Digital resilience: how health and care practitioners can help teens with mental health difficulties

Digital resilience: how health and care practitioners can help teens with mental health difficulties

I’ve recently written a blog post and report for NHS Digital’s Widening Digital Participation Programme based on a review of the evidence along with interviews and focus groups with young people. The report focuses on digital resilience of teens with mental health difficulties. You can find the blog post here and the full report...
Young people, social media and the ethics gap

Young people, social media and the ethics gap

“Adults ruined Facebook. Don’t do the same with Instagram. And don’t you DARE go anywhere near Snapchat!” This was the anguished cry of my teenager during a treasured moment of increasingly elusive mother/daughter conversation. Her plea reflects a wider shift in online teenager behaviour away from more public social networks towards more private ones such as Snapchat. As Facebook becomes more domesticated amongst adults, it appears that teenagers are heading to their own more private and separate spaces. The very idea that I might set up a Snapchat account was enough to fill my teenager with abject horror. So back to our conversation. I was secretly keen to check out ideas considered in Disconnected – Youth, New Media and the Ethics Gap (Carrie James, 2014) which I have just finished reading. The author considers how young people address ethical issues and moral dilemmas relating to privacy, property and participation online. Based on numerous interviews with young people aged 10 to 25 she found positive examples of highly ethical behaviour that evinced a ‘play nice’ mindset and which respected the privacy of others. However, she also found thoughtless, dismissive and occasionally callous behaviours towards others. Not surprisingly for young people who are still developing their sense of identity, attitudes were often highly individualistic and tended to focus predominantly on consequences of antisocial behaviour for the self rather than for others: Self-centred stances are not surprising given that egocentrism often characterises the adolescent and emerging adult phases of development. However, the dominance of egocentric thinking is problematic online, given the deeply social nature of the Internet and the qualities and opportunities...
What could Minecraft & the NHS possibly have in common?

What could Minecraft & the NHS possibly have in common?

A quick Internet search for *Minecraft* and *health* results in a plethora of sites which tell you how to restore the health of your player – health being the meter of endurance in Minecraft and represented by the number of hearts you have  on your screen. What pops up next are the desperate pleas of parents wanting to know how to keep their children’s obsession with Minecraft *healthy*. What doesn’t readily appear is anything about Minecraft’s application in a health context. I’ve been fascinated by Minecraft since, like millions of others, my youngest child became obsessed by this open ended creative and imaginative game. His focused hours of application, concentrated self-directed learning and mind-blowing creations must be the stuff of dreams for many a primary school teacher wanting to motivate their pupils. And not surprisingly there is a growing industry developing around Minecraft as an educational tool. I went along to the Playful Leeds Minecraft Unplugged workshop, along with my resident 10 year old Minecraft enthusiast, in order to think about how the game might have an application in an NHS context. The session was led by Adam Clarke, who amongst other things, has created Tate Worlds and Alan Lewis who has won awards for the virtual worlds he has built in Minecraft. Although I couldn’t find any reliable figures on the web, I was surprised to learn from Adam that there are fairly equal numbers of males and females playing Minecraft.  I also found out that there is a Minecraft server for children with autism and their families called AutCraft but I’m not aware of anything else out...