Some instant interaction is great, at least you know there is someone at the other end wanting to participate.
Many Scout Groups already use some form of instant messaging so that parents, leaders and young people can keep in touch.
There are several mainstream platforms you can use –
- Facebook Messenger
You need parental permission to use this form of messaging and make sure that the platform you use is age appropriate and within the age restrictions put in place by the platform. If young people are below the minimum age of the platform, you need to communicate via the parents. A minimum of two leaders must monitor the group to ensure there’s no bullying or inappropriate behaviour.
Watch you don’t end up with sub chats running and them dropping out of the main chat. This may be a challenge on familiar social platforms.
(Watch limits on numbers in video chats.)
You must make sure that no young people message or communicate with any adult directly on a one-to-one basis. If this does happen, please do not respond to the one-to-one message, rather contact the parents and ask them to speak to their young person to explain why it’s not appropriate. If it happens again, report this to safeguarding so we can speak to parents to make sure they’re monitoring their child’s usage online.
Remember that for some platforms (such as WhatsApp), everyone in the group will be able to see all the members, including personal details like mobile phone numbers. If you’re not comfortable with this, consider using another platform instead.
If you are communicating with young people directly (where they are over the minimum age of the platform) you should not use a platform that uses mobile phone numbers, such as WhatsApp or SMS messaging. Leaders should not have access to young persons’ mobile numbers.