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Exploring How Technology Can Support Young People in Care

Project start date: March 2015

We (University of Kent) were awarded £592k to explore how technology can support traumatised young people in care to recognise, communicate and cope with strong emotions, and manage their behaviour more effectively. The project identified how technological tools might support traumatised young people and their carers.

Project Summary

 

It is known that many children coming into care will have been severely abused or chronically neglected. One of the consequences of such maltreatment is that they significantly misinterpret their own and others’ feelings. Modern technology has the potential to support young people with these issues. Not only have there been changes in the ways that young people communicate and learn in recent years, with mobile technology playing a significant role in their lives, but there has also been a considerable expansion in technology (perhaps designed for another purpose) which has the potential to help this group of young people and their carers.

This project, led by the University of Kent, brought together a consortium of technologists, designers and academics to understand how to leverage advances in technology for the benefit of some of the most vulnerable young people in society. Four waves of co-design workshops were conducted with young people, their carers and social workers, to scope out a new digital service for vulnerable young people, with the aim to discover whether there could be co-design of behavioural and support technologies.

As a result of the workshops two concepts were predominantly favoured by young people and their carers: ‘Real World’ – a virtual flat that teaches young people the skills they need to move into independence, and an online platform – a place for information to be collated and shared between young people, carers and social workers. These concepts were most supported as they responded to issues and information gaps, and young people could imagine themselves using them. There was some concern over the potential for technology to supplant face-to-face interaction and the potential negative, isolating effect that technology could potentially have on young people.

To push the co-design aspect further, it was thought that young people and carers could be involved in, or have greater visibility of, some of the design process, including attending workshops with the development team, or hearing feedback about how their ideas have been incorporated into product concepts.
Due to a lack of a long term funding model and time constraints the innovation will not be continuing in the future.

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Project contact details

Please contact the university for further detail

Project evaluators

Kantar Public

Project partners