The Preston Social held its first event at the new location of the Forum on Winckley Street on Tuesday, with the topic focused around debating the contentious idea of responsibilities and rights surrounding young people online.

Attendees heard from Duncan Hodgson, who develops applications for young people through his work with Plings and, which he designed, developed and has maintained since its origin. The site was recently shortlisted for Best Website of the Radio Wave Culture & Lifestyle Awards.

Duncan summed up his mentality by saying “if your children saw a swimming pool, you wouldn’t build a wall around it, you’d teach them to swim”. He emphasised the importance of consulting with and educating children about the web from a young age – making them feel part of it rather than setting up filters that blocked lots of sites that could be beneficial to them (Twitter, YouTube etc).

The second speaker of the evening was Sarah Goodall, who founded the Athena Programme in 2007 and has 21 years’ experience as a volunteer, social worker, probation officer and youth offending team manager.

Sarah is an expert in safeguarding young people, and her talk encompassed various strategies and methods that she has found to be successful in her own work across charities and local authorities.

After the speaking sessions had finished the floor was open for debate, and some tweets have been collected from the evening below.

It’s crazy how the speed of the Internet makes it so much more dangerous to everyone who just gives their info out #prestonsocial – MissAJBurton

People are not anonymous online, even if you think you are you’re not! Perhaps we need better analysis when things go wrong? #prestonsocial – phpcodemonkey

#prestonsocial how do we encourage developers to think about providing safeguard for children? – goalchasers

There’s a mindset and culture (fear?) of social media in many parents. Agree? #prestonsocial – tomstables

#prestonsocial feedback. Venue:good location,odd layout,slightly pricey but v nice food & drinks. @she_sider ate this

Enjoyed the #prestonsocial event as per usual. Forum is a great venue, keep it… – chocistherapy
#prestonsocial feedback: topic/disc: Topic: thought provoking. I want to dig out my old cyberjurisprudence papers (yes, this stuff exists!) – microwavedrama


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