A trend report on media and entertainment consumption by children and young people showed that over 80% of those sampled have access to mobile devices. And 60% reported accessing gaming apps for mobiles once a week or more. With children and young people becoming increasingly tech-savvy, often surpassing our own use, the question of how we can engage with them through this medium is an important one.
Responding to this growing need, Cafcass’ National Improvement Service (NIS), IT and Communications, worked together with Child and Family Training to develop the children’s apps ‘This Much!’ and ‘Backdrop’. Launched last year, the apps are for use in our direct work with children and young people, and aim to help them express their wishes and feelings.
The apps are adjusted to suit Cafcass’ practice needs, can be used in a range of circumstances and are suitable to support work with young people who find communicating challenging. They are particularly useful as an alternative where the young person has found it difficult to respond to other methods of direct work. The apps can also be used with young people who have mental health problems or learning disabilities.
‘Backdrop’ features scenes such as ‘my house’ or ‘my islands’ and allows a child or young person to write, draw, type or place figures on these customisable backdrops. In doing so, it prompts discussion about their life – feelings of safety, security, relationships or hopes, for example.
‘This Much!’ is ideal for bringing clarity to a specific issue in direct work with a child or young person, by helping them to quantify their experiences, feelings, or relationships. It uses an analogue scale – that is fully customisable to suit the individual circumstances – so that the child can rate their perception of a single experience or relationship.
The apps are complementary and, between them, allow our practitioners to explore almost any aspect of the child’s experience or difficulty with the adults and world around them. Paired with their skills and expertise they can help support practitioners to focus on areas relevant to the court application and the evidence to be considered.
Alex Kemp, Head of Practice, NIS, says, “These are great tools for supporting children to voice their experiences and helping us to engage with them through a medium they are increasingly familiar with. Not only are they user friendly for young people, the apps have the potential to strengthen our analysis and understanding of the scenarios they experience.”