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Digital discussions . . . YMCA South Canterbury communications manager Michele Keggenhoff (left) and youth development facilitator Cath Slee are encouraging South Canterbury young folk to stay safe and look out for their friends over the summer. PHOTO: GRETA YEOMAN

South Canterbury young people are encouraged to look out for their mates both online and in person over the summer break, the YMCA says.

YMCA South Canterbury youth development facilitator Cath Slee said cyber safety was covered as part of the YMCA’s Resiliency Toolkit that staff took into schools.

As well as young people understanding about having respect for others online, people also needed to be aware of their online settings because posts or photos could often travel far across the internet, she said.

YMCA communications manager Michele Keggenhoff said young people also needed to be aware of the relationship with their phone, and summer could be a good time for a “mini digital detox” from devices.

She said if young people were feeling stressed or overwhelmed about things happening online, putting their devices down was a good option.

“You’re in control of it – you can step away.”

A recently published report by the Ministry for Women and Netsafe, “Insights into Digital Harm”, detailed that while both girls and boys interviewed felt they were in control of their online lives, most seemed to know someone who had suffered severely from digital harm (such as personal images being shared wider than their intended audience, or online abuse).

There was a difference in how boys and girls used online media: girls were more likely to use social media like Instagram to form or ‘curate’ their identities, while boys did not see their online lives as important in forming their identities.

report also discussed the connections between digital harm, mental health and suicide, topics to be further investigated in the second phase of research.

As well as looking out for bullying or harassment of friends online, people needed to keep an eye out for them in real life, Ms Keggenhoff said.

Whether that was speaking up about the tone of a conversation before it turned into a mob mentality or walking home with friends late at night, people could be a positive influence on their mates, she said.

“Be active in looking after your mates.”