When the world went online. New ACEs potential from the pandemic and digitally disadvantaged Children & Young People

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: School of Computer Science


Vulnerability in Children & Young People; The effects of the pandemic online & offline.
Online Life
Following the first UK lockdown in March 2020, many childrem young people and their adults were forced online for multiple activities. Whilst CYP and adults both tended to have an online presence in the modern worldprior to this, this presence for many was suddenly increased enormasly. This is became unavoidable with everyday functions taking place online rather than in the real world. School work went online, Homework continued to be set online. Social interaction was mostly online. Research for school topics are online and communication is online in the form of messaging such as instagram, whatsapp. Snapchat etc. Games moved from the playground and street to online, in a world that is inundated by news of the dangers the world poses, often inaccurately.

This was possible, for the first time in history, for many. But it left some without access to social and educational access for weeks and months at a time, due to lack of devices, lack of connectivity and lack of a space in which to connect with the world outside the isolated home.

My research explored the effects of these moves on Children and Young People and it relation to CYP's vulnrability, particularly looking at the potential for digital or pandemice induced Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).

People can be more of less vulnerable depending on the numbers of ACEs (adverse childhood experiences) they have encountered. The current literature mainly revolves around statistics relating to crime and prison, injury and death, education and other "real world" factors.

With increasing use of online interaction in young people's lives, it is proposed that the factors that increase vulnerability are potentially magnified online. This is suggested by two main causal factors. The first is that from an Evolutionary Psychology prospective we, as a species, still react to others as if we were physically present with them in the Environment of Evolutionary Adaptiveness (EEA). This means we can miss online signs of danger seen in physical encounters which ensured our ancestors survival.

Those with vulnerabilities and ACEs were more likely to be subjected to more ACEs and had a less comfortable existance physically and were shown to be more restricted digitally.

Mental Health Access
This research interviewed qualified counsellors, therapists and mental health experts who have been directly "meeting" with children and young people (CYP) before and during the Covid 19 pandemic. For the purpose of this research "meeting" involves face to face, telephone, chat and video support for mental health purposes.

Qualitatively topical narrative approaches were used to explore the ways this online interaction was experienced by the practitioners and their perceptions of how their clients adjusted and responded to the differences in such interactions.

Social & Extracurricula Contact
I gathered information from 2000 CYP in Primary and Secondary Schools regarding their access to the digital world for schoolwork. This included their device access, internet access and help from others to access work.

A second questionaire gathered information about their social interactions with extended family, friends, clubs, sports groups and religious groups.

This enabled me to look at the differences between CYP's experiences over the pandemic period.

In a further study I interviewed adults who had extended social and/or educational contact and who have been directly "meeting" with children and young people (CYP) before and during the Covid 19 pandemic. For the purpose of this research "meeting" involves face to face, telephone, chat and video support for social and/or educational purposes.

During this time many adults had to rapidly change their meeting methodology with CYP and adapt to very new circumstances with little or no training or equipment.

Planned Impact

We intend the Horizon CDT to be the place where partners come to find their future employees and to engage with the opportunities and challenges of digital identity and personal data. The key beneficiaries of our research will be:

- Commercial private sector companies that will engage with our CDT students during their research and/or employ them after graduation. Our partners include companies developing digital identity technologies as well as user companies across a range of sectors (consumer goods, entertainment, transportation, energy and others).

- Public sector and third sector organisations that are concerned with the use of digital identities to support civil society including broadcasters, healthcare providers and campaign groups.

- The public whose personal data forms the focus of their research and who will ultimately use and come to depend upon digital identities.

- Research communities spanning computer science, engineering, psychology, sociology, business and humanities.

These will benefit in various ways.

- Commercial, public and third sector companies will benefit from being able to recruit from a pool of talented PhD graduates who bring an in-depth understanding of digital identity and a proven ability to work in interdisciplinary teams. They will also benefit from being able to participate in co-creation of PhD research to ensure focus on relevant challenges and be able to exploit results of this PhD research.

- The public will benefit through a greater understanding of the opportunities and challenges of digital identity.

- Research communities will benefit by opening up promising new interdisciplinary fields.

Our Impact activities will be driven by Professor Derek McAuley, the Director of Horizon, who has a track record of establishing industry labs, spinning our companies and who is currently acting CIO of the TSB funded Connected Digital Economy Hub. Key activities will be:

- All Horizon PhDs will be carried out in collaboration with an external partner who will be involved in drawing up the initial topic, recruiting students, shaping the PhD proposal, supervision, and hosting at least one internship

- We will continue to organise knowledge exchange events within Horizon that are open to our network of over 100 external partners, including our annual Horizon Research Conference.

- We will encourage the release of applications, open source software, and open datasets wherever collaboration agreements allow.

- We will actively encourage our students to spin-out new ventures, including providing seedcorn funding through Horizon.

- We will engage our students with our two partner catapults, the Connected Digital Economy Catapult and the Satellite Applications Catapult.

- We will actively encourage industry visits through guest lectures on our "Broadening Horizons" core taught programme.

- We will also encourage companies to define, steer and sponsor the first year interdisciplinary team projects.

- Our students will complete a module on Public and External Engagement and are encouraged to engage in public events and exhibitions.

- Horizon's journalist-in-residence will help expose students research to the wider world through regular blogposts, while the University's marketing and communications team will help them develop press releases.

- We will provide training in research publication as part of the Professional Skills module and mentor publications through the Practice Led Project and the annual writing retreat (where students present and critique draft papers).

These impact activities will be supported by a professional online presence with posters, demos and podcasts made available through our website and associated YouTube channel and twitter feed, and with individual PhD profiles being posted on our own site and on external networking portals such as LinkedIn and ResearchGate.
Description Children and Young People's experience of educational and social interaction via the online world during the pandemic was dependant on the methods available to them to enable interaction.

1. Digital Divide There are several differences in digital inclusion relating to SDQ categories in CYP, including differences in devices used, access to the internet via WiFi or data connectivity, space to work and help to access online work.

2. CYP loss of connectivity There was a large loss of connection for CYP of social, family and network connections and a potential loss of PACEs that can mitigate vulnerability.
3. Differential Grandparenting The Evolutionary Psychology hypothesis of differential grandparenting investment was supported during a period of reduced physical contact. It was continued via remote contact.
4. Conservation of Resources Complex patterns of interaction with different contact types by SDQ category, suggested that COR interactions may drive decision making in extreme events.
5. Preparation and support Mental Health Professionals, were reasonably prepared and supported to continue online work.
6. Advantages It was demonstrated that the perceptions of online working success were linked to adaptability, prior wide-ranging training, training aimed at going online and support from trainers, professional bodies and peers, affected perceptions of outcomes and working confidence
7. Lack of support & preparation It was demonstrated that many people in education, and social contacts did not feel supported by their hierarchy and that there was a great deal of confusion and stress for those interacting with groups of CYP,
8. Age related digital inclusion It highlighted the difficulties that some older family members may face in interactions online or at a distance with CYP supporting the findings of other studies and the digital disconnect for some older people.
9. Vulnerability risks The research demonstrated some clear differences in interactions between CYP related to their SDQ categories
Exploitation Route To increase digital inclusion of Children & Young people in educational, home and social settings. To build resilience to vulnerabilities that this may cause. To facilitate programs of supply and education to enhance positive outcomes.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Healthcare

URL https://highlights.cdt.horizon.ac.uk/students/psxmw3
Description In helping Mental health practitioners to working online with Children & Young People. In helping address the digital divide and its implications for Children & Young People.
First Year Of Impact 2021
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Healthcare
Impact Types Societal

Description "Safeguarding Vulnerable children online" Presentation of the Study plan to Horizon industry partners, academics, and researchers. Jubilee Campus University of Nottingham 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact "Safeguarding Vulnerable children online" Presentation of the Study plan to Horizon industry partners, academics, and researchers. Jubilee Campus University of Nottingham This sparked questions & discussions
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
Description 3-minute one slide presentation, for 3-minute Thesis competition, University of Nottingham online. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Competition which resulted in feedback for future presentations
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
Description ACTO Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact "What can we learn, from the pandemic, about closing the digital divide for Children and Young People needing mental health interventions." Conference for Online Mental Health Practitioner
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://mediaspace.nottingham.ac.uk/media/ACTO%20Conference%20June%202021/1_yomknw1f
Description LTS Conference April 2021 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Less can be more- Telling your story through Zoom; observations on power dynamics in story-telling with Children and Young people during therapeutic interventions through the pandemic. The use of narrative and changes when using online communication during the pandemic.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://mediaspace.nottingham.ac.uk/media/less%20can%20be%20more%20voice%20version/1_y4sgl3ng
Description Presentation Industry Day for Horizon industry partners, academics, and researchers. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Industry partners, researchers & pther students attended asked questions and contacts afterwards
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020