped several young people share unpleasant thoughts or experiences

The alcohol campaign was marketed with Facebook ads targeting young people in Denmark, aged 15-20. The ads were shown to 132,000 people, and 12,900 people then clicked the ads. When someone clicked the ad, they were redirected to Cyberhus.dk’s “Secrets” page. “Secrets” invites young people to share a short secret (max 150 characters). The feature is anonymous which means that someone can share unpleasant thoughts or experiences without having to expose themselves. During the period of our campaign, young people were invited to share their secrets on alcohol, and 400 secrets were shared during that period.

Youth and alcohol

Danish secrets shared on Cyberhus.dk

Apart from Facebook ads and “Secrets”, our campaign has used Cyberhus.dk’s other digital features of counselling: youth blogs, articles, forum and group chats. The articles represented the alcohol-critical part of our presentation and consisted among others of topics such as “harmful consequences of alcohol”, and “where do I turn to when thing go south.” A total of 10 articles were written, and each article linked to our discussion forum. The articles were read 545 times.

Group chat – our primary feature of counselling

The group chat was our primary function of counselling during the campaign. The group chat is open each Thursday from 6-9 p.m., and normally runs without a specific theme. The group chat gives young people the opportunity to anonymously share experiences and knowledge with each other. A counsellor, who also serves as a moderator, is always present in the group chat.

During the campaign (November 2015) 116 young people participated in our group chat which presented various themes related to young people and alcohol. Furthermore, we invited different guest counsellors to our chat who each had knowledge about different aspects on the subject:

5 November Theme: Alcohol for better or worse.
Guest counsellor: a young person.

12 November Theme: Myths about alcohol.
Mads Uffe Pedersen, Centre for Alcohol and Drug Research.

19 November Theme: Alcohol dependency and abuse.
Guest counsellor: Pia Møller, Centre for Alcohol Treatment.

26 November Theme: Alcohol culture of youth.
Guest counsellors: Nynne Frederiksen and Anne Sofie Christensen, ”Drunk on Life” campaign.

Digital media is an effective tool to communicate information about alcohol to young people

The overall results of our campaign (see Danish report below for specific data), support our view that digital media has been an effective tool to communicate information about alcohol to young people, and getting young people to talk about their use of alcohol. Young people themselves have also responded well to the theme and design of our campaign evidenced by comments on our blog and in our group chat.

Also, professionals have responded well to our campaign, among others at after-work meetings. Pia Møller Nielsen, alcohol treatment provider and social worker, (participated in our group chat as guest counsellor), says among other things: “Young people are great at encouraging one another, and they create a unique room for reflection where they choose what to contribute, and what to leave aside. It is so important to have a room that is encompassing to who you are, especially when you may not feel comfortable speaking about what is close to your heart, and about that which you may feel is taboo, elsewhere.”

Relevant to further develop digital campaigns

Centre for Digital Youth Care encourages further development of digital campaigns and advertising, and that they be used for other themes relating to physical and mental health. We also assess that it is relevant to create more initiatives targeting professionals who work with young people in order that this way of creating dialogue is used progressively in areas other than just prevention (e.g., in treatment or counselling). For example, it could be an after-work meeting focusing on the use of digital media as networks of support in order to prevent relapse following treatment, or training courses of how to facilitate digital counselling for vulnerable children and young people.

A psychologist, specialising in youth and drugs, was responsible for the content of the campaign, and also functioned as our primary counsellor in the group chat.Digital Youth Campaign on Alcohol

Centre For Digital Youth Care has collaborated on this campaign with:

The Social Work of KFUM (YMCA) Centre for Alcohol and Drug ResearchThe Danish Cancer Society, “Drunk on Life” campaignCentre for Alcohol Treatment

The municipality of Copenhagen is successful with their digital counselling for young people

By Lousin Hartmann, communicator, CfDP

Today, young people are digital. That is a fact. With that in consideration, the municipality of Copenhagen chose to offer digital counselling in collaboration with cyberhus.dk, hoping to reach more people, during a trial period from November 2014 until July 2015. Cyberhus.dk receives on average 1,200 visitors from all corners of the country each day – among others Copenhagen. A number that speaks for itself, and which contributed to the municipality of Copenhagen stepping forward into digital counselling.

Anonymity and availability give access to more young people

According to section 11, paragraph 2 of the Service Act, all municipalities in Denmark must be able to offer anonymous counselling to anyone. In most of Denmark’s municipalities, the paragraph is managed by offering counselling in person. Digital counselling is, on the other hand, defined by being ‘faceless’, and thus absolutely anonymous; a form of counselling that is not offered too many places as of yet, and which may mean that a lot of teenagers are left with no support. Johnny Szumlanski, youth counsellor at Bispebjerg in the municipality of Copenhagen, knows about this issue all too well.

Johnny has observed young people wandering back and forth in front of the big windows of ‘Gadeplan’ (On the street) where he works. “They are walking around, gathering the courage to enter our (physical) counselling. And sometimes they end up not coming in,” says Johnny Szumlanski who sometimes find it difficult to reach those young people who do not feel like visiting their physical counselling. “Our youth counselling is supposed to be available to everyone, not just the ones who find the courage to show up at our door. Some of our young people may feel limited in their anonymity when they have to show up personally. It requires a lot from them, and ideally all young people, who would like to get in touch with our counselling, do so,” says Johnny Szumlanski.

Johnny Szumlanski sees how their digital counselling opens up to a target group of young people who very likely would have gone unnoticed otherwise. And the reason why their digital counselling is a success, is obvious: “Using a computer in the comfort of your own home requires less effort than finding one’s way to our physical counselling, and this way we reach young people, who we would otherwise not be able to reach,” says Johnny Szumlanski, and refers to the fact that the physical as well as the mental distance inherently is shortened – with a single click.

Copenhagen chat at Cyberhus.dk

Being present among young people

Cyberhus.dk is a vast universe for young people, and Cyberhus noticed a significant influx of young people from Copenhagen, counting 11,000 annual visits. “Young people are already using cyberhus.dk, and the fact that our chatroom is present on cyberhus, too, makes it easier for people to stop by”, says Johnny Szumlanski, explaining why the municipality of Copenhagen has connected with cyberhus.dk. Anchoring online youth counselling locally and offering a digital lifeline in municipalities, is important because young people need to be in touch with someone from their neighborhood who knows about their area, and who is able to guide them in the direction of other supportive measures in their municipality, Johnny Szumlanski explains.

During their trial period, the municipality of Copenhagen received their own chat line on cyberhus.dk, dedicated to youth in Copenhagen between the ages of 13-17. The chat line’s opening hours totalled 130 hours allocated on a couple of weekdays. “It worked,” says Szumlanski and explains: “During our trial period, we have been in contact with approximately 60 young people. It may not sound like much, but it is,” Szumlanski says, and explains further that during the last 3 months of their trial period, the number of inquiries doubled. This number should be viewed relative to the fact that their physical youth counselling received 177 first-time inquiries during the entire year of 2014, including inquiries resulting from outreach services of youth counsellors at Bispebjerg,
and opening hours being all weekdays. “I am quite certain that we would not have received our 60 inquiries, had we not had the opportunity to offer our digital anonymous counselling,” says Johnny Szumlanski.

Online counselling in line with young people

Most people know that teenagers are sensitive individuals. For this reason, Johnny Szumlanski adds that youth counsellors can always better their understanding of young people and develop their methods used to interact with them: “Teenagers are vulnerable people, and they care about what other people think of them, and therefore they are more careful that others will not figure out what happens around them. And so, it requires a lot before they make contact with us,” Johnny Szumlanski says and emphasises the importance of letting the counselling take place in line with the youngsters themselves – in their element. Here, in our digital space.

Answering the question whether or not it is possible at all to create presence with young people through the screen, Johnny Szumlanski says that it is definitely possible when using the right choice of wording and an open-minded approach, characterised by the ability to listen and being solution-oriented. However, the meeting is prone to be more “harsh” online than in the physical counselling, because the ones you are speaking to have the ability to log off anytime. “But that is also okay, because they have taken the first step, and they know that they are welcome back to our chatroom.” So, Johnny Szumlanski has no doubt that online counselling is the right direction for municipalities in the future, as a supplement to the physical counselling. “We are dealing with the google generation. They google everything – also when they find life difficult. Young people move around online, thus contact with young people can be established online,” Johnny Szumlanski states and adds that he sees great potential in developing digital counsellings accommodating other needs, for instance counsellings targeting relatives and young people over the age of 18.

Anti-bullying material and guides for Helplines

By Jonas Ravn, speaker and project manager, CfDP

Centre for Digital Youth Care has been a contributor of Danish insight and experiences from our own counselling, and several years of educating pupils, parents, and professionals. As national Helpline it has also been our task to inform other European Helplines about the tools of ENABLE. Are you interested in promoting well-being at schools and leisure environments? Then you may want to read more about some of ENABLE’s insights below.

New release

A few weeks ago, a collective “book” about ENABLE’s structure, and how you as a professional can get started using the many resources, was released. The book contains information about social and emotional learning as a method, and how you may initiate a pupils’ network at school, and how you generally apply modules and material from ENABLE. The book is available online:

ENABLE has also supplied a complete updated list of knowledge and programmes in Europe. At http://enable.eun.org/report you will find a complete overview of the prevelances and initiatives in various countries of Europe, along with a visual summary of key trends.

Cyberhus as Helpline

The European helplines is a network of institutions of knowledge and counselling that share experiences in a variety of areas.

As described in this article, one of the main causes of inquiries to European helplines is bullying. Therefore, this subject is also of great professional relevance. It is our view that a lot of countries lack useful programmes which are holistic in their approach to well-being and bullying. Therefore, the material of ENABLE has also been well received in many countries already.

Denmark has got committed ambassadors from SSP (crime prevention cooperation between Social Services, School and Police in relation to children and adolescents under 18 years of age) and AKT (Behaviour, Contact and Welfare) in the cities of Randers and Middelfart. Together, we have agreed to focus on the “peer support” programme – ie establishing a pupils’ network used to effectively strengthen pupils’ well-being in the classroom. We also use our own counselling, Cyberhus, to focus on well-being outside of the school (at Cyberhus, we often meet children outside of their school environment).

A few weeks back, we took part of a webinar which included 15 European helplines, during which we talked about ENABLE’s many possibilities, and how we have chosen to use some of ENABLE’s available resources. In this respect, we have produced a short animation that serves as an introduction to our teaching of European helplines. Please feel free to take a look at the animation below:

If you are interested in ENABLE or have any questions about the material, please contact:

Jonas Ravn, jonas@cfdp.dk or Niels-Christian, nc@cfdp.dk.

Meeting young people at Digital eye level – Life online

By Signe Sandfeld Hansen, M.Sc. in Psychology and counsellor & project coordinator, CfDP

SID 2016 banner

Why a digital campaign?

The aim of our digital campaign is to create an open dialogue where young people have the opportunity to reflect on their own online-behavior, and also to present them with an eye opener as to how they are exposed to hidden advertisements, and information on how their personal data may be subject to (ab)use online.

CfDP works daily on meeting young people at eye level concerning their use of digital media. The experience we have from our online counselling, Cyberhus, tells us there is a need for focusing on digital efforts because it offers youth an opportunity to enter into dialogue on their own terms. It may provide opportunities for young people to communicate honestly without exposing themselves, and this may help reach both ‘well-adjusted’ and vulnerable young people. Therefore, digital initiatives can help create opportunities for better prevention and early counselling, both in relation to online issues, such as digital bullying and failed internet purchases, and other themes relating to mental health during youth.

How is the campaign organised?

The campaign is divided into different elements that address young people directly as well as those professions that work with young people. CfDP’s digital youth counselling, Cyberhus, operates as a bridge-builder among young people, and each thursday during the month of February, Cyberhus hosts a group chat debating various themes pertaining to young people’s life online.

Thursday 4 February @ 6-9 p.m.: Are you crazy about social media? Featuring Jonas Sindal from CfDP, speaker on digital well-being.

Thursday 11 February @ 6-9 p.m.: Do you play computer games? Featuring Jesper Krogh Kristiansen, gaming developer and consultant.

Thursday 18 February @ 6-9 p.m.: Are you private online? Featuring Pernille Tranberg, data-ethical consultant from Digital Identity.

Thursday 25 February @ 6-9 p.m.: Can you spot a bargain online? Featuring Lea Markersen, legal expert from the Danish consumer council Think.

Before Cyberhus’ group chat, we will post a blog focusing on a given theme of the following chat and invite our young people to comment or provide other input. After the chat, we will post another blog which shortly summarises what the chat-session addressed.

For young people

Cyberhus’ blog and group chat greatly act as part of the campaign that recognises that the internet entail social and positive aspects that appeal to young people. The more heavyset information, and partly critical parts of the campaign’s material for our young people, consist of articles posted on Cyberhus. The articles include information on how to change your privacy settings, what characterise different social media, and digital bullying. The function of the articles are flexible which means that if someone asks a lot of questions concerning e.g. anonymity online or online counselling, an article will be written on that subject. So, we meet our young people and show them that we listen: They are taken seriously.

In each article, we link to Cyberhus’ debate forums where young people can voice their opinions. Also, we offer options for young people to chat about their experiences online ‘youth-to-youth’ in the group chat, and they can also ask different experts questions.

For professionals

The part of our campaign, which is aimed at professionals who work with young people, include this particular article along with a short conclusive report on the campaign. The report will, among other things, give an overview of which subject matters appealed most to our young people, the degree of participation in the chatroom, and the effect of our Facebook advertising.

About Safer Internet Day 2016

The campaign is developed in collaboration with the The Media Council for Children and Young People in connection with Safer Internet Day 2016. Safer Internet Day is celebrated in more than 100 countries across the world. Again in 2016, there is a focus on being united on creating a better internet for everyone, particularly for children and young people. Read more about the activities taking place all over the world on the website for The Media Council for Children and Young People. Follow Safer Internet Day #Iplaymypart #Playyourpart #SID2016.

If you would like to learn more about this project, please contact Signe Sandfeld Hansen by email signe@cfdp.dk or phone +45 8637 0400.

We collaborate with

medieraadet_dk

in connection with Safer Internet Day 2016

sid_2016_logo_with_ec_insafe_inhope_space

Primary school is of crucial importance to pupils’ digital education

By Camilla Tang Jensen, communicator, CfDP

liviskolen_digitaldannelse

Life at School

Social media plays an an ever increasing role for children and young people – both at school and outside of school. However, although pupils today are born almost carrying a smartphone, they are not necessarily aware of the moral considerations that should be taken into account when spending time on social media. Navigating our digital reality requires digital education – this is confirmed time and time again by media that often confront us with cases such as the ‘Viborg files’; cases that are evident to the fact how bad things can unfold if youngsters are not reflecting on when/how they misuse rather than use social media.

Furthermore, more and more schools are forced to take a stand on online bullying, nude pictures, inappropriate self-representation on social media, and other issues that clearly present a need for instituting media ethics at school, Jonas Ravn states, project manager with CfDP. For more than 8 years, Jonas has travelled to primary schools all over Denmark, teaching pupils, teachers, and parents about net ethics and digital education.

“For several years, there’s been a focus on well-being at schools in terms of not pushing each other in the school yard. But you must not push each other digitally either. Children must be aware that just because their relationships on social media take place virtually, they entail the same reactions. When you are not able to see another person’s reaction, you don’t notice if something you say hurts someone else. However, by the fact you cannot see each other does not mean you are free to write anything you want – it still afflicts the person on the other end,” explains Jonas Ravn.

Teachers have to speak about digital education with pupils

Talking about digital education has been a school task for a long time. As of summer 2015, this task has been further strengthened as a result from the new reform of Danish primary schools. The new Common Goals tighten the requirements of pupils’ digital skills – and thus, also that of teachers who must help equip pupils for our digital age. Therefore, we experience a growing need for teachers to become equipped to talk about digital well-being and net ethics with pupils.

“Schools have always had an educational responsibility, and this continues even though daily life ever increasingly takes place on social media. I feel that there is an uncertainty associated with speaking about social media if teachers feel that their pupils know more about the subject than they do. But do not be afraid to talk about digital education with pupils just because you do not have a Facebook profile or know what Snapchat is. Because that is not the issue. It’s about life proficiency and education in general, and adults just have far greater knowledge in this regard.

Pupils are digital natives in the sense that they quickly familiarise themselves with social media, but that does not mean that they are in control of ethics and morality. Hence, they need to get a better understanding of human relations on social media, which is something that teachers may provide,” explains Jonas Ravn, and continues: “The biggest challenge that teachers are faced with is understanding how young people utilise social media because it requires that you get acquainted with their ways of being social and interacting, and gathering some information about social media – but pupils can assist with that.”

Openness and trust are key elements when working with digital education. It is about creating a culture where children find it natural to turn to adults if they experience any conflicts. Pupils need adult role models to show them the way and who encourage them to think about how they use social media. That’s why it is important that teachers are equipped to speak with pupils, and that they establish a healthy net culture – this is exactly what Jonas Ravn hopes to get across on his school visits. The purpose of Jonas’ school presentations is to generate discussion and reflection among pupils, and have them think about moral dilemmas and consequences arising from using social media:

“I believe a lot of it is about activating a class culture and creating a better understanding of the fact that, ‘everyone doesn’t necessarily agree with me.’ Pupils must be aware that our boundaries are different, and they have to learn to be attentive to when they step over the boundaries of themselves or those of other people – this is of utmost importance when learning to interact on social media, and can lead to an ethically proper online-behavior,” says Jonas Ravn.

You won’t tell anyone, okay?

By Camilla Tang Jensen, communicator, CfDP

“Hi, and welcome to our chat.” This is how Linea Pretzmann always initiates the conversation when meeting a young person on Cyberhus. “We always start out by welcoming our young people and letting them know that they should feel free to talk about anything on Cyberhus – including issues that are really difficult to talk about. And that we are not telling others,” says Linea. Linea Pretzmann has been a counsellor with Cyberhus for three years. Each year, she helps counsel and guide more than 8,000 children and young people in Denmark about everything from heart-aches to eating-disorders, violence and abuse:

Anonymous chat counselling

Photo: Gorm Olesen

“Cyberhus offers counselling for all young people, and this also means that we meet youngsters, each carrying their very own issues. I’ll meet 12-year-old Nikolaj who thinks a girl is cute, and then I’ll meet someone who has been victim of sexual abuse, violence or other types of abuse – maybe on the same day they are making their request to Cyberhus,” Linea Pretzmann explains.

Young people are often alone with their problems

Linea Pretzmann experiences that a lot of children and young people, with whom she is in contact, are struggling all alone. Some of them have tried talking to an adult with no result, and others are carrying issues so heavy that they are afraid to share them with someone else:

“Typically, young people who join our chat feel isolated. They feel like they don’t have anywhere else to go – either because it’s been quite awhile since they have talked to others about their problems, or because they have tried talking to someone but have been rejected. For instance, I was chatting with a girl who, after a while, wrote: ‘But you probably won’t listen either!’ And this is a very common remark from our youngsters. Therefore, our most important task as counsellors is being an adult the youngster can trust – because typically they do not trust other adults,” says Linea Pretzmann.

“It is often difficult for counsellors to reach groups of isolated youngsters – precisely because they feel let down and do not trust adults. So, they find it difficult to open up and share their problems with others,” Linea Pretzmann explains.

Anonymous chat counselling

Photo: Gorm Olesen

Anonymity is the most important factor

A fair amount of youngsters, who seek out Cyberhus’ chat counselling, are scared of what consequences may arise if they tell others about their problems. This particularly applies to young people who have been victims of violence or abuse from someone they know, for instance a parent. The fear of what might happen to them, or to the person who has done the abuse, is very present. Therefore, it is vital that Cyberhus’ chat counselling is anonymous, Linea Pretzmann deems. She is convinced there would be a large group of young people that counsellors would not be able to reach, had their chat counselling not been anonymous:

“Their greatest fear is what they share will find its way to other people. So, youngsters often begin by writing: ‘You won’t tell anyone, okay?’ And they ask me who I am, and whether I will pass on their information to someone. Usually, we encourage our young people to address their city counsel, but this is really difficult for them because they are not able to remain anonymous, and generally they are scared of what might happen to them or to their parent after telling someone. For these reasons, I believe it is extremely difficult to reach youngsters, who have had horrible experiences, unless we offer anonymous chat – and when interacting in our chatroom there is no risk that we pass on their secret.”

Many youngsters feel guilt and shame about what have happened to them. So, often it is easier for them to write about their problems in a chatroom rather than telling an adult face-to-face.

“It feels taboo-breaking for many of our young people to make contact with a physical counselling. It requires greater investment than that of entering a chatroom where you are able to sit in comfortable surroundings of your own room, and quickly log out again if you feel overwhelmed. For many of our youngsters, the road to a physical counselling therefore feels longer, and they may change their minds several times before they arrive,” explains Linea Pretzmann and stresses: “Thus, the anonymity on Cyberhus is the single most important factor. I am absolutely convinced that precisely the anonymity helps attract so many young people,” Linea concludes.

Are you empathetic? Prove it!

By Jonas Sindal, consultant and project manager, CfDP

skills-connect-workshop

Business and young people working together to improve opportunities for young people entering the job market.

When you are young and applying for your first job, it can be extremely difficult to visualise the skills and abilities that are, in fact, most important to an employer. If you do not have any work experience to refer to, one’s CV is apt to quickly become a collection of empty set phrases.

However, many young people have lots to offer. They have spent the first 15-25 years of their lives becoming whole people, learning social skills, language, and a variety of other complex skills that are merely waiting to be put into play in a leisure, study -, summer holiday or full-time job.

Uncertainty and rejections

The importance of one’s first job is great for a young person. After several years of school, it feels like a quantum leap suddenly making your own money, or having to be responsible to an employer and often also customers. But if you lack the proper network to draw on, this process can also be full of uncertainty and rejections.

This autumn, CfDP has teamed with British YouthNet with a focus on developing digital courses that will help increase young people’s awareness of their inherent resources while also increasing the visibility of these resources to potential employers. When completing the course, participants will receive a digital badge that can be inserted into their CV/website. The phenomenon of ‘digital badging’ is growing abroad, but in Denmark it is still relatively unknown.

The most important quality

First, we develop a single badge which hopefully will be the start of a new trend concerning young people’s skills. The digital course should be free and available to everyone. The specific design is underway, and we have implemented a creative workshop involving a group of young people and representatives from the business community to find out what resources the two parties felt would be important to highlight in order to boost job prospects.

The most popular features that the young party of our workshop focussed on were empathy and tact. Properties which, according to our young people, are as important as they are difficult to convey in a resume or in an interview. Our business representatives favored perseverance as an important quality.

What is People Skills?

Over christmas, CfDP and YouthNet will collaborate on developing our first badge which can best be described as ‘People Skills’. But how would a course in empathy be carried out? A young person from our workshop suggested that you could show a series of complex facial expressions and ask participants of the course to put into words how the pictured person may feel. Another task may be reading a short piece of text about a conflict and then having to describe in words how the involved parties may have felt.

We look forward to venture further into the actual design of the first course. Obviously, empathy is a challenging skill to acquire from an E-course, so initially our aim is to make young people aware of their inherent resources, rather than learning them from scratch.

Enthusiasm for the concept

At the workshop, it was clear from the start that no one had heard of digital badging, and only one in five had tried taking a digital course. All participant, however, agreed that they would be very interested in taking a course if it was free and aimed at young people. Several of them could easily imagine sharing a badge on facebook and possibly attach a badge as part of their email signature.

The participants were convinced that digital badging would become common in the future, and they looked forward to being able to compose their own palette of badges in order to show their full breadth of job-relevant properties.

Learn more about Skills Connect: cfdp.dk/skills-connect-2/

This project is funded by the ERASMUS Programme

Counsellors and youths welcome new chat counselling

By Camilla Tang Jensen, communicator, CfDP

“A greater number of young people have made their way to our chat counselling than any number we have ever had come through our physical counselling,” says Johnny Szumlanski who is the chat counsellor responsible of Bispebjerg chat counselling. Szumlanski and other counsellors from Bispebjerg have evaluated their new chat counselling, and it has been warmly received by counsellors as well as youngsters.

“Offering chat counselling, we are now able to provide our youngsters with an option that is completely different from other counsellings. We can offer young people a continuing chat conversation where they are able to arrange a new session with the same counsellor they have already met in our chatroom and to whom they might have built some trust. Also, we have the opportunity to meet our youngsters face-to-face if such a need arises – no other chat counselling offers that opportunity,” explains Johnny Szumlanski.


Cyberhus.dk

Cyberhus.dk where Copenhagen offer their anonymous chat counselling


A growing need for digital youth counselling

Bispebjerg’s chat counselling is an example of a new collaboration opportunity which Cyberhus have presented to municipal youth counsellings. Bispebjerg’s chatroom is open twice a week, and even though there has not been much marketing, youngsters have still found their way to the chatroom every time a youth counsellor has been present and ready to chat. Johnny Szumlanski says that the Bispebjerg-chat is an effort to meet a growing need in children and young people, with whom they are in daily contact, and which they have been aware of for quite some time:

“I’m experiencing a great need for us, the youth counsellors, to start using digital media when counselling children and young people. Youngsters do not get less digital over time – on the contrary. And as counsellors, we have to meet our young people where they are. Our chat counselling offers youngsters better opportunities for getting in contact with us – particularly young people who find it difficult to visit our physical counselling in person,” says Johnny Szumlanski. Szumlanski also explains that youngsters are already requesting more resources in the chatroom. For instance, someone wrote and asked if it was possible for Bispebjerg counselling to have more counsellors available in the chatroom, because one day he had waited more than 30 min. for his turn.

Anonymous chat is a platform for new questions

Johnny Szumlanski explains that a completely new group of young people are asking new types of questions after having started Bispebjerg chat counselling. For instance, a greater number of young guys are seeking advice and asking questions about emotions and sex, which is something the counsellors of Bispebjerg have never experienced:

“I’ve been a youth counsellor for 15 years, so I’ve spoken to hundreds of young people, and I have never heard a boy ask questions about sex and feelings, unless it’s a boy that I’ve known very well and for a long time. It’s a subject that boys typically find very difficult to talk about. That is why we’ve never had such requests from boys before. However, that has changed now that we’re offering chat counselling,” says Johnny Szumlanski.

Young people ask questions in chat counsellings which they do not put forward face-to-face. Johnny Szumlanski explains that the reason for this is the fact that chat counselling is anonymous, and thus boundaries are pushed regarding young people’s forwardness with counsellors. Youngsters therefore feel more safe sharing their emotions and talking about subject matters which they do not bring to light somewhere else.

“For example, a guy chatted about his girlfriend problems. He wrote that he felt upset and that he was not able to sleep at night because he was thinking about a girl. He did not know if this girl liked him, and he was in great doubt what he should do. Of course, this is one of our more “lightweight” questions, but it is still something that means a lot to young people in their teenage lives,” says Johnny Szumlanski, and continues:

”We also had a 15-year-old guy who wrote us. He’d been going steady with his girlfriend for some time, and they wanted to sleep together, but she was not 15 until another two months. They REALLY liked each other, he wrote in capital letters, so they found it difficult to wait. But at the same time, he was afraid what might happen, because he knew that sex before 15 years of age is illegal.”

According to Johnny Szumlanski, all gives evidence to the fact that chat counselling helps boys open up. However, although chat counselling generally invites young people to talk about new types of issues, Johnny Szumlanski explains that a great number of youngsters also address issues which Bispebjerg’s counsellors are familiar with from their youth counselling.


Cyberhus.dk

Copenhagen’s chat counselling on Cyberhus.dk


Digital media creates new challenges

As part of their co-operation agreement, Cyberhus has helped prepare Bispebjerg’s chat counsellors to give counsel via digital media and meeting different challenges that may arise. Also, Bispebjerg continues its dialogue with Cyberhus and receives professional sparring from Cyberhus-counsellors. Johnny Szumlanski does not hide the fact that they step into new territory and that it is different to counsel young people via digital media, but that does not scare him.

”Of course it’s new and different to give counsel in a chatroom, but basically we would like young people to reflect – as they do when we speak to a youngster in our physical counselling. And you continue to be educated,” says Johnny Szumlanski:

”As a youth counselling, we must open our doors the best way possible to be able to meet our young people when they reach out, and in order that they receive their preferred type of counselling. This way, we ensure that we reach and help more young people out there. So far, we have a 10 time greater success rate with our chat counselling than that of our physical counterpart, and this clearly shows that our chat counselling is popular among young people, so we will definitely continue,” Szumlanski concludes.

Stop Bullying: ENABLE Hackathon

By Anni Marquard, Head of centre, CfDP

We would like to give thanks for being announced one of the winners of the ENABLE Hackathon; young people all over the world were given the opportunity to contribute their own solutions and ideas on how to stop bullying. Below, you can take a look at the video which the Hackathon-team of Cyberhus (Denmark) submitted to the ENABLE Hackathon:

100 young people between the ages of 9-17 and 35 mentors from 15 different countries
For many children and young people today bullying can be a very challenging issue, but rarely do they get the chance to respond to that challenge by designing their own solutions that could be implemented on a broad scale. Responding to the challenge has been the objective of the ENABLE Hackathon which invited young people, together with an adult mentor, to reflect on the causes and process of bullying and use their creative and coding skills to propose solutions.

Well over 100 young people aged 9-17 years and 35 mentors from 15 different countries worldwide participated in the Hackathon which was launched in June 2015. The Hackathon closed in September and ENABLE received more than 30 anti-bullying tools and testimonials as submissions.

We are happy to announce that the 6 top teams are: Denmark (Animoto), Germany (an App), the Netherlands (Peer Project), Costa Rica (Treelp), Egypt (S!BB) and Ukraine (Presentation).

These teams will gather, face-to-face and virtually, at Facebook London next Tuesday morning to meet with pupils, parents, press, decision-makers, teachers and experts to demonstrate their solutions and receive recognition for their efforts. Equally importantly, the Hackathon submissions have provided a wealth of information about how young people would like to tackle bullying.

3 things that will help shape our work
Janice Richardson, coordinator of ENABLE and member of Facebook’s Safety Advisory Board, assisted at the jury meeting: “The solutions proposed through the Hackathon highlighted 3 things that will help shape our work in the coming year. Young people are grappling with the concept of empathy, which underlines the need to improve social and emotional learning in schools, and they don’t seem to think that teachers or parents can help them find solutions when they are troubled by bullying. Lastly, they place little focus on addressing the behaviour of the bully.”

Releasing research report
Today ENABLE is also releasing a research report at http://enable.eun.org that highlights the importance of all 3 lessons learned from the Hackathon and provides the foundation on which the ENABLE approach is built. Immediately following the Hackathon showcase event in London, 25 ambassadors from a half dozen countries will take part in a 2-day training session where they will learn to implement Social and Emotional Learning in schools, and implement a holistic approach that involves activities for pupils, but also for parents and teachers. The training will also tackle the delicate issue of working with bullies, since research has shown us that, in up to 60% of cases (Olweus), bullying behaviour as a child can be a predictor for deviant or violent behaviour as an adult.

ENABLE strives to contribute to the wellbeing of ALL young people, both on- and offline; it is supported by associate partners from the industry and guided by an advisory board of 12 international experts.

partnerbillede

Have you been nude online? New material for children and young people

By Jonas Ravn, speaker and project manager, CfDP

Action as well as prevention

There may be numerous reasons why children and young people send intimate pictures of themselves. For example, someone may want to show that they trust their boy/girlfriend, or that they are brave, or they may simply want to show off their new bikini, not considering that others may abuse their picture. Our new material provides practical tools for children and young people who have experienced their intimate pictures being shared. It may also be used for prevention and for various learning contexts.

Order free booklets or download our material (in Danish)

npn

The material is made in a collaboration between Centre for Digital Youth Care, Save the Children Denmark, and the Media Council for Children and Young People. It consists of a small printed booklet, “So you got naked online?”, and a more extensive online version.

The booklet provides practical information on how children and young people may get help to deal with their situation, how to regain control, and ensure a good digital reputation in the future.

Download our material online or order free booklets for 6-8 graders at Save the Children Denmark.

So you got naked online – large – (you can also download the pdf)

So you got naked online – mini version – (you can also download the pdf)

The Danish booklet is a revised version of the English material from South West Grid for Learning. It is produced by Save the Children Denmark, Centre for Digital Youth Care, and the Media Council for Children and Young People (Safer Internet Centre Denmark) with financial support from the EU.

Download the original material in English from South West Grid for Learning

booklet

So you got naked online… – toolkit (pdf)

So you got naked online… – flyer (pdf)

These are the original booklets produced by South West Grid for Learning. We appreciate the opportunity to be able to use the material by South West Grid for Learning for our Danish versions of “So you got naked” ressources.

Presence through the screen?

Johnny Szumlanski and Linea Pretzmann are both chat counsellors at respectively Bispebjerg youth counselling and Cyberhus.dk. In their counselling, they meet young people who experience everything from heartaches and genital warts to serious violence and sexual assault. But regardless of the seriousness of the young person’s problems, the two chat counsellors see no problems in creating presence when giving counsel via digital media.

“You can easily be empathetic and present even though you cannot look each other in the eye. Naturally, you create presence in a chat room in other ways than you would in a physical setting. When our young people show up at Bispebjerg youth counselling, the presence is immediate when they enter the door; I welcome them and ask if they would like something to drink. Obviously, I do not have that option in a chat room. So I create presence by the way I write to our young people,” says Johnny Szumlanski, who together with his colleagues, has advised children and young people at Bispebjerg youth counselling via chat since December 2014.

Many counsellors are nervous they won’t be able to read young people’s signals when they cannot see their facial expressions. Linea Pretzmann has been a youth counsellor with Cyberhus for 3 years, and she agrees with Johnny Szumlanski. She believes you should not be afraid that you cannot create a relationship with young people or read their signals via anonymous chat:

“It actually does not require great, complicated therapeutic techniques. It’s about accommodating our youngsters and their problems, and meeting them in their difficulties. We obviously cannot see the young person to whom we give counsel via chat. So we always ask how they are doing, and we ask questions such as: ‘Is it okay that I ask you about this? If it becomes too much for you, or if I’m asking questions you don’t want to answer, then feel free to say no – it’s perfectly okay,” explains Linea Pretzmann concerning some considerations underlying Cyberhus’ chat counselling.

Openness, inclusiveness and recognition

Linea Pretzmann and Johnny Szumlanski both explain that openness, inclusiveness, and recognition are keywords that identify how they chat with young people, and they both believe that these aspects are crucial for creating meaningful relationships with young people. Johnny Szumlanski says that it is largely through questions, directed at the young people seeking counselling, that he makes the conversation present. That is why he is always very attentive to how he formulates his questions:

“I am very focussed that I ask questions that are non-judgemental, open, appreciative and which provides the youngster some needed space. Our youngsters must first and foremost be allowed to share difficult issues. Furthermore, I ask about what our young people have at heart, and I’m curious about what they are telling me. This is how I let them know that I care – even though they can’t see me. And when you care about someone, you create presence,” explains Johnny Szumlanski.

On several occasions, Linea Pretzmann has experienced that young people, carrying very heavy issues, have addressed Cyberhus’ chat room, and in some situations it may be difficult, as a counsellor, not to be affected when a young person shares their story that they been sexually molested that same day. But Linea stresses that it is important not to get affected, and not be judgemental of what the youngster shares:

“You create presence by listening to the youngster’s problem and not assuming you know how they feel about the person who assaulted them, for instance a parent. It is of great importance for our young people that they know you understand that their parents are not unpleasant people in general. You try to create a balanced view by saying: ‘What your father is doing sounds really uncomfortable for you, and it is very wrong of him. But I recognise that he also has some good sides that you like.’ You have to respect the fact that they may have a fairly close relationship with their perpetrator – It is my experience that this indeed helps our dialogue with our youngsters,” says Linea Pretzmann.

You build trust and make young people feel safe

A typical feature about a group of young people who come to our chat counselling is often that they are in some kind of an emergency. So, as a chat counsellor you have to be aware that youngsters often address our chat when they are at their most low. Therefore, their emotions may be up in arms and they may find it difficult to reflect on and accommodate the counsellor’s questions. Usually, in those situations, our counsellors initiate the chat by talking about issues that are easier for our youngsters to talk about. For example, we may ask about how our young people have been doing today. Sometimes, it may in fact be something that’s happened during the day that has triggered a given conflict, explains Linea Pretzmann, and by talking generally about one’s day, you may be able to circle the issue at hand.

Other times, young people may address issues they have a hard time broaching. Many youngsters may chat for a long time before they get to the heart of their problem. Particularly when young people address heavy issues, does it take time and demands trust before they share their feelings, explains Linea Pretzmann:

“If our young people find it hard putting words to their problem, often you can help them by asking yes-/no-questions. ‘Does it have anything to do with your mother?’, ‘No’, ‘Is it something at school?’, ‘No’, Has it got something to do with your friend?’, ‘Yes’, ‘Okay.’ Using this approach you may slowly find out what someone really wants to talk about.”

A hug over the keyboard

Our young people cannot see the counsellors in our chat room. That is why our counsellors need to articulate empathy and comfort in ways that are otherwise possible in the physical world. For example, counsellors may give our young people a hug via the keyboard.

“If, for example, someone writes they are sad, a counsellor may give a verbal hug by responding: ‘I do understand it’s very difficult for you right now. It sounds like you are upset so here is a hug over the keyboard.’ Obviously, this never replaces a real hug but it is our way of showing our young people that there’s a real person on the other end who actually listens to them and who cares about them,” says Linea Pretzmann.

Often the verbal hug helps young people open up to us. Their messages typically become more elaborate and detailed when they feel safe and when they are confident the counsellors are listening to them and accommodating them when they are sad. However, sometimes we do not always succeed in creating a solid contact with our young people from the get-go. In those situations, it is important that you, as a counsellor, is analytical and compassionate about what the youngster is writing, and also that you are able to articulate the signals you receive from them:

“If someone provides very, very short replies, usually it is a sign that the contact is not effective. In order to establish presence and getting a bit closer to our youngsters in those situations, you may write: ‘I have a feeling that we’re not talking about the things you really would like to talk about. Is that correct?’ Other times, you may sense that you are asking questions which the youngster feels uncomfortable answering. In those situations, I usually write:

It sounds like it’s really difficult for you to talk about this. Is that true? Would you rather that we talk about something else first? In those situations, you as a counsellor, is responsible for finding other topics to chat about, and usually you find some. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a contact not being restored,” explains Linea Pretzmann.

The chat must help young people feel safe

Often it is easier for young people to get in touch with a chat counselling rather than reaching out to a physical counselling, partly because chat counselling allows them to remain anonymous. Therefore, a lot of young people share issues in our chat counselling they have not yet told others in their social circle. But the chat is not intended to be a substitute to seeking help elsewhere – on the contrary, it must be considered a first step toward supporting young people opening up and sharing problems they would otherwise carry by themselves.

So, chat counsellors focus on preparing young people to seek help, either within their immediate relationships or with an adult they trust. Johnny Szumlanski and Linea Pretzmann are always very aware of what resources their young people seem to hold – both within themselves as well as resources attained to their close relationships. And counsellors then try to make their youngsters confident in utilising those resources.

“Chat counselling is a very good option for young people who sit at home alone in their room with a problem they do not wish to say out loud. It provides new opportunities for them to talk to an adult. Then, of course, you may question whether it substitutes talking to others about their problem. However, I view chatting as an opportunity to make youngsters feel secure enough to share their problems with others,” concludes Linea Pretzmann. And Johnny Szumlanski agrees – he is certain that anonymous chat counselling creates new opportunities for a large group of children and young people who would otherwise not get help.

By Camilla Tang Jensen, communications consultant, CfDP.

This article is originally posted in Danish.

We meet loyal users in our chat rooms

April showers bring May flowers, or so they say. Not exactly validating the truth of such a statement, it was however just how we felt when CfDP’s online counselling for children and young people, Cyberhus, earlier this year, encountered a minor technical mishap.

In late December, an error occurred during the update of Cyberhus which meant that Google and other search engines displayed Cyberhus much less in their search results than previously. Since more than 80% of our approximately 35,000 monthly visitors come from google and other search engines, it was obviously a mistake of significance.

Throughout 2014, Cyberhus had more than 35,000 visitors on average each month, as mentioned earlier. A number that, by the way, has been steadily growing since the beginning of Cyberhus in 2004. However, during January this year ⅓ of our visitors suddenly disappeared so that “only” a little more than 10,000 users clicked their way to Cyberhus.

The error has been corrected, and we have made the necessary measures to prevent similar errors from happening in the future. I must admit, I lack the technical insight to be able to explain how the error occurred, however, I would like to say a couple of words about our pedagogical aha-moment that came in the wake of our technical incident.

Pedagogical aha-moment

In previous posts I have explained how many young people read “over people’s shoulder” every single time we provide replies on our problem pages, or every time a youngster asks for advice in our debate forums. Up to 20 users are looking at our posts every time we give a reply. So, fortunately the decrease in visitors in January did not mean that our consultative activity decreased by ⅓, since an essential parts of those who visit Cyberhus “merely” watch other’s activity without being active themselves.

But we also noticed there was less traffic in our consultative activities; in January we had a small decrease in the number of posts compared to what we usually see during the month of January, both on our problem pages, in our debate forums and on other features of cyberhus.

<pHowever, in our 1-1 chat, the activity did not decline. Actually, we saw a small increase in the number of active young people. It provides us with a clear picture that young people who use our chat are probably youngsters who already have a thorough knowledge of Cyberhus, and not young people who find us via google, and “suddenly” get the urge to chat.

The typical chatters

We always assumed that the majority of users in our 1-1 chat are young people who are so well acquainted with Cyberhus, and the way we advise, that they feel comfortable enough to engage in 1-1 chat conversations with an adult. We find it difficult to substantiate this assumption as our privacy policy means that we cannot recognize each youngster from each session. However, the incident in January has now confirmed this assumption of ours.

We continually work to improve coherence between our chat counsellings, where we believe we have a solid hold on vulnerable youngsters, and the public youth counsellings which are often the next step toward a better life for our young people. Conversations in chat rooms are in many ways the closest we come to having a physical conversation with our users, since the communications takes place here and now and are more dialogical than discussions in a debate or posts on our problem pages. Still, users experience the step from our anonymous digital counselling to municipal physical youth counsellings as insurmountable great.

Easier access to our municipalities

That is why we find it crucial that municipal counsellings, more so, embrace digital platforms and offer chat counselling to their young citizens seeking advice. We often chat with young people whom we very much would like to refer to a municipal unit that can provide the help that we are not able to offer. It is our municipalities that have the necessary resources which can help each youngster forward on their path.

But way too many young people reject such municipal contact because it often requires that they, as a minimum, must contact their municipal over the phone. A lot of the young people we meet are not ready for that at all… which is precisely why they have chosen digital counselling.

Provided that young people are able to chat with their local youth counsellor, they would definitely be more inclined to accept a referral to their municipality. And if they have met their local youth counsellor in a chat room, as a first step, maybe the gap to reaching the phone, or going to a physical meeting, is not that wide.

This article is originally posted in Danish.

Ask.fm – we are driven by the drama!

Currently, CfDP receives quite a few questions about Ask.fm. If you have been travelling space the past two months you might not have heard about the new craze and the many stories of bullying in the media. In this article, I will briefly attempt to clarify what fascinates people about Ask, and why it is a good idea to be on the sidelines as parents or professionals.

What is Ask.fm?

Ask.fm has been around about 5 years. Originally based in Lithuania, Ask.fm has recently been acquired and re-branded by an American company. So, Ask is not new at all; however, the Danish interest is. Two years ago we saw a lot of media coverage on a similar social medium, Formspring, much in the media of the exact same reasons Ask is in the media now: Cases of bullying occur because one has the opportunity to remain anonymous. Basically, Ask is built on the concept that people “ask each other questions.” You create a profile, connect it to other social media to find friends, and you are ready to go. All profiles are public, so you can ask questions to complete strangers, if you like. A principal function of Ask is that you can choose to ask question anonymously; a feature that most people choose when they ask questions.

A lot of the questions asked are completely ordinary: Do you like Coca cola or Pepsi? Or semi-ironic:

“Deer or Dolphin?”
“Dolphin!”

Other questions concern trivialities of everyday life and experiences of being young.

“Are you a virgin?”
“Um, hope I’ll be alright :))”

In other cases, some sort of border is crossed and questions can quickly turn confrontational. It becomes very easy to “cast bullets”:

“I really don’t care what you call me, I hope you know that Sigurd fingered her but that’s how it goes. Too bad you don’t believe me but that’s just how it is. just telling you to be nice”
“If you’re so sure it’s true, would it do any harm to message me privately?”

“I dare you to send a picture of you taking a dump?”
“Yes, post your snap and I’ll get you a shitty picture ;)”

“Isn’t Zandra just totally demanding of attention and annoying sometimes?”
“Why do you ask?”

“Why are you badmouthing Fie and her girlfriends?”
“When have I ever talked bad about Fie, she’s a lovely girl, have nothing bad to say about her??? And who are her girlfriends? Couldn’t have badmouthed anyone who I don’t know, this is just too dumb hahahah”

“How do you feel that Mendez is talking shit about you?”
“That’s kind of sad. She can say whatever she wants, don’t care too much but I didn’t really expect it from her”

“Are you only 170 cm tall!?”
“No I’m 173”

A modern version of Truth or Dare

To understand the fascination of Ask, as an adult, one has to remember their own teenage years. You may remember the game of Truth or dare where you can ask each other intimate and personal questions? Or the anonymous “you are cute” message from someone at school? Teenagers’ play with identity certainly also takes place on the web. It can quickly become very intriguing; and it can actually also be a solid tool to help understanding “the other sex” or like-minded people. The opportunity to ask things you would not ask face-to-face is extremely appealing. In that sense, it is a good idea to offer youngsters an outlet to ask questions about teenage life which could easily be somewhat embarrassing to ask in the physical world.

Cyberhus, for instance, has successfully been running a project where people are able to share body secrets with one another. In this case, it is only positive that one can step out of the spotlight for awhile. Only, the problem is that anonymity is often equated with people letting their inner beast out. A lot of youngsters unfortunately choose to abuse the functionality of anonymity, and they get nasty towards each other.

Normally, my position on social media is that mostly there is no such thing as wrong social media but rather wrong ways to use them. Ask.fm kind of challenges that thought because lots of profiles contain material that creates conflict. If a social medium deliberately creates that much conflict, in this context, it may also be appropriate to warn against the medium itself. However, I also believe there are many positive ways to use anonymity. So I would rather that we broadly teach young people about faceless communication and cyberethics. How does it affect the real human beings on the other side of the screen who are faced with very negative comments? How do we define sound and moral use of Ask.fm?

Over the years, speaking to youngsters at schools about the fascination of Formspring, and now Ask, a lot of students tell me that the driving force is THE DRAMA! The fact that Ask almost guarantees a reality-like atmosphere makes the platform exciting to visit and follow. Conflict is a difficult news criterion to compete with, but young people need to learn there are real people on the other side – and real consequences of one’s actions.

How can you advice on good use of Ask.fm?

First of all, you have to understand that EVERYTHING is public on Ask. When you create a profile on Ask.fm, nothing can be done to prevent others from seeing the questions you get asked. As parents or professionals, it provides excellent insight into young people’s lives of codes and identity. Go to Ask, search a name, and get a glimpse of young people’s online lives.

Spotting any abuse of the service, you should encourage people to block and report the abuse. By reporting abuse you help stop the teasing on their part but possibly also that of others. You can inform youngsters about the option of using Aks.fm’s built-in privacy settings.Using these settings, you can choose NOT to allow anonymous questions. This will most definitely eradicate the worst bullying. However, it will (probably) also remove 90% of the questions you would otherwise get asked, which in effect is often why people allow anonymous questions.

Age requirements on Ask.fm

You should also read and pass on Ask.fm’s abuse policy which provides clear insight into what Ask, themselves, view as wrong usage of their service. Comparable to most other social media, Ask has an age requirement of 13. As a parent, I very much believe you should consider enforcing that age limit on Ask; The amount of conflict is vast, and cases of misunderstandings and bullying are more likely to occur, the younger you are. Finally, it is a good idea to inform our young people that anonymity also has a limit. Crossing legal boundaries is reportable to the police, and Ask is then able to locate the owner of a given profile.

Although it may be difficult, it is important to make an effort to emphasize with people’s fascination of Ask, and not just focussing on the misuse. However hidden it may sometimes seem, Ask and other similar services also have some strong qualities that actually help young people during their teenage years.

This article is originally posted in Danish.

Boys need an assist!

In Denmark CfDP is developing a new counselling site targeting young boys. From january 2015 we have taken the first steps to identify young boys’ needs and today we have come up with various design solutions which we will gently unveil in this article. With this project we hope to present some valuable insight to our European collaborators.

The platform of the project will be a specifically designed variation of the online youth counselling tools that exist in Denmark today. We have chosen to maintain our focus on today’s internet communication technologies on which we have built some solid pedagogical practices. Using targeted variations based on ethnographic research, we are now in the process of making our applied ICT’s more relevant for boys to seek out.

Boys typically count for only about 20-30 percent of users of Danish online counsellings, and it is this unfavourable balance between the sexes which our new counselling will try to improve. Similar scenarios seem to exist in most of Europe, and successful experiences with boys counsellings are in demand. Nothing seems to suggest that boys have significantly fewer problems than girls, and at Cyberhus we oftentimes meet boys who are really frustrated with the way we run our counselling.

Read more about boys’ concern in this article introducing the concept of our counselling for boys.

What characterise the boys in our counselling?

Our interviews with young boys and counsellors identify a number of characteristics present in boys’ relationship to counselling, and those findings help us in our design process:

  • It takes longer for boys to open up for their emotions
  • Boys are more dependent on building trust to a counsellor before they share their emotions
  • Boys do not care to show signs of vulnerability or “weakness”
  • Boys do not care to “feel” and seek answers within themselves, but are more prone to experiment with tangible advice of action
  • Boys appreciate quantitative feedback
  • Boys appreciate functional aesthetics over visual aesthetics

 

Earlier in the process, we identified a very significant challenge that boys, more so than girls, find it difficult to show their vulnerability to others as well as themselves. In a counselling context, an awareness of one own’s vulnerability is a prerequisite to actually acknowledging a problem and then seeking help. We have tried to meet this challenge by looking for “acceptable needs of help” in other spheres of boys’ daily lives.

Cross-what?

When you cross-appropriate, you take a practice or a concept from one context and adopt it to another context. This way the world constantly evolves; for instance when partisan scarfs become fashion objects, or when potluck suppers become dating events. At CfDP we focus our work on cross-appropriation when developing new concepts, and in our boys project we have focused on identifying acceptable needs of help.

We have found such needs in the world of sports as well as in computer gaming. Through many years, there has been a particular awareness of the value of a partner’s help in the sports of ice hockey. The English term “assist” describes the final passing to a player before he scores a goal. The term has spread and is now used in particularly soccer, basketball and handball in which players are acknowledged when they give good assists. Over the last couple of years, the term has also spread to online gaming where players can ask other players for an assist if they have to conquer a specifically difficult enemy. In gaming, players receive points for their assists and it is this form of practice which we are now transferring to our new counselling.

You simply do not receive counselling, you get assists.

Gamification

Besides adopting the idea of an “assist,” we have also looked at some methods in the field of gaming and are incorporating gamification strategies into the counselling setting itself. Partly, we want to give boys a counselling-avatar and also, we want to experiment rewarding boys points and pay recognition for the good assists they give each other on the platform.

The core of the platform will be a debate forum inspired by the developers forum stackoverflow.com who have incorporated solid structures of motivation on their forum. Unlike Stackoverflow however, our new counselling will integrate special assists from adults as an optional part of the forum which users can choose to include as a supplement to the assists they receive from the site’s other young users.

We will update this blog with information on how we will integrate adults in our young-to-young forum as well as details on implementing the functionality of chat.

The project will run until 2017 in partnership with TUBA, and is sponsored by the Velux foundation. The platform is expected to go live during this summer’s school break.

Should you have any questions about this project, please contact concept developer Jonas Sindal.

This article is originally posted in Danish.

10 years on, and still young people’s preferred clubhouse

2014 marked the 10th year where children and young people could get a helping hand in Centre for Digital Youth Care’s online counselling, Cyberhus. In connection to this, I will look back on how we gradually grew from being a very small place for young people, offering one chat room, one single problem page, and only a small number of counsellors, to now offering a wide variety of activities and features, and involving more than 60 volunteers.

Directed more toward young people than adults

ChartGo (1)

As is clearly evident by the graph, showing the development of young people’s activity on Cyberhus during the last decade, there is a clear tendency that young people increasingly are using Cyberhus as a place where they can relate to others and seek advice among their peers.
The numbers match our pedagogical vision that Cyberhus is, and must continue to be, much more than “just” a counselling. Cyberhus must be the virtual counterpart to the physical clubhouse in which youth are able to share experiences, seek support, or just hang out with peers.

As the activity in our Youth-to-Youth section, which today accomodates our Debate forum, Life Stories, Group chat, Images, Secrets, and Blogs, continues to rise, the activity in our Youth-to-Adult section, which includes 1-1Chat and our Problem pages, has decreased.

Even though the decrease of close to 300 inquiries in our Youth-to-adult section may seem prominent, we do not interpret that to express that young people no longer wish to use Cyberhus as an offer for counselling when they need help from adults. In order to understand the decrease we have to take a closer look at the numbers.

A little perspective

First, we have to separate our 1-1Chat and our problem pages. The number of questions asked on our problem pages have actually increased from 1582 in 2013 to 1783 in 2014, so there is no doubt that our young people still very much want to turn to us for advice.

This of course means that the corresponding decrease in the number of requests in our 1-1Chat has been relatively significant; going from 2002 chat sessions in 2002 to 1503 sessions in 2013. Fortunately, the decrease cannot be explained by a lacking interest from our young people.

June of 2014, we sadly had to cut down the number of chat sessions due to lack of funding. Our 1-1Chat is always monitored by a paid coordinator whose tasks include supporting our volunteer counsellors and as such, securing the quality of our counselling work.

A significant part of the requests we receive in our 1-1Chat concern very difficult issues such as self-harm, abuse, and thoughts of suicide. Sometimes we chat with young people who are in need of urgent help. Therefore, we will not compromise the available support and sparring to our counsellors. When we no longer had the necessary payroll funds to sustain the same number of working hours as in 2013, it was clear that we had to reduce our opening hours.

Naturally we hope that in time we will have the opportunity to expand our opening hours again and provide more young people the option of reaching out to an adult and get help.

What are young people addressing?

Taking a closer look at the issues young people address, we can see a big difference whether they turn to an adult or other young people. Young people who seek help from adult counsellors in our 1-1Chat and problem pages, are continually mainly young people who have a really tough time. The distribution of issues in 2014 looks like this:

1. Self-harm, suicidal thoughts, sexual abuse, violence, eating disorders, and mental illnesses count for 40 percent of Cyberhus’ total number of requests.

2. Issues such as bullying, loneliness, grief, and lack of self-esteem count for 23 percent. But also young people who address more “common” youth issues find their way to adult counsellors.

3. This means that the remaining 37 percent of requests concern love, friendship, parents, sexuality, and development of the body.

The distribution looks a bit different if we take a closer look at the activity in our Youth-to-Youth section. Depending on looking at posts on our debate forum, chats in our group chat, or images being uploaded in the gallery, there is of course great variance. But all in all, it is evident that our Youth-to-Youth section holds a greater share of the more “common” issues such as sexuality, love, and friendship. Actually, the picture is turned upside down showing that about 60 percent of all activity in our Youth-to-Youth section concern “common” issues, and “only” about 40 percent of that activity relate to more heavy issues.

And it is exactly that distribution and difference which make Cyberhus unique. There is no question that our primary target group are vulnerable young people who do not thrive and who live a life of both inner and outer chaos. And it is evident that they also seek and support each other through the different features that Cyberhus offers.
But at the same time, we see an equal advantage in regards to our young people’s interaction:

1. meeting other young people who do not experience life the same way

2. options of presenting aspects of themselves that are different from what really hurts

So, sometimes we have some amazing conversations in our group chat when a youth who cuts, is asked, with no prejudice, by people who have never had thoughts of doing self-harm, why they cut. Or when someone, who normally uses our chatroom to address their anxiety, also seeks advice from other young people about the best pointers to hook up with the hot guy in their class.

2015…we can’t wait

2014 marked another exciting, hectic, and at times, magical year. 2014 was the year that Cyberhus’ Secrets section significantly made its entry, and it was also the year that the site of Cyberhus was fine-tuned and made more accessible for our young people. Furthermore, it was the year municipal efforts on the youth field moved into our digital clubhouse.

So, 2014 was the year that marked our first 10 years working within the field of digital pedagogy at Cyberhus.

Now, we are so ready for another year and a new decade! 🙂

This article is originally posted in Danish.

The directory of Viborg (Danish city), and guilty youth

Another media event. The Viborg directory. Naked pictures. Apparently, they are everywhere. Today’s youth share their intimate moments with anyone who takes an interest, peadophiles have easy access to profiles of very young people on Snapchat, and revenge-porn has become a mainstream concept in Danish media’s awareness. At Centre for Digital Youth Care we meet those frustrated young people, the social workers and pedagogical staff, the teachers, and parents. But what is what? Why does it happen, and who are the guilty one(s)?

Why does it happen?

The media development have over the last 3-4 years moved in the direction of a significant change in our communication. A few years ago, we paid 40 pence for sending an mms, and today we are surprised if school busses lack wifi. Kids and young people use “mobile packages” that include loads of gigabyte data, and “free” sms and mms texting. So why not communicate in pictures and video? So, we are not dealing with a new “rawness” in Danish youngsters; rather, we are equipped with possibilities which we would also have used, were they present 10 years ago.

Playing with sexual expressions during teen years is a strong driving force, which have even rational minded young people (and most definitely adults too) dropping major clangers. When I present this issue in the classroom on my school visits, most teenagers know that someone can take a screenshot of their pictures to be shared with whomever – also on Snapchat. However, what is disturbing is that you notice an underlying consensus among young people that it is normal to send and receive naked pictures. Because you can! It is very difficult to go against something that feels mainstream. Considering examples from the “Viborg directory” and other current cases, we must all inform about the completely devastating effects such occurrences have on young people who have been through such experiences.

Who is to blame?

Several Danish media debate who is to blame. The girl who shares her picture with her boyfriend, or the boyfriend who shares the picture with the rest of the world? First of all, it annoys me that all agree that it is always the girl who unconsciously and innocently shares her picture with the guy who then displays his trophy as part of a stone age conquest-ecstasy. More than once, I have visited schools where “weenie-pics” have proved to be the biggest problem – that is, scenarios where boys have sent girls pictures of their private parts, and those girls subsequently saving the pictures in Dropbox, and sharing them. We need to treat this as an issue applying to both sexes. Just to create a nuanced picture of that part of the debate…

Guilt is an utterly useless concept in this debate. Because what do we gain by placing the responsibility with one of two sexes? Nothing. Even though one can rightfully argue that it is a big-time moral deroute when a neglected x-boy/girlfriend tosses pictures up on a revenge-porn site, it is too easy to acquit all those people who initially share their pictures with someone. When posting intimate pictures on the internet one takes a risk that must always be considered by the individual. Fact is that one’s control of every single picture that is uploaded is lost. When you have pressed “send”, the picture cannot be regretted. Guilt is not much of an issue in this; however, it must necessarily entail an ethical co-responsibility. Talking about “victim blaming” when the police urge young girls to stop taking naked-selfies is extremely far-fetched, I believe. Preventive work always refers to risk-behaviour. Young people have to understand that sending naked pictures always connects to specific risks. It’s got nothing to do with blaming the victim, but rather providing young people with basic tools to evaluate risks and act accordingly.

Where are the parents?

This friday evening, Danish television is running a report on a despaired mother who shares her story that her 10-year-old daughter has agreed to send (almost) naked pictures on Snapchat to an extraneous adult man. The police say that there is nothing they can do about anonymous profiles and aliases. Even though I, in no way WHATSOEVER, want to imply that it is acceptable for an adult to communicate with 10-year-old children on Snapchat, we as parents have to stop being so naive. A 10-year-old is absolutely not ready to use Snapchat and Instagram without supervision.

The Danish television report does not at any time mention that Snapchat has an age limit of minimum 13 years of age (and in certain cases 18). We must find all possible means to fight against grooming and pedophillia in cooperation with child care centers, the police, and our domestic environments; however, a vital part of this work starts with the parents providing their child with knowledge and resilience. If you choose to let your child have access to Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram as 10-year-olds, it must as a minimum be accompanied by a course that teaches about usage, along with certain demands (for instance, that one’s Instagram profile is private, and that one only approve followers they know from the physical world).

The interest of parents is a crucial part of the solution. It is necessary to incorporate issues of ethics and risks concerning online behaviour in everyday conversations during child- and late- teen years. From research we know that way too many teenagers feel that their parents rarely or never take an interest in what their teens do online. I actually believe that stories such as the one from Viborg, and similar ones, are contributing to create a heightened awareness in young people if the stories are used constructively by teachers and parents. Let us stop looking for who is most to blame and instead strengthen the moral compass in our young people.

This article is originally posted in Danish.

Social media from a teenager’s point of view

Somewhere between substantial representative studies and qualitative assessments from target groups, you may find the truth about young people’s usage of social media. This January (2015), an American teenager’s view on social media has created a great deal of debate in the States. Danish television has just disclosed “Medieudviklingen 2014” (the development of media 2014). The personal story from the States as well as the analysis by DR (Danish television network) provide interesting results about young people’s fascination as well as annoyance with social media. In this article, I will take a quick look at where I spot similarities and differences compared to Centre for Digital Youth Care’s interaction with Danish young people.

Facebook – no.1, but…

 

It’s dead to us. Facebook is something we all got in middle school because it was cool but now is seen as an awkward family dinner party we can’t really leave.
This is how 19-year-old Andrew Watts describes Facebook in a post on the blog-publishing platform Medium in which he clearly wants to debate how adults present young people’s use of social media. Watts addresses some of the most used social networks, and he hits the nail on the head on several of them. Particularly, his analysis of Facebook matches the tendencies I see myself in teenage students at my presentations. Among others, he describes a duality surrounding Facebook; you do not necessarily want to be there but you have to because Facebook’s group functions and messenger services become an important tool in planning school, free-time, parties and so on.

In the recently launched Medieudviklingen 2014
it is pointed out that Facebook experiences a small setback with Danish people below 30 years of age. At the same time, it is by far the most used social media in Denmark. Also, they underline that 12-29 year olds are not leaving Facebook, but they access Facebook less frequently than they used to.
Recently I experienced (for the first time in 6-7 years) visiting a 7th grade in which four students did not have (and had never had) a Facebook profile. When I asked why they weren’t on Facebook I got two replies:

1) I haven’t discovered/felt the need for that yet.

2) Facebook is too public – I don’t like that everybody can see what I like and comment.

The last point is also one of Watts’ explanations why we see a backset with facebook and a rise with for instance Instagram: “I’m not terrified whenever I like something on Instagram that it will show up in someone’s Newsfeed and they’ll either screenshot that I liked it or reference it later. The same goes for commenting.“

Instagram og Snapchat

 

Watts highlights Instagram as the most used medium. A medium that is not yet overtaken by the older generation. A place where the difference between ‘follower’ and ‘following’ is ok – and a medium in which you are not constantly spammed with low-quality content in the form of links and commercial content. Even though the above mentioned reflection makes incredibly good sense in an evaluation of the difference between Facebook and Instagram, it is my experience that the popularity and the amount of time spent on the two platforms are also run by a given school class culture.

Often I see classrooms that surprise by the fact that only half of the students use Instagram. This is often explained by the scenario that the “socially strongest” student in the class do not use ie. Instagram, and so that particular platform does not widely grab a hold on that classroom. In those classrooms, Facebook is often by far the most used medium. So, a great number of factors are in play when analysing the individual classroom’s use of social media. It is not always sufficient to read summarised research such as for instance Medieudviklingen 2014 if you want to understand the individual child that you work with.

instagram-snapchat-apunta-que-instagram-anadi-L-YNaKki

Snapchat and Instagram have grown rapidly since 2014. Since 2013 they have grown respectively by 77 % and 55 % according to Medieudviklingen 2014.
“Snapchat basically only exists among Danish youth below 30 years of age, but within that group it is also big. Half of all 12-19-year-olds, and almost a quarter of 20-29-year-olds use Snapchat on a daily basis.”

Snapchat is what everybody talks about lately, and I can also reveal that Snapchat is what is most discussed when talking about media at my school visits. As the closed and transient medium Snapchat is, it is difficult to gather much knowledge about Snapchat unless you yourself ask young people what they think about that medium. I do not have the option to “pry” in the content that young people post (as is often probable with Instagram and Facebook), because all content is sent privately (and strongly time-limited) to a defined and specifically chosen group of people. This quality is also highlighted by Watts as the most prolific attribute in Snapchat:

“Snapchat is where we can really be ourselves while being attached to our social identity. Without the constant social pressure of a follower count or Facebook friends, I am not constantly having these random people shoved in front of me. Instead, Snapchat is a somewhat intimate network of friends who I don’t care if they see me at a party having fun.”

If you look away from this year’s many debates and media news about naked pictures, I see Snapchat as a positive medium in the sense that it supports young people to go in another direction from the very thought-out aesthetic images in which young people try to live up to an unrealistic picture-perfect image and/or body image. A lot of teenage girls often confirm my view that Snapchat creates a counterpart to Facebook and Instagram where pictures are constantly measured in likes and comments. Snapchat just IS… you do not have to be evaluated.

Both Watts’ presentation and DR’s representative analysis of young people make sense. The movement toward primarily image and video oriented media like Snapchat and Instagram gives evidence to the fact that we must continue discussing image-and video ethics in the classroom. We probably also have to realise that it becomes more and more difficult to trace the way young people get together online as Snapchat is more private than other social media. But we can nevertheless choose to see that as a positive evolvement.

A Teenager’s View on Social Media – Written by an actual teen” is very interesting reading if you are curious about an honest view from an American teeanger. He has got some incredibly valid points that every person who works with young people and social media should consider – however, without necessarily having to be be read as a prophecy about Danish young people.

This article is originally posted in Danish.

Social media teach young people to express their feelings in new ways
Eksempel på et billede fra billedværkstedet. "Ambivalens" lavet af Jannie på cyberhus.dk

An example from Cyberhus’ image workshop. “Ambivalens” by Jannie at cyberhus.dk

The hype surrounding facebook has calmed down. Instead, apps like Instagram and Snapchat have found their way to an ever increasing number of teenagers. Young people communicate to a larger extent through pictures – not just when it comes to partying, flirting, and sunny holidays. At Cyberhus we notice that the development of social media have had great influence on how young people express their feelings. Cyberhus’ image workshop provide opportunities for young people to produce and upload their own images, or comment on images that others have uploaded. This counts for more than 1500 images, and commentary threads are growing.

The increasing interest in our image workshop points to a growing tendency among young people on social media; they utilize images rather than words to share their thoughts on subjects which are difficult to talk about. To this end, social media have had a positive impact on particularly young people who find it difficult using words to articulate their emotions.

Using images as a pedagogical tool
Lise Koldsen-Zederkof, active in arts and counsellor with Cyberhus, says that the medium of images is an exceptional tool for engaging in dialogue with children and young people. She experiences that images provide completely new ways for young people to express themselves. A lot of young people find it difficult to put words to their feelings. However, a picture will encompass exactly a given emotion within a particular person. Images can hold nuances that are difficult to find and express with words. Using the medium of images open up for possibilities by which sentences are limited.

Eksempel på et billede fra billedværkstedet. Lavet af Jannie på cyberhus.dk

An example from Cyberhus’ image workshop. By Jannie at cyberhus.dk

In the beginning, the communication at Cyberhus’ image workshop primarily took place between the youngster who uploaded their picture, and Lise. However, lately an increasing number of people have started commenting on each other’s pictures, precisely as they do on social media. Young people recognise the moods that they experience in a given picture which prompts them to comment on each other’s pictures. The youngsters are very supportive and caring in their comments, and a given thread will develop into a longer dialogue in which they help and guide each other.

At Cyberhus we experience that images create a unique visual understanding of young people’s life and thoughts – both to the youngsters themselves but also to the adults who surround them. We clearly see how the conception of social media provide opportunities for young people to express themselves in their own unique way. So, it would be beneficial to consider how the medium of images can contribute to our digital pedagogical practice.

This post is originally written in Danish.

Skills Connect

Skills Connect is an EU ERASMUS project in which Centre for Digital Youth Care, alongside the English organisation The Mix (previously, YouthNet), are taking part. The key point of the project is supporting young people find their way into the labour market through their voluntary work on our online consultative platforms. The project will run from March 2015 – March 2017.

Young people develop work related skills through voluntary work

A lot of young people find it difficult to acquire and qualify their own capabilities, believing in themselves, and communicate their qualifications to employers – and thus, securing themselves a job. We know from experience that voluntary work amongst young people can help promote their self-confidence and open up opportunities for education and occupation. Each year, our online counselling Cyberhus.dk carries out more than 60,000 consultative interactions with young people. A part of those interactions are established between young people who counsel other young people.

Recognition as part of motivated learning

Skills acquired by young people from their consultative work on Cyberhus.dk can help increase their confidence in their own capabilities. Aside from specific skills, young people who are involved in voluntary work also acquire a greater sense of self-confidence and self-worth. Recognition is an important element in supporting young people’s learning and self-knowledge, and as a result helping them on their path to employment. That is the primary focus of this project.

Young people’s communication of their own capabilities

In cooperation with The Mix we will consider how we can support young people to effectively develop skills that directly may contribute to their opportunities of employment. Using so-called digital badges we can pay recognition to our young people’s progress and skills across the EU. Along with an accompanying learning programme we will support young people in developing an increased awareness of their own capabilities, which they then can present to potential employers.

E-courses on Cyberhus

Late last year (2015), representatives from the job market and a number of young people took part in a co-creational workshop which explored what skills are important for young people to acquire in order to increase their opportunities of employment. Following this workshop, it was decided to implement 2 E-courses on cyberhus.dk which are meant to help young people articulate and present their skills of 1) helping others and 2) solving problems. Read article Free E-courses for vulnerable young people for more information!

Cyberhus Courses:

Cyberhus Courses

Login page to Cyberhus Courses

The Mix and Centre for Digital Youth Care are going to qualify and badge 250 volunteers from our various online counselling platforms. At CfDP, this applies to our online counselling Cyberhus.dk.

Centre for Digital Youth Care has previously worked with The Mix, most recently on a Daphne project concerning self-harming behaviour among young people online.

This project is funded by the ERASMUS Programme
Screenagers

Three other partners who are part of the project include; Finish organisation Verke, Austrian organisation WienXtra and the Northern Irish organisation Youth Council of Northern Ireland. The project will be implemented during 2015/16.

Anni Marquard, Line Buur Skovgaard og Astrid Andreasen deltog i opstartsmødet i Belfast i marts, sammen med dygtige og dejlige kollegaer fra Østrig, Finland, Irland og Nordirland.

Anni Marquard, Line Buur Skovgaard and Astrid Andreasen participated in a startup meeting in Belfast, March, with skilled and lovely colleagues from Austria, Finland, Ireland, and Northern Ireland.

Information technology and pedagogical practices

Our application results from a major seminar hosted in Ireland during the spring of 2014 with specialists participating from Denmark, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Finland, and Austria. Experiences amongst participants were, on the one hand, that information technology is an innovative contributor to the education of young people; however, at the same time there is a reluctance to incorporating ICT’s in the field of pedagogy. This reluctance may stem from worrying about children and young people’s safety online, or the idea from pedagogical staff themselves that they are not equipped to use ICT’s in their pedagogical work. So, the project wishes to get an idea of how digital media is utilised in pedagogical practices, and results as well as challenges of this interaction will be examined.

Digital Well-being

It is important to acknowledge the potential of digital media in pedagogical practices, and in this regard there are subjects that this project wishes to further examine; Which measures can be initiated to promote young people’s digital skills, protect young people’s digital well-being, and how can we positively enforce pedagogical staff’s view on themselves in relation to incorporating ICT’s in their pedagogical work? How are we best able to take advantage of ICT’s potential in a pedagogical framework?

Is it possible to uncover useful policy guidelines around digital media and the education of young people, and what shortcomings do we detect? The project will examine such aspects and issues, gain more knowledge, and examine capacities to act on both a local, national, and an international level.

During 2015 we will collect data and facilitate workshops across all countries involved. Centre for Digital Youth Care will be responsible for conducting a national desk research and an online research survey, and also for facilitating workshops for specialists. Experiences from all countries involved will be collected and published at the beginning of 2016.

We would love to hear from you if you work with children, young people and digital media, so that your experiences can be added to our knowledge base, or you are welcome to participate in one of our workshops. Please feel free to contact Anni M. for more information.

Have a look at the report from the Screenagers seminar which took place during the spring of 2014. Centre for Digital Youth Care participated with a workshop about the inclusion of young people on Cyberhus.dk.

The Screenagers project is funded by EU’s Erasmus programme.

This article is originally posted in Danish.

ENABLE – European network against bullying

ENABLE (European Network Against Bullying in Learning and Leisure Environments) is a Daphne EU project whose purpose is to develop young people’s social and emotional skills so that they will better understand, and become more responsible in, their on- and offline social interactions. ENABLE will be implemented in half a dozen European countries, affecting 6,000 young people aged 11-14, 2,000 parents and at least 30 schools.

The project will run from october 2014 until september 2016. It is coordinated by European Schoolnet and is among others supported by Vodafone, Facebook, and Twitter.

ENABLE flyer

Centre for Digital Youth Care is responsible for the following specific tasks during the project:

  • Involvement in all the meetings of the consortium (face-to-face and online) and actively contributing to the implementation of the project
  • Contributing to the review that will be implemented on bullying and cyberbullying, and the evaluation of schools before and after
  • Help provide resources, teaching materials, and developing digital tools aimed at Danish reality and input. Also, seeking out and educating teachers and young people on a national level
  • Especially, CfDP will be a role model concerning training, particularly in regards to EU’s Help Lines (Safer Internet Centre), and will participate in rolling this out nationally and providing support to the rest of the partners of the consortium
  • Finally, Centre for Digital Youth Care is to be actively involved with the project’s communication throughout the entire project, participate in annual conferences, national workshops, the international media campaign, hackathon and other initiatives

 

If you would like to know more about the project, please contact Jonas Ravn.

Check out the presentation of the ENABLE resources and read more about the project on ENABLE’s website.

You are also welcome to take a look at our leaflet on our ENABLE project.

The ENABLE project was completed september 2016, read more.

ENABLE consortium partners

What we must learn from the Snapchat case

A couple of cases from the media covering young people’s use and abuse of naked pictures all point in the same direction: there is a need for better, and far more, training in digital education.

During the week, lots of media have reported that 200,000 pictures from Snapchat have leaked online. Snapchat is an extremely popular app which allows users to send each other pictures which then disappear after no more than 10 seconds. Common sense should however make obvious that pictures, that are sent digitally, are always subject to be copied and shared. Or does it? Young people do know that, right? Not always, unfortunately.

An app that lets young people send each other pictures that they believe disappear, combined with teenagers being the primary target group in which exploring sexuality is a major factor, is a risky combination. A study conducted by SSP Jammerbugt this summer, reports that one third of 8th graders have tried receiving a naked picture. This is a disturbingly high number as well as being far too early. When 13-year-olds share and copy naked pictures, it’s legally categorised as child pornography.

The Danish National Council for Children has recently conducted a larger study among 13-year-olds which shows that 76% of youngsters request more knowledge about legislation and privacy online. This clearly makes evident that there is a need for information among young people today. This need must then be accommodated by schools and parents. The National Council for Children has previously detected that 4 out of 10 youths do not believe their parents know enough about digital media in order to be able to help. My own experiences visiting schools confirm the tendency that a lot of parents “let go” of their children too soon. Children are not ready to be by themselves online just because they are old enough to use social media.

A positive effect from the Snapchat case would hopefully be that more people realise what pitfalls exist on their children’s favourable network. From our school visits we know that a lot of young people are already reasonable. But, we are also aware that articulating these matters in the classroom will be of great benefit because it creates consensus about what is right and wrong. It is, however, a complex issue to set up an ethical filter in the minds of young people; it can be extremely tempting to override ethics when it comes to play and sexual expressions. So we as parents, as well as teachers, have to repeat and unfold our dialogue concerning boundaries, privacy and sexuality when they take place digitally. Also when the Snapchat case has left the headlines.

This post is originally written in Danish.

Masculine youth counselling to be launched in 2015

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.

Free computer games? – Hardly.

The latest trend in gaming- and we are not talking pastels and bob hair cuts- has to be F2B – FreeToPlay. F2B are free games distributed free-of-charge via developer’s own platforms or websites; however, what is hidden behind the word “free-of-charge”?

League of Legends, Eve Online, Team Fortress 2, World of Tanks, Spelunky, Candy Crush Saga, Hay Day, Farmville, and lots of other games have made big hits during the past couple of years – AND helped developers scoop money despite the games being free to the public. Free games have become a billion dollar business. In this post we look into what you pay for when playing those ”free” games.

Free 2 Play

F2P encompasses games that provide immediate access to the entire game-play without having to pay out of your own pocket.

League of Legends
Abandon all faith ye who enters

League of Legends is one of the most popular games right now; 27 million unique individuals log in on a daily basis, and then they spend an hour or two (or 10 hours) in this gaming environment. However – and how I wish this wasn’t true – developers are not in the business in the act of pure unselfish deed. Money talks, and RIOT (the company behind League of Legends) talks in capital letters.

The game is free – completely free – you can download and play the game as quickly as your internet speed allows; and the entire game is available. No hidden fees, extension packages or other dodgy stuff. Unless one would want some bling-bling, or one is a tad impatient! Inside the game one can upgrade their characters using bonuses or looks via the game’s built-in shop.

League of Legends 3
In case you would want your dangerous man-eating crocodile look like a dangerous man-eating crocodile – with fire.

The currency of the game (influence points) is earned by doing battles – you earn a little extra if you win, else payments are pretty stable. However – and here RIOT have been quite clever – you can circumvent the slow pace in your battles for in-game “pay” by entering your credit card information and clicking “purchase”.

But hey – is it not then a paid game and no longer Free 2 Play?

Yes!! And No!!

You do not have to pay for anything in League of Legends; it just makes everything a bit more comfortable if you do. It it exactly from the little buy-ins and micro-transactions the secret lies behind the game’s financial basis – it is so easy to entice people to buy “just a little bit” since the rest of the game is free. All of the sudden, you may find that you have purchased “just a little bit” a fair number of times, and you end up paying almost full price for a free game.

 League of Legends 2

What is important to notice is the fact that a lot of the buy-in treats are purely cosmetic, and can be accessed with free (play-to-earn) currency rather quickly. The advantage of paying for content in League of Legends is by all means pretty small and mostly cosmetic. Thus, developers speculate in the fact that players possess an explosive cocktail of vanity and impatience.

Conversely, there are other games where developers do not concentrate on players’ goodwill or propensity to upgrades; other places you can pay with real money to become (significantly) better.

Pay to win

Imagine that you play lots of hours – hundreds of hours – in order to achieve the best piece of equipment in a given game – let us call the equipment the Judgement Day Hammer. You spring right into your adventure believing that right now you have reached the top of your digital world. – In a snap, a totally new player comes along and wins your mutual battle thanks to his Judgement Day Hammer-on-Steroids-and-Speed which he bluntly shows off. His steroid-version of the Hammer is bought by cold cash and so, gives the opponent an unreasonable great advantage; it is not fair nor fun – but it is effective.

By this business model – Pay to Win – gaming developers create sort of a distortion of the balance within the game in which everybody can pay their way to get better; or at least, better than the ones who do not pay. This creates an unspoken demand that although the game is free, if you want to keep it fun and you want a fair chance at winning, you need to make cold cash purchases.

When Battlefield 4 hit the market in 2013 players noticed that the game’s best weapon available-to-everyone to a large extent was inferior to the buy-for-money weapon. The weapon that cost real money could be acquired for only 10 DKK, so fans of the game bought the weapon without giving it too much thought. Shortly thereafter, small packages containing extra equipment were launched, and true enough; in most of the packages, there would be a piece of equipment – a helmet, a bullet proof vest, a gun – that was just a tad better than their free counterpart. A lot of players complained but bought the packages anyway since they had already invested in the game itself, and perhaps one or two packages of equipment. That investment would to some degree be lost if “everybody else” had better helmets, guns and so on.

 Battlefield 4 - 2
149 DKK for Battlefield 4? That’s not too bad. 199 DKK for the deluxe package with extra equipment? Well…

Battlefield 4 - 3
AND you just have to throw in another 319 DKK to get access to the ENTIRE content of the game. Total: 469 DKK (however, you’ll also get “Bonus Battlefield Battle Packs” containing new weapons…)

This way, EA – the company behind Battlefield 4 – very quickly had players pay for not only the game itself (up to 500 DKK) but also spending several hundreds extra; a razor sharp economic business model as long as people go along for the ride and do not complain too much. It is worth noticing by the way that basically all of EA’s releases (including FIFA and so on) provide opportunities for people to buy great advantages; often for a significant amount of money. Just sayin’…

The expression “Freemium” also applies to games in which you pay extra to have the entire game (premium) available.

Pay to play – NOW

The past couple of years have witnessed a new flourishing of crummy games; casual games. Farmville, Candy Crush Saga, Smurf Town and so on. Games that excel by not actually being fun, but still are better than doing nothing… What is problematic with free games is the fact that their platform (facebook or mobile interface) often already communicate with your credit card; either via Google Pay, the Google Play shop, App-store and the like; it becomes extremely easy to buy this and that – often just a few clicks away. Developers’ “trick” then consist of letting players receive lots of content and rewards early on in the game, and then later offering content, bonuses, and rewards only to the extent that you’re tempted to spend those couple of extra bucks.

  Farmville
You don’t want to wait on the next downpour? Pay your way out!

All the small amounts naturally add up – and the need to buy only increases as the game progresses.

In Candy Crush you start out with 5 lives – you lose a life every time you do not complete a given level. This is not a problem at the beginning of the game as people race through the first 30-40 levels. After that it gets tougher. If you lose your 5 lives you will have to wait 30 minutes to receive 5 new ones. Since the levels become more and more difficult as you progress in the game, and you also become more invested in the game the more you play, the easier it is to decide to pay your way out of waiting. Simultaneously, when difficult levels are deliberately inserted into the game along with information that you can buy “boosters” (that will help you with a level) after a few attempts for a small amount, it can be tempting to buy. Again, it is a razor sharp business model as long as people fall for it.

  Candy Crush Saga - 2
Make your game-play a little easier… for 13 DKK.

Candy Crush Saga - 3
Or receive 5 more lives for just 7 DKK.

Free at a great cost

Unfortunately, free games and digital products are rarely free. Sometimes you get a light-version, other times you get ¾ of the cake, else the product is just a loan. It is of course utopia to demand amazing gaming experiences for no money but especially regarding mobile phones and micro-transactions it may be a short route from a pop-up buy-now button to a reasonably sized bill. It is important to beware and know what you really pay for, and decide whether you are willing to do it again, and again, and again, and…

In some cases – League of Legends – you pay a one-time fee for some unique content (how the man-eating crocodile should look like). In the case of Candy Crush Saga you strictly pay for not having to wait for the next game. If you choose to pay for 5 lives in Candy Crush Saga one time, it is likely that you will do it again. As a starting point, I’m an opponent of Pay to play – including the win-models; however, how you spend your money as a buyer and consumer is of course for each person to decide. Still, I want to encourage that you reconsider if you want to engage with a game that is tailor made for speculating in basic human needs, and taking advantage of impatience, curiosity, and so on. The invisible and overlooked expenses in games such as Candy Crush Saga, Hay Day, Clash of Clans and so on have been made to drag the most possible amount of money from as many people as possible; consider one extra time if it really is worth your money to stack hay or play Four in a Row with yourself. In many cases you may end up paying full price for a free product.

(In a later post we will analyse and discuss which mechanisms are in play when you need just one more round in Candy Crush Saga. Stay tuned!)

By former employee Christian Mogensen

This article is originally posted in Danish.

Digital media in day care centres

Centre for Digital Youth Care is interested in how day care centres apply digital media in their everyday practice. This is a field that continues to grow, and which give rise to a lot of exciting initiatives and projects amongst our counties in Denmark.

We are concerned with two two issues; On the one hand, there is the child’s use of digital media which include play, relations and development, and this encompasses how youth care workers reflect on and think about the use and implementation of the media involved. On the other hand, we focus on how digital media is implemented in a way that is optimal for an already established pedagogical practice. In this regard, we are interested in how digital pedagogical strategies can support pedagogical practices best possible.

In June, we systematically took on the task to learn more about the digital pedagogical practices in Danish youth care centres. We conducted a smaller field study in which we observed and interviewed pedagogical staff about their experiences with local, digital initiatives. We also visited institutions in various counties including kindergartens and nursery centres. This blog entry gives the reader an idea of which areas we find particularly interesting right now.

Remote controlled learning

“Day care centres experience constant change, and in order to keep up with those changes, the day care centres have to rethink their concept of pedagogical practices,” says one of the staff members in a kindergarten in the city of Galten. At this day care centre, they highlight remote controlled learning as a tool for providing more time and opportunities to optimise resources and priorities in their work. The day care centre does not shy away from talking about efficiency improvement as they believe that digital media indeed has the possibility to replace practical and none-pedagogical tasks and will create more time for their main priority; the children.

Remote controlled learning enables children to learn even though pedagogical staff may not be consistently around to help them. Staff may initiate play time, for instance the game of “stop the music” type of dance at vidensbrønden (the well of wisdom) which acts as an interactive floor for play, learning, and movement. Here, the children can turn off/on music from other rooms through an app on their iPhone. As a result, the children’s play time is not interrupted when pedagogical staff takes on other duties. The desired effect of using digital media’s potential and opportunities the best way possible helps create more time for caregiving and actual pedagogical work.

Digital media mediates new relationships

Some day care centres prioritise that children teach each other about apps and communicate to each other how their apps work. We have observed how children can help each other initiate play but also how children may help pedagogical staff understanding play and games. This takes place within the day care centres as well as amongst relationships with other day care centres or the closest school. Within those relationships, children learn from each other how to use an app.

So, digital media can be used as a tool to close the gap between children varying in age, and also between children and adults. Some pedagogical staff have expressed to us that digital media helps develop children’s ability to cooperate, ie. sharing an iPad, and that it creates interrelated relationships. Others have told us that after introducing digital media in day care centres, children have started to increasingly play together across existing groups. Thus, new and different relationships were built, that may not have risen through other games. Here, digital media contribute to bridging the gap between children and adults and creating new relationships.

A changing pedagogical field

When talking about digital media in day care centres it is important to realize which changes digital media possibly entails along with what adjustments it requires from an already established pedagogical practice. Rooms for unfolding digital media need to be created, and it is important to keep an open mind in relation to which benefits and knowledge it entails for children as well as pedagogical staff.

At the same time it is important to clarify what you cannot achieve merely by implementing digital media, and when this implementation results in inadvertent consequences. It is important to think about pedagogical intentions and ideologies versus reality and circumstance. Digital media must be discussed, reflected upon and be subject to debate within each day care centre. This makes the difference when talking about well-implemented digital media.

By former employee Marianne Jessen

This post is originally written in Danish.

Project report 2012-2014

Young people’s media use must be supported by guidance. The Media Council for Children and Young people, Save the Children, and Centre for Digital Youth Care present a range of activities in their project report for 2012-2014 which center around children and young people’s digital culture and well-being.

safterinternetcenterMore than entertainment
Children and young people’s use of media is about more than entertainment. They partake in networks on digital platforms that have sprung up in our daily media. Here they play, chat, share experiences, and live through well-known themes of childhood and young adulthood such as identity, friendships, conflicts with friends, dreams for the future, and bullying. Today’s youth are participants in our media culture rather than observers, and they make their debut as early as three-year-olds. This creates new challenges for professionals, teachers, parents, and the children and young people themselves.

Guidance, counselling and information
The Media Council for Children and Young people, Save the Children, and Centre for Digital Youth Care, alongside Safer Internet Centre Denmark, aim to support children and young people’s digital skills and well-being. This is facilitated through guidance, counselling and information for children, young people, parents, teachers, and professionals in the form of online and printed material, campaigns, and events. Learn more about a number of CfDP’s activities for 2012-2014.

The report contains an English summary on page 22. Also, here is a direct link to the summary on a seperate page.

EU and Insafe Logo
Centre for Digital Youth Care’s digital counseling in Cyberhus deals with internet-related issues, as a part of the EU Insafe program, and has served as the Danish helpline in close collaboration with Save the Children, Denmark and the Council for Children and Young People since 2009.

Tools for a better Internet

Translated to English. The original post was written by Kristian Lund, Project developer at Center for Digital Youth Care: http://cfdp.dk/redskaber-til-at-skabe-et-bedre-internet/  

It’s Safer Internet Day, (February 11, 2014) and Center for Digital Youth Care would like to use this opportunity to tell you about some of the tools we have developed or contributed to develop. We have used teaching resources, videos, teacher’s guides and other pieces of inspiration to describe the safest and best use of Internet. The discussion with children and young people about their use of the web is what we see as the most important thing, and the tools we will go through are based on the idea that a better and safer Internet is not created by hardware and codes, but education among users.


The Digital Mirror

One of the things we contributed to develop is “The Digital Mirror” www.detdigitalespejl.dk a project for schools about social media. For example there are three scenarios on Internet ethics for middle school and up. There is a presentation and a teacher’s guide for discussing the following subjects in class:

  • The digital community: What it means to be social online?
  • The digital footprints: What does it mean when one leaves traces on the web?
  • The digital identity: You draw a picture of yourself when you type


Mobile phones against Bullying

The idea of this project is to give students responsibility for discussing the issue of digital bullying in class and at school. Students themselves develop, film and edit campaign films and share them at school. This way, they are involved as senders and bring awareness to a hard topic in an innovative manner, which is directly relevant for the issue. With “Lommefilm”, our partner in the project, there is still wide opportunity to upload the films on their website (www.lommefilm.dk ) and for the project we have written a teacher’s guide that goes through the process step by step.

 
Online4ever

Online4ever is the result of a forum theater project we ran with the children’s theater Filuren. The result is 9 short films showing a situation and a problem that can be used to initiate a discussion in class. You can watch the nine films here: (http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLD19B86A37FB98DEE ) and read the Danish teacher’s guide here. (http://cyberhus.dk/sites/default/files/Laerervejledning.pdf )


Digital Dialogue

The Digital Dialog booklet is the result of last year’s Safer Internet Day when we invited teachers from all over the country to contribute with the knowledge of digital dilemmas they faced in their line of work. It is based on these digital dilemmas that the Digital Dialogue booklet is put together in the shape of a roadmap that can guide schools to find their own answers and make their own rules and guidelines. Therefore, it includes inspiration for parent meetings, how to listen to students and staff and a lot of questions that schools need to consider.
Learn more and download the material here. (www.digitaldialog.dk )

Digital Well-being
Last but not least, we have published the book “Digital Trivsel” (Digital Well-Being) which is specifically addressed to those who work with vulnerable children and youth. The book deals with the pitfalls that the more vulnerable children and youth can easily fall into. At the same time, it gives a broad introduction to how the Internet can be used for better or worse by the young people who is facing hard times and who need help to draw the lines.

Download the first chapter for free right here (http://cfdp.dk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Digital-trivsel-Uddrag-kapitel-1.pdf ), and learn more or order the book on www.digitaltrivsel.dk

 

Delete Cyberbullying – Peer Mentors

The following blog post is written by our correspondent and intern, Helena Sofía í Byrgi as a short draft of what she observed while participating at the conference.

Madrid 3

DeleteCyberbullying is a EU project, working to get digital bullying acknowledged as a real threat, which does harm. The project focuses on school and family, and works to create a common ground for how to prevent digital bullying. The project works with participants from Spain, Britain, Bulgaria, Belgium and Greece.

Center for Digital Youth Care has been following the initiative, and attended the conference DeleteCyberbullying, held in Madrid in 2013. Unfortunately, as we’re experiencing at a number of international conferences, there was again too much focus on how to monitor children and young people, rather than how to talk ethics and morals with them. Though there was one presentation, which we would like to highlight: Beat Bullying, which is working inclusively with young people.

Beat Bullying

At the conference, Beat Bullying presented their ideas on how to work with digital bullying. Beat bullying is a project that trains young people aged 11-25 to be peer mentors for other young people. By taking the responsibility of being a peer mentor, the young people get training, guidance and support in terms of helping others of the same age. After training the young people operate as councilors for other children who have been or are at risk of being bullied, both on and offline. Beat bullying works directly at various schools in the UK.

Beat Bullying has successful experience in actively involving children and young people in the battle as peer mentors. We welcome this type of mindset in Center for Digital Youth Care, and it is similar to the projects, activities and attitudes that we work with. Our own practical experience shows that young people are increasingly seeking support and advice from each other.

Peer Mentors, the way to go

At the conference, there were four young people from peer mentoring program who presented the major problems they had experienced with online bullying. They felt that although the studies of youth counseling from the EU show that only every forth child reports that they are exposed to cyber bullying, the problem is much bigger. The young people also experienced that many are afraid of reporting it, or don’t know where to turn when having problems online. Further more they had also experienced that the “tag” function on Facebook makes it easier to bully with pictures online. It is the young people’s hope that each country will demand its government to be more active in the battle against bullying.

For more information and video of the entire conference, follow this link: deletecyberbullying.eu

 

 

Freedom with responsibility rather than censorship

Our junior reporter Michael Kaas Christensen has broadcasted videos and text from the public hearing on web censorship in Europahuset, Copenhagen, which took place on November 14. Politicians, stakeholders and press met up to join the debate along with Facebook and Google, while Apple didn’t attend.

As you can see in the broadcast there’s hardly any agreement on what constitutes censorship. Is censorship allowed only when it’s legislated by the state? Or is a social platform authorized to perform censorship when controlling its members’ behavior? What if users report each other? The concept of censorship hardly fits into a democratic principle, because certain people, opinions and genres are excluded in advance. It’s just like when Google decides which websites to show along with their place on the search list or Apple decides which programs you are allowed to install on your phone, or when Facebook removes pictures of skinny dippers after one single complain due to their policy, while the retouched pictures of bikini models stay online.
Lisbeth Knudsen, the chief editor of the Danish newspaper Berlingske has no doubt: “Facebook has the authority to withdraw people’s right to participate in a democratic debate. Our network service has to practice its own censorship! How does that sound to you?”

The debate in Denmark is no longer just a product of our laws, common norms and individual statements; it’s evenly generated by the interests of the international companies on a legal, promotional and economic level. Perhaps it’s easier to spot the problem when censorship is practiced by the state rather than by our social norms – such as when the government of Pakistan commands the telecommunication operators to delete text messages that contain dirty words. However in Denmark Peter Øvig Knudsen is restrained from demonstrating an alternative to the retouched model pictures just as efficiently as those who try to show female bodies in a regular way. The front page of the book about the free spirit of the Hippie era is banned on Facebook and Apple doesn’t want it in its e-book store either. On the other hand, isn’t it control or even censorship when the state makes the rules for private-owned platforms?

An old solution to a new problem?

Actually we’ve already found at least one possible solution to the problem in Denmark as well as abroad. When monopolies like our postal service and the first telecommunication operator just took off there was a common understanding of them not being responsible of what is sent through their channel and not censoring content, sender or receiver. Although these monopolies no longer exist, the rules still apply – in the US it’s called to have a ‘common carrier status’ and major parts of our society play by those rules: such as web providers, cargo and public transportation, postal service etc. Even though this solution is threatened each time we demand that communication providers deny access to certain websites, or when some countries allow the providers to turn down the connection speed whenever you use programs that compete with them, such as Skype.

However, Facebook, Apple, Google and many other platforms (such as Paypal) have reached another agreement from the beginning; they are not responsible for the content sent by their users (at least not if cooperating with the authorities after a report has been made), but at the same time they are allowed to censor content, to ban users from their platforms and generally to do what they please. They have a lot of freedom without any responsibility.

What can we do?

Perhaps the problem lies with politicians who believe they have no right to apply sanctions. Talking of applying censorship it would be even more legally complicated to prohibit Facebook if they broke our rules – not to mention how hard it would be to actually do it. Nevertheless the ones who are left behind are the professionals and the parents of the children and teenagers, who communicate to a greater extent on the web – and hence become more and more censored and controlled according to what they may write or watch (not to mention how monitored they are).

The Pakistani children and youth have been definitely robbed of the possibility to make certain mistakes in text messages, and thereby also a chance to learn something from those mistakes. At Center for Digital Youth Care we love the idea of children and youth starting using the web and mobile phones at an early age when the advice, corrections and support of parents and teachers still make a great impact. It’s not about preventing every mistake from happening, but about being ready to interfere when a child or a teenager has sent or received a questionable message, image or link. Unfortunately, censorship deprives children, youth and adults of the responsibility for their statements, by removing them before there is any consequence.

As we learn from Michael’s coverage young people want a place they can address personally whenever there is a problem – not just a ’report’ button. Just as Michael correctly states that we shall be nice to each other online – but that should be learned in freedom, not forced by a technical regulation. The lowest common denominator shouldn’t determine what’s a mistake at all; condom is a prohibited word in Pakistan, a picture of skinny dippers is banned from Apple and Facebook’s platforms. What shall the Danish children and young people be allowed to say to each other?
It doesn’t have to be this way; there is no reason for the others to decide what you shall share on the web or which programs you are allowed to use. But as long as we are using the solutions provided by the software giants we have to teach ourselves and especially children and youth to understand the censorship being applied. Who decides what you see on Google? Which of your friends show up in your news feed on Facebook? What can you do with your smartphone via Apple and Google App stores?

Who gave you the right to read this article?

 

Watching your language – online

The increasing amount of online traffic forces the platforms to apply censorship. It’s a complicated matter, which ignites a debate in the society.

By Michael Kaas Christensen, Junior Reporter at Center of Digital Youth Care
Kristian Lund from Center of Digital Youth Care has also commented on the censorship debate.

Alongside with the development of the Internet, both possibilities and problems have emerged. As Web 2.0 and the social media came to this world, the use of the Internet has grown further. Many social platforms, such as Facebook and Google provide the unseen possibilities to communicate with the rest of the world and that is something the users “like”. The social media has become an efficient communication tool and everything from election campaigns to personal projects is advertised there. In addition, the question is what is actually allowed to show at these platforms and that’s where the users and the platforms don’t always completely agree. On November 14 Facebook and Google met at Europahuset, the hotel and conference center in the heart of Copenhagen, to debate the subject of the Internet censorship. They were accompanied by plenty of politicians, media professionals and subject experts and that turned out to be truly interesting.

It’s hard to legislate on what can be set online. The platforms have built their own empires and therefore some believe they have the right to determine the guidelines. The Danish newspaper Berlingske and the writer Peter Oevig are among those, who have been banned from Facebook. “They’ve got monopoly on communication and can control what’s allowed to be said– says Lisbeth Knudsen, the chief editor at Berlingske.  
She made an important point. There is freedom of speech in Denmark, but that very freedom ends all of a sudden if one gets banned from platforms like Facebook. Facebook has the power, which is hard to defy when you’re a user. “It’s truly hard to make the rules of communication for people across cultures.” – says Thomas Myrup, Facebook’s Nordic policy manager. He does not find their present practice of censorship wrong, but he emphasizes that it could certainly get better. As this statement was announced, people across the hall were nodding their heads, because indeed it can get much better.

Huge amount of data is hard to control

An enormous amount of videos is being uploaded on YouTube around the clock from all over the world, and on Facebook there are made at least just as many status updates each minute.
They are victims of their own success. It’s hard to check everything with such a huge amount of data and mistakes can happen. I don’t think the problem is the result of the wrong rules, but rather the wrong interpretation. Things that are normal in one country can be a disgrace in another and that’s something that also was discussed on November 14. As a user, it’s hard to reach the implementing platform if one has already been banned from it. It makes it hard to express opinion on the web. Who knows where to draw the line and how do I find out? That question will remain for most users, because nobody wishes to be banned from the Internet. I don’t know the answer to that question yet, but I guess I will one day. It is hard to figure out where they draw the line, and what makes it even more confusing is that different social platforms have different thresholds.

According to Christel Sandemose, a member of the European Parliament, it will be hard to control the giants of the web. “We can’t control them, but we can control the way we use it.” Morten Loekkegaard (MEP) agrees with her, he also thinks we should look over Google’s and Facebook’s shoulder. He personally suggested appointing a jury or an ombudsman, who can inspect the cases of the unhappy web users. It’s a fantastic idea, but they risk getting too many requests. Instead of, for example using Facebook’s ‘Report’ button, it will be more straightforward to contact an ombudsman or similar. The human aspect of being able to see a face will encourage many users to choose the direct contact.

Things can get much better

According to Google and Facebook there’s enough going on to keep the two companies busy, perhaps even more than enough. They’ve gained monopoly on the modern online communication, perhaps without even knowing it and that comes with obligations. The tools they generate are developed just as much by the users as by the companies themselves. Wherever they see possibilities, so do the users and unless you know the users really well, it’s hard to predict what they will say or do. I don’t have a solution to that, but listening closely to the users is a good place to start. Even though it requires resources, they should analyze particular cases, along with showing that they do pay attention whenever a user is criticizing content. The ‘Report’ button, which is available on Facebook and some other platforms, is not considered as an actual way of communication by the users. The more cases Facebook analyze, the smarter they become and that should gradually lead to better censorship. The ‘Report’ button itself is not censorship, but the cases that get flagged should serve as an inspiration to it.

However, that requires us to report more. After all, Facebook and Google have made the button available and if we experience something offensive, we should definitely report it. ‘Great power comes with great responsibility’ and I believe the big web companies are about to realize that. Let’s hope they won’t remove my article because frankly speaking that would be a bit of a drag.


I hate when there are only 10 likes beneath the photo

A year ago Queen Margaret surprised us all by talking about young people and Facebook in her New Year’s speech. One should have bet on that subject. It would probably have given serious money, said commentators. The queen was worried. Especially about the young people’s group dynamics and their identity work on the social networks:
“I think the young people are especially vulnerable. The modern ways of communication with Internet and Facebook have tremendous potential, but there are also dangers associated with it. The very young ones can be so occupied with it that they, so to say, live in cyberspace, that reality, on the other hand, is lived in a kind of showcase, where it’s more about to keep up an appearance than to be yourself. But young people have to be themselves, not only as a group but as the individuals, they are.”

I look back at a year with a whole lot of presentations for kids, young people and profe