How digital disruption can deliver better futures

By Amanda Kelly and Tim Aldridge and Carol Homden | 21 July 2021

Technology is the domain of young people. It is the ‘go-to’ means of communicating, organising, shopping, entertainment and remote meet-ups. It has become their primary source of help and advice, and where they look for role models who can have both negative and positive influences. Research published in January this year revealed YouTube to be the leading social media platform for teenagers, where ‘how to’ videos are their preferred source of advice.

Through the ever-increasing sophistication of data analytics, Amazon, Facebook, Instagram and Google combined know more about the way vulnerable young people are living and the risks they are taking than any youth offending service or social care records can possibly reveal. In short, digital disruption has already happened for vulnerable young people. Those that seek to exploit and abuse them have successfully pivoted their business models, distribution channels and marketing methods in response. The numbers of young people involved in Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE) is estimated by the Children’s Commissioner to be 30,000 to 50,000, but the number could be much higher.

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