Case 3: Observe and learn

At Tonuso, in Belgium, a staff member monitors the different movies that young people post on the Ning website that is set up as a closed environment within one of the settings. She notices that one of the young people has managed to include a movie using the embedded code that is provided by Youtube. It was a movie of an American catch (wrestling) competition where two teams beat the hell out of each other. As an adult, you know that these competitions are well rehearsed before the game and that it really is a big, though violent show. The young person is only nine years old.

This was a dilemma. On the one hand, it was great that the young person managed to use his recently-absorbed ICT skills and managed to use code embedding into the Ning platform. On the other hand, his fascination for violence had already caused trouble in the school and was once again in the middle of his attention. The violence in his family is not open for discussion. Through the post on the Ning site, the individual counsellor now found a way to open the topic and talk to the kid and his parents. The door opener is the posting on the Ning platform, not the aggression in the family.

This example shows that the use of social software can assist counsellors in their work. Young people express themselves on social platforms as they are. Their interests are reflected in the stories, movies and activities they put online. Counsellors sometimes find it difficult to enter into a direct confrontation with negative aspects they observe in the young person's behaviour. Addressing the topic by interacting with the online image these youngsters bring of themselves can open the door.