DK at Media Snackers has been on a bit of a campaign to get Youth Workers in the statutory sector to blog. It would seem that there are very few who do (he’s found one!), which perhaps is a consequence of Local Authorities attitudes to their staff having any kind of online profile (it’s BAD).
The same is true of the church. Rumour has it that the powers that be added Facebook to the list of blocked websites in the Church of Scotland’s offices the day before Gordon Brown (yes the Prime Minister) gave social networking a big thumbs up at the General Assembly. Facebook was unblocked shortly after.
This seems broadly representative of local churches and even denomination’s approach to the Internet. ‘I don’t understand it so it must be bad.’ I’ve had youth workers tell me they are not allowed to have BEBO or Facebook sites, they can’t have forums on their websites and all kinds of stuff about not being online. The reason most given is ‘Child Protection’. What a load of nonsense.
The online world is just as safe (or unsafe) as real life. What we should be doing is having sensible conversations about APPROPRATE online interaction with young people. There are lost of ways to have open and transparent contact online with young people.
It’s probably a good idea for you not to IM your youth group. But there’s no reason you can’t have a Twitter account telling them what’s coming up this week, or reminding them what to bring.
Having a group blog also let’s young people be creative in collecting content, writing and presenting what they have been up to. A blog would give your group a higher profile in the community. It would allow parents and supporters to see the value of your group. You might even get new members or more funding.
So, here’s a plea. Just because you don’t ‘get it’ don’t think it’s bad. There are loads of tools and opportunities around to make your youth work better. Don’t miss out because you don’t know where to start.
If you blog about your youth work, let me know.
If you would like to know more about getting online then in the next session I’ll be doing some training to get you started. Keep an eye out on the blog and the dates pages or get in touch from the contact page.