Charities failing disadvantaged youth on digital tech, says NPC report

A report based on 12 months of research says the sector should develop apps to help young people find the support they need

Are disadvantaged youth being failed?
Are disadvantaged youth being failed?

Charities are failing to use digital technology effectively to help disadvantaged young people, according to a report by the think tank NPC.

My Best Life: Priorities for Digital Technology in the Youth Sector says that many charities using digital technology do not consider the circumstances many disadvantaged people face.

The 31-page report is based on 12 months of research with 19 young people experiencing multiple disadvantages in the London borough of Camden.

The young people were asked how digital technology could be used to tackle the challenges and opportunities they faced in building better lives for themselves.

Common problems were low levels of digital literacy outside social media, insufficient resources to pay for devices except mobile phones and the cost of data on phones.

The proposals in the report, which was published last week, include developing an app similar to Google Maps that would allow disadvantaged young people to find and review the local support they require, such as mental health services.

The report also suggests using chat bots on phones to enable young people to ask questions about simple day-to-day support on issues such as benefits and housing.

Tris Lumley, director of innovation and development at NPC and co-author of the report, said: "If we are to truly help disadvantaged young people, it’s time to understand them and the complexity and messiness of their lives.

"Too many well-meaning interventions fail, especially those rooted in tech, because assumptions about the end user turn out to be false. The work we have done suggests a strategy for ensuring that doesn’t happen."

An NPC spokesman said it was hoped the report would be the starting point for collaboration within the sector on ways to address the digital problems young people face.

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