Exploring youth engagement in a digital age
I was following an interesting status post of a young person who had a child and his parents were unaware of his situation.
He expressed his joys of parenthood and at the same time did not want anyone to tell his mum since she would be upset at the situation.
A local youth practitioner decided to jump into the conversation and start giving his version of sound advice and telling him to 'man up', 'face responsibilities', 'not hide behind closed doors', etc.
What came as not a surprised to me was other friends on the list who also knew this practitioner well told him to stick his advice and to get off the *&%$ friends list and let him do his own thing until he is ready to take it the next level.
I decided to ping those 'friends' and asked whether if the discussion was at the Youth Club would they have expressed their opinion so strongly, they responded with a No!
Dwelling more into this it came to light that they treated their 'friends connections' as actual friends. Thus interestingly they did not a) have parents on their friends list b) have anyone remotely close to their parents on their friends list, and if you made it to the list of friends added to Facebook then you entered into the circle of trust.
This circle of trust is considered sacred.
You enter into it understanding that as a 'friend' you are loyal, sympathetic, encouraging, non-judgemental and trust worthy. You certainly are not a boss, manager, practitioner or any kind of defined authority within structured hierarchy.
Understanding this allows you to expand your connections and reach more young people.
Now hopefully by now most service providers that attempt to connect to young people online understand best practices, but my question is not about best practices for the purpose of presenting 'our service' to more young people; but about connecting with young people as a friend. Are we truly befriending young people online?
"People in social work are insincere.." [paraphrased from Carl Jung]
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