Connected realities – what do practitioners need to know about teens’ online lives?

Connected realities – what do practitioners need to know about teens’ online lives?

“What if we thought about the internet a resource to be deployed rather than as a problem to be solved?” (Jenkins et al, 2016, p.36)  What if we move our focus from a deficit orientated understanding of the online lives of teens to an asset-orientated approach which builds on young people’s strengths? And what does this mean for practitioners working with teens who have mental health difficulties? Perhaps there are better ways of approaching teens’ online lives that enable us to be more effective practitioners. I am endlessly intrigued by teens’ use of the internet, social media and digital technologies. It is a fascination brought about in equal parts from observing my three teenagers and from the many and various projects we do with teens at mHabitat. I am particularly curious about how health and care practitioners help teens navigate the digital sphere (or not) in their everyday work. Practitioners are worried about the impact of social media on teens, concerned about risk, and at the same time drawn to how apps could help deliver care. Meanwhile teens are frustrated about adults’ lack of understanding about their online lives and are looking for guidance and support which is often lacking. This set of disconnected realities between teens and practitioners is the subject of a book I am writing with Dr James Woollard. It is a guide for practitioners to help them explore, understand and appreciate teens’ online lives; and to enable them to incorporate this understanding into their work with adolescents affected by mental health difficulties. The book will bring together the evidence along with stories derived from my...
Towards a manifesto for digital health #socialjustice

Towards a manifesto for digital health #socialjustice

What would a manifesto for digital technologies grounded in social justice look like? In other words, the development of digital technologies in health and care that enable an equitable distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within society and which balance the interests of individuals, communities and institutions. After all the NHS is a collective endeavour – each of us contributing so that we all have access to health and care free at the point of demand. A few weeks ago I co-facilitated the first of mHabitat’s three Digital Humanities in Health and Care seminars along with Dr Helen Thornham from the School of Media and Communications at the University of Leeds. Along with a group of practitioners, technologists and academics, we considered the role of ethics and justice in respect of the inexorable rise of digital technologies in health and care. Mark Brown, one of our speakers, talked about the contested notion of social good in sphere of digital health: “Delivering public services is a political act. The shape of public services and how they feel are defined by political and historical realities. The decision of who pays tax, what taxes they pay, upon whom those taxes are spent and who it is that does the work is political. The ‘social good’ is not an uncontested idea. The culture of Silicon Valley is increasing looking, in the American phraseology, like a dumpster fire. Libertarian ideas run riot, with the very ideas that our public services in the UK are founded upon are seen as a deadly infringement of the rights of the individual to choice. Low tax, low regulation...