Responding to Digital Ghost Stories – A Guide for Professionals
Over the last few years the Professionals Online Safety Helpline has seen its fair share of ‘digital ghost stories’. There are lessons to be learnt each time and with hindsight, we can see how these things have gained traction and how we may have even helped increase it’s reach, unintentionally.
At the time, when it’s new news there is pressure on professionals; do I respond? Do I share? I need to warn people! With each ‘challenge’ or ‘story’ this pressure can feel different. Earlier in the year when a disturbing rumour circulated, the threat felt very real and unlike previous ‘challenges’ had more of a ‘real world’ impact.
It’s easy to get caught up in the commotion because at the core, we care. However, as we have seen, sometimes getting caught up in it, and sharing with good intention can sometimes back fire, leading more people to search out and look for the content or story.
The helpline wants to help try and tackle this, giving you something to focus on initially if/when the next ‘story’ comes along!
Not only does it give you steps on how to respond if a challenge does arise, but can also fill the space online and override the next ‘story’. If we share this video instead of specific warnings, this will benefit us as professionals, as well as the young people we work to protect, while also taking fuel from the fire that makes these stories go viral.
We obviously would love a world where these kind of stories and challenges don’t exist, but until then, failing to prepare is preparing to fail!