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Using digital tools to support vulnerable children

Using digital tools to support vulnerable children
According to the ‘Vulnerable children in a digital world’ report published by Internet Matters in 2019, there are over 2 million vulnerable children living in England and Wales. 

‘Vulnerable’ is a broad term that includes a diverse range of people, including BAME children, young LGBT+ people, or people with special educational needs (SEND). Whatever their particular situation, we know that there is a strong correlation between offline vulnerability and online vulnerability.  

The Internet is an invaluable tool for helping vulnerable children feel less alone and realise that there are like-minded people in the world, but they can also be at risk of encountering more difficulties online. BAME and LGBT+ people can face discrimination and hate speech. Children with SEND may be more susceptible to online manipulation as they are less aware of the consequences their digital actions can have.  

Clearly, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution; every vulnerable child’s situation is unique, and vulnerabilities can intersect and impact each other. What we at Natterhub can offer is a safe space to help vulnerable children feel more comfortable in their own skin, and as digital citizens. 

Our interactive ’Think It’ lessons teach children that they have Permission to Be You! and encourage Positive Self-Talk, while the platform encourages pupils to express their personalities through the creation of their avatars and share their passions on the news feed. 

However, we know that not everyone that we come into contact with online will behave appropriately, which is why we to instil resilience in vulnerable children and teach all pupils to feel empathy with the people around them. Children are taught to recognise when something doesn’t feel right and to tell a trusted adult, just as if they were being bullied in real life, as well as report any inappropriate content they come across.  Our ‘Mind It’ and ‘Chat It’ lessons also encourage pupils to think about their online reputation, and consider the consequences of their actions before they post something that might hurt another person. After all, each avatar we encounter online has a real person behind it.

Ultimately, however, the best way to support vulnerable children online is to be aware of the issues they face in real life. We’ve argued before on this blog that our ‘real’ and ‘digital’ lives are one and the same, and this applies to safeguarding as well as citizenship!

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Partnered with Microsoft Education Partnered with NSPCC Partnered with British Educational Suppliers Association Partnered with UKCIS Partnered with Twinkl Partnered with Laptops For Kids Partnered with Internet Watch Foundation Partnered with Childnet Partnered with CEOP