Most reviews suggest that in order to mitigate the risks which young people encounter, we need to change our approach to cyber safety. We need to focus on the way young people actually understand risk and Internet use, as opposed to the way adults often perceive that they do. For example, even violent games can have creative, social and emotional benefits.
As emphasised in research, policy focuses primarily on the negatives on online technologies and social media. This frames digital citizenships as online risk-management. But ‘expanding young people’s digital citizenship opens up the potential to maximise the wide range of substantive benefits associated with online communicative practices’
Vulnerability is “a circumstance young people may experience or are exposed to, as opposed to a concept that they in themselves are. By suggesting they are vulnerable in and of themselves, young people’s individual identities and uniqueness are diminished, and they are homogenised into a definition which does not recognise their individuality as anything other than vulnerable.”
This framework recognises that young people facing vulnerability are at risk from poor mental health, and they might use technology to emphasise their identity, reduce isolation and structural barriers, and access peer support and treatment.
The evidence base on how young people who experience vulnerability use the Internet is still sparse. The need for further research recognises the complexity in young people’s lives, including the way in which they use technology.