03 April 2020

Safety Tips for Working with Young People Online

Due to current circumstances, we all find ourselves working remotely and communicating a lot more online with young people has become the new norm. Youth Theatre Ireland have issued guidance on working safely online to affiliate youth theatres. Some helpful tips are summarised here for general use.

Act exactly as you would offline Youth theatres and many other groups have been showing great innovation in moving activities online but as we do this, it is important to remember that child protection policies apply equally in the online space as they do in our face-to-face activities.

Different families, different rules It is important to acknowledge that different families will have different rules and approaches to screen-time and so clarity on online activities is important.

Dress for the occasion Set expectations for dressing appropriately, participating fully and working together.

Permission for each app and site required The digital age of consent is 16 so if your child is under that age, permission is required from a parent or guardian for use of each individual app / social media site.

By Invitation Only Do not require young people to have an account to participate in video meetings, instead invite participants by email with a link.

Official accounts only Meetings should be hosted from an account held and managed by the organisation, not from a leaders personal account.

Check settings More than one staff member or volunteer should have access to the account details. Ensure that meetings are password protected and can only be joined by invitees. 

It is not advisable to record the meeting If you do record a meeting, store the recording securely on organisation equipment for a specified period of time. It is essential that you inform participants and their parents and guardians that you will be recording the meeting, and get their permission to do so, as this is classified as data processing.

Prepare participants in advance Make yourself familiar with the features of the chosen app in advance, and provide clear guidance for young people on safe use of the app prior to working online.

Set a time limit Set an end time just as you would in an offline environment. Concentration spans may be less than that in a regular session. Consider sessions of between 30 minutes and one hour.

Investigate any barriers in advance Check with participants that they are comfortable using the app and whether they are experiencing any barriers to participation such as weak broadband access, limited access to equipment or if they have a disability that impacts their ability to interact via screen such as visual impairment. Reconsider working online if it leads to the significant exclusion of members.

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