As parents and professionals, we need to be able to understand the things our young people find and engage with: they can come to us and we can help. This toolkit aims to summarise the range of tools available and highlight examples. We invite readers to discuss these tools. Before presenting universal and digital tools available in ‘Digital Landscape’ toolkit section, here are some things to think about before using digital tools.
We use this term to describe a piece of software that has a potential to support mental health. It might be a generic tool or designed for this purpose. The impact may be direct or indirect, positive or negative.
Software is a programme run by a computer (a desktop, laptop, a mobile, a car engine, or a wearable device like a fitness tracker). A software is also called an application – or ‘App’.
A website is a space on the Internet, usually found by a web address into a browser (an application like Internet Explorer, Safari, Chrome). You can view a website on different devices: computer, tablet, television, mobile phone, watch face. Many websites adapt their appearance to the type of device you’re using.
A search engine is a tool for searching on the Internet for particular terms. Google is the best known search engine. It tailors the websites you see in searches according to what you type and the websites you tend to view.
Smartphones and tablets are devices that connect to the Internet and run software. For many young people, the telephone function is secondary. Mobile devices can be on set contract, with an allocation of free calls, text messages and data. They can also be on a pay-as-you-go where you can buy bundles of data, texts and calls. 4G connections are faster than much broadband services, and often, cheaper.
There are different operating systems for devices. The operation software is what controls the device. For example, Windows on a PC, iOS on Apple, Android used by Google.
A wide range of businesses and individual develop Apps. Apps are either free or for sale through special shops like the App store for iOS and Google Play Store for Android. Apps sold through the App store have to meet tight criteria before they’re accepted.
Developers find the Android system more accessible so Apps may be less polished than iOS Apps. Users find that fewer Apps are available for Windows phones. There is a wide range of apps for health and mental health. NICE have reviewed some eMental Health services for clinical use.
Instant messaging (IM) is a popular way to exchange text or media – for free or at a low cost. It uses mobile data or WiFi. Messaging services such as WhatsApp are popular. Snapchat is another one where messages ‘disappear’ from the recipient’s device seconds after viewing. Privacy is still not guaranteed. The message can be ‘screenshot’ and shared – or hacked. Although young people can use IM for risky behaviours, these Apps are popular and well used.
Wearables are clothing and accessories that incorporate computer and electronic technologies, such as fitness or sleep trackers and pedometers.