About the training course: Fostering in a digital age
We developed Enable after studying the online lives of young people over several years. Our research found that some children and teens were more at risk than others online. Many had offline vulnerabilities or difficulties, such as emotional or mental health concerns, so a bad online experience was acutely felt and potentially harmful. Yet the digital world meant so much to them. It could be a refuge from their everyday struggles and offered support and connection, plus exciting opportunities.
We explored how frontline children’s services interact with children and young people in cases with a digital component. They told us what they found challenging and what was needed. What we learned is brought to Enable-pathway with advice from 40 young people in foster care and more than 70 foster carers.
About hidden or secret apps
How children in care benefit from the digital world (in their own words)
How I handled it
Real stories from Foster Carers, created to give you a different perspective and insight into the challenges you may be facing, or could face in the future.
Below is a selection of what foster carers say.
Self-blame after abuse
"I told her it wasn't her fault. She was a child. It was the adult that was doing whatever was done. It was the adult's fault. It wasn't her fault and that she had her childhood taken away from her at an early age. And that is why it made her do the wrong decisions when it comes to boys, because she thinks she has to. She thought she had to act a certain way to get a boyfriend because she thought that's what boys wanted."
Neglect and abuse
"Unfortunately, when children that come into care have had long term neglect and have had to fend for themselves and have never been… their actions have never been questioned. It's very difficult for the carer to explain and try and help them understand that the way that they use their phones and the information that they're giving and the conversations that they're having and the pictures they are taking is not appropriate. I think looked after children think they're the only ones going through it. That is why I put this child I have now into a group where they can interact with other children with a similar experience."
Keeping an eye on the child’s internet use
"I review his browsing history and monitor game usage. I do some spot checks of devices and discreet listening."
Behaviour changes & self-harm
"We were worried that something was causing a 14 year old girl’s behaviour to change so much. She was nervous, edgy and angry, and would not say why. We tried to talk to her about this but got nowhere.
We looked through her search history, she always dropped sites down on the tool bar of her laptop if we came into the room. We found she was looking at pages where people talked about self-harm and how to hide it. We got her some help as soon as we could and she agreed to accept it."
"I’d speak to my link worker for advice or ask my adult children about it."
Filters and controls
"I have their passwords and have set parental filters, we only allow age appropriate content."
Not telling anyone about abuse
"A lot of our looked after children would go through this on their own and they wouldn't tell anybody. That was what happened to us with the girls that we were looking after. They didn't tell anybody because it was just the norm. It was what was going on. And it's about breaking that. It's about breaking that misconception that this is acceptable, and this is OK. We tried to model a healthy relationship and talk about it."
"Being open from the outset on what is acceptable, building trust, talking about it regularly and setting clear boundaries and expectations."
Monitoring the child’s internet use
"I check their social media and ask questions, keep communication open."
Communicating with the child
"I speak to them consistently and raise awareness as well as make sure I’m aware of all online platforms they may be using."
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A consortium to support fostering in a digital age
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