‘Who’ to ask and ‘When’ to ask
Which young people should be asked by practitioners about their online activities, how frequently, and in what circumstances?
Good Practice Indicators
1. All young people attending a mental health consultation should be asked about their online activities
2. Practitioners should ask young people about online activities at their first meeting and then at regular intervals
3. There are red flags that indicate circumstances (times/ young people) where it might be particularly necessary/ helpful to initiate a conversation (see below)
Notable or changing patterns of device use - Over-use, increase of notifications, device reliance, protectiveness of device, continually distracted by device (observed in session or concern reported by parent/carer)
Secrecy over device and online activities - observed in session/ reported by parent/carer
Negative self-image - Concern about appearance and body image, unfavourable comparison with others
Signs of being isolated or withdrawn - Withdrawing from friends/ family/ usual activities, spending more time alone
Self-harm behaviours or suicidal thoughts - Especially changing methods of harm
Experience of bullying
Sleep problems - Changing pattern of sleep, excessive tiredness
Sudden change in presentation, disturbance of mood or behaviour - Including drug and alcohol use
Signs of child sexual exploitation - Including sexualised behaviours and past history of exploitation
"Online activity can often provide a window into what is going on for the young person, therefore avoiding it is neglecting information"