Sara Rowbotham, the former health worker who exposed the Rochdale grooming scandal, will address a conference on digital practice and young people.
The event has been organised by charity The Children’s Society, which supports vulnerable and at-risk young people, and social enterprise Reason Digital; and will take place on 28 January in Manchester. The conference aims primarily to inspire and educate the charity’s practitioners to engage further with digital practice and young people.
Reason Digital, which endeavours to drive social change using digital skills, will provide training and insight into how young people inhabit digital spaces; the evolution of young people’s engagement with social media and how best to interact with young people using digital tools. Reason intends to bring in peers and partners to help The Children’s Society’s workers learn how to engage effectively with digital practice and young people, using videos, apps, games and disruptive technologies.
Sara Rowbotham, the conference’s lead speaker on digital practice and young people, said: “Technology is a double-edged sword. It now affects every facet of a young person’s life, having grown up in a digital age. As adults we need to better understand how to communicate daily with young users, on a range of platforms – from Snapchat to Instagram… Because of my expertise in child protection I’m working with Reason Digital to create a chatbot with extra safety measures, so young people have a safe place to get advice and communicate with trained advisors. I firmly believe survivors’ voices should always be the loudest and I want them to be integral to developing a safe solution, to create technology that’s appropriate for child protection.”
Other speakers at the conference on digital practice and young people will include Nick Phillips of Barclays UK, who developed a Childline app for the NSPCC; Michelle Wignall, whose son Jack McLinden became the first “virtual” mascot for Everton Football Club; and Dom Raban, who created a healthcare app for children.