If, like me, you’re always looking for newer and better ways to help young people, this piece is for you…

Teenagers looking at mobile phones...

Photo courtesy ©iStockphoto/kali9

The young people we work with really are the “digital generation.” They’ve almost grown up online!
So how can we use this to help them?

Apps to help the helpers…

In recent weeks I’ve come across 3 smartphone/tablet/desktop applications that can assist in working with troubled young people.
Whether directly or indirectly, mobile technology has a lot to offer us in our work.
This is the first of at least 3 posts (may be more…!) about these apps. I’ll cover one app in each post.

Techy teens…

Teenagers love their gadgets, particularly their phones. So it makes sense for us to harness the power of apps (applications) to help us in our work.
Apps can help us to help them. Here’s one that I’ve come across recently:

App No.1: MIND OF MY OWN (or “MOMO”)

Finalist for two awards, so far…


Photo courtesy of ©MOMO

Photo courtesy of ©MOMO

MOMO is an app for helping young people to have their say.
It’s particularly good for pre-meeting consultations, for example kids in the LAC system. Or any other kind of meeting…
It uses on-screen questions and scenarios to help kids clarify and deal with their issues, make complaints and get their point across.
This is a great tool for advocates, kinship and foster carers, as well as social workers and others engaged with young people in the care system.
It’s an app that young people can use independently or with help.
It’s basic purpose is to help kids do the thinking around their issues and help them to communicate these effectively.

The stated aim of MOMO is to:

“…help young people in care express their views more clearly, get more involved in meetings and make better decisions with their social care team.” 

For more details and to download the FREE app, click here.
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I’m a strong believer in empowering young people, wherever possible, to take control of their lives. This is what advocacy is all about.
In a previous post, I wrote about advocacy that it:

“…so often gets lost amidst the press of other things. We spend a lot of time challenging and steering behaviour, making logistical arrangements, attending meetings, completing paperwork, etc.  Our role as those who speak up for young people can get drowned in the flood.”

Our role is to help with this. To advocate. Yes, we must teach, encourage, correct and encourage again. And again. Be we must also advocate.
Given the increasing prevalence of mobile and other technologies, and the keenness of young people to use them, I reckon apps like MOMO present a great opportunity…

Working with...

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/scanrail

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/scanrail

Of course, not all young people have their own phone or access to a tablet or computer. No problem.
MOMO is a great way of sitting down with a young person to work together. You can easily use your own, or an organisational phone or tablet to to get alongside kids and work through the app.
My bet is that the level of engagement will only be enhanced using this approach. Give it a shot – there’s nothing to lose!

Quick videos…

Here’s the MOMO introductory video – this can be used to show children what it is and how it works:

Introducing MOMO from Mind Of My Own on Vimeo.

Check out this short video about how MOMO can be used to help children participate in their care…

Final thought…

If young people are into it, we need to be informed about it.
Mobile technology is a no-brainer on this front. Kids love their phones. So anything we can do to harness this in their favour is a good thing.
These posts will just look at the apps I’ve come across, but I’m sure there are more. Please let me know of any you know about – you can comment below or just email me.
Look out for future posts on other apps…

Your thoughts?

  • Are you aware of any other apps that can help engage and involve troubled young people? 

Please let me know – join the conversation by leaving a comment below or by clicking here.

Other info…

Guide: Social Workers’ guide to using MOMO…
Article: The I.T. Crowd – How Technology is Helping Children in Care…

Related previous posts…

Pass it on…

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© Jonny Matthew 2014

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