Early Intervention Research Project – Sexting and Smart Technology

In 2015, OFCOM found that 23% of 8-11 year old and 72% of 12-15-year-olds have social media profiles. The number of 8-11-year-olds with social media profiles has doubled. Children who have smartphones and use social media platforms are getting younger and younger; they are the online generation. Along with the many benefits of the internet and social media, there are also many risks such as bullying, social network misuse (e.g. sexting), coercion and peer pressure. Alarmingly, NSPCC found that 1 in 4 children have experienced something upsetting online, and Childline has conducted 12,000 counselling sessions with young people regarding online issues.

What We Did

Reports show a growing number of teens were being negatively impacted by smart technology and digital culture across the region. 2engage were approached by the charity Catch22 and Cheshire Police’s Safer Schools Partnership to prevent young people across the region falling victim to the dangers of going online.

Aimed at young people aged 10-12, we carried out 12 consultation sessions across Cheshire with professionals, teachers and young people to gauge the extent of the issues being faced by young people. The young people, who were part of Catch22’s service, had experienced a number of dangers that stemmed from being online and the normalised misuse of smart technology. The project highlighted how young people’s digital lives led to them being targeted for grooming and child sexual exploitation (CSE). Other issues were also disclosed which included bullying and the use of apps that had age restrictions.

Around 30 young people helped inform and develop an interactive session called the ‘The Snap Trap’ which included the participant’s own stories and advice for staying safe online. 2engage used this research to produce an informed and relevant session that will enable young people to contemplate the actions and decisions they make online every day of their lives.

Key Themes Covered:
  • – Sexting/ inappropriate texts
  • – Coercion and peer pressure
  • – Gaming & cyberbullying
  • – Social network misuse
  • – SMART rules
Aims of the Project:
  • – Collate real and local stories to develop an engaging and appropriate session for KS2.
  • – Promote e-safety and awareness of CSE.
  • – Enable young people to be safer online and consider their online behaviours.
  • – Work alongside partner organisations, schools and young people to inform the work.
  • – Disseminate findings to partners, and plan to roll-out the project across Cheshire.

2engage collated over 14 hours of audio and interview transcripts and showcased ‘The Snap Trap’ at the Police HQ in Cheshire for 80 professionals and teachers. It toured around four areas across the county offering sessions to 80 primary schools. If you would like to know more about this project or want to know more about ‘The Snap Trap’, please click the link or contact us here.