With technologies and digital activity developing at an ever-increasing pace, many foster carers struggle to balance children and young people’s right to a normal life while ensuring their safety. The Fostering Network has resources, publications, training, and helplines to help foster carers become more confident in navigating the digital world, while at the same time minimising the risks for those in their care.
Fostering in a digital world: the challenges
Technology is part of children and young people’s lives and it is here to stay.
Children are going online at an earlier age and spending increasing amounts of time indulged in the vast digital treasure cove. Challenges arise as children learn digital skills before they learn important life skills.
For all its benefits, the internet can also present risks, particularly to looked after children and young people, some of whom may be particularly vulnerable.
Without the relevant safeguards in place, it can also leave children and young people open to other risks such as being exposed to violent, racist or pornographic material.
For looked after children and young people, this can include the deliberate or unintentional harming of placements if, for example, online contact with friends or family is not properly supported or supervised.
How we can help foster carers
Fostering in a Digital World: A Common Sense Guide
The Fostering Network has produced a guide to help foster carers develop a better understanding of what it means to foster in the digital age. It covers the following areas:
- facts versus myths: putting the issues into perspective
- helping children and young people stay safe – the general principles
- what children and young people really do online
what to do if things go wrong: reporting online abuse and inappropriate material.
You can purchase our Fostering in a Digital World publication online.
Chapter 10 of our publication Safer Caring: a new approach also provides helpful tips about safer caring in a digital world.
Both publications are available to our members at a discounted price.
The Fostering Network in Wales provides in-house training courses on digital, tailored to meet your service’s needs.
For more information about Fostering in Digital World and Look Both Ways: Digital Technology Awareness, contact The Fostering Network's training team.
Our member helplines provide confidential and impartial advice for foster carers in the UK.
Our online community
Our members also have exclusive access to our online community where you can log in to share your experience and get advice from other foster carers. The community is a safe and secure area to discuss topics including being a foster carer and looking after a child, as well as advice on finances.