Digital theme for South Ayrshire youth conference

A series of workshops on internet safety, employability and better use of social media were enjoyed by conference delegates.
A series of workshops on internet safety, employability and better use of social media were enjoyed by conference delegates.

South Ayrshire Council has hosted the sixth annual Youth Conference and this year’s theme was digital media.

Opening the event, the Council’s Director of Educational Services Douglas Hutchison welcomed delegates and said: “Digital media offers huge benefits – making the world a smaller place through digital networking – bringing young people together with common ideas, goals, ambitions.

“It’s a fast moving picture - technology is changing rapidly – music, news, knowledge and information are all delivered differently now – CDs and DVDs almost look old fashioned today, when they were cutting edge just a few years ago – now we get our media online.

“As the gadgetry gets smaller, the challenge to stay ahead gets bigger.

“And there are other challenges – the challenge of staying safe and secure in the online world and the challenge of valuing each other as people and creating an ethical online world.

“These issues – and more – will be discussed and explored today and I hope our young people will make their mark on the conference and in the digital world in which we all now live.”

“Special guest was anti-stalking campaigner Ann Moulds from Action Scotland Against Stalking who said: “The annual youth conference is incredibly important and this year, I was honoured to help and encourage young people in finding new ways to keep themselves safe, whilst ensuring the dangers of the internet and mobile technology were properly highlighted.

“The stalking DVD schools training resource workshop was a huge success with young people actively engaging in discussions and offering information that can be used towards addressing this type of crime and I was delighted by the feedback this received.

“We must give our young people full credit for what they have to offer and what they can bring to these discussions.

“I am fully committed to any event or activity that promotes personal safety, freedom from harm or stalking, and wellbeing, especially in today’s digital world and I trust this message will also be heard by Internet Service Providers.”

The conference was co-ordinated by the multi-agency South Ayrshire Youth Strategy Implementation Group and was an opportunity for youth organisations, youth workers and young people engaged in youth work to highlight the achievements and impact of youth work helping young people with life skills and employability.

During the conference young people took part in a number of themed workshops which were: SELFIE CENTRAL: Positive and negative consequences of uploading ‘selfies’; CATFISH: Internet Safety Awareness and links to the TV show Catfish; JOB OR NO JOB: Employability and links to Social Media; FRIEND REQUEST: DVD relating to cyber bullying and stalking; GET CREATIVE: Design Competition creating material promoting internet safety.

Councillor Margaret Toner, Portfolio Holder for Lifelong Learning gave the vote of thanks saying: “Social media is changing the way we communicate and how others see us.

“Every time a photo is posted or a status updated, we contribute to our own digital footprint and one inappropriate comment, or image, can have disastrous repercussions, which is why online safety and responsibility is so important and I’m delighted this conference helped address this concern.

“However, social media is also a power for good, giving a voice to those who might be overlooked, forgotten or unheard and it’s a message young people understand very well.

“It was a privilege to hear the views and ideas of the delegates and these will help us to change and improve how we plan, manage and deliver our services to young people in the future.”

Kirsty McCahill, Vice Chair of South Ayrshire Youth Forum brought the event to a close and added: “It was once again fantastic to see so many young people throughout South Ayrshire coming together at this annual event and I’d like to thank them for their involvement during the day and in the workshops.

“On behalf of the South Ayrshire Youth Forum, I’d also like to say thank you to all the organisers and contributors who have again, made this annual event a huge success for young people in South Ayrshire.”