‘Digital Passports’ launched to help tackle online harm for children in care

20 May 2021

A ‘Digital Passport’ has today been launched to help children, young people and their carers make the most of technology and being online.

The Digital Passport has been created by the UKCIS Vulnerable Users Working Group, a group of specialists working together to reduce the online risks faced by children with vulnerabilities.

While children and young people with care experience enjoy connecting, gaming, learning and having fun online, research suggests they inhabit a more hostile environment and are more likely to encounter greater risks online.

The same research finds children and young people in care find the freedom and opportunities that connectivity brings particularly beneficial.

The Digital Passport is a communication tool for foster carers and their children, created to help them have frequent and supportive conversations, agree steps they can both take to keep children safer online and record any safeguarding or concerning incidents, as well as celebrate what they enjoy online.

What does it offer?

  • Help enable the child’s digital life in a positive and supportive way.
  • A tool for carers to clarify and support a discussion and understanding about online life.
  • Supports agreements about internet access and use of devices between carers and children.
  • Consistency for a child or young person if they move to another placement or home environment.
  • A record to improve safeguarding.
  • A tool to help make the most of what technology offers and open up opportunities for children and young people, especially those in or leaving care.

How does it work?

The Digital Passport can be used as a way of discussing views, feelings and experiences around a child’s digital life and recording agreements made, as well as checking whether they are still working for the child. It can also help to check if agreements are still working and making changes, as well as giving children in care a way of opening up a conversation about how they can be best supported.

The Digital Passport has two main sections. One brings together information for the foster carer and other professionals about the ‘digital life’ of the child. The other is for the child to express their wishes and feelings, hopes and interests.

Why do we need it?

The most effective way of keeping children safe online is for their carers to be interested in and supportive of their online lives, and for conversations to be meaningful and regular.

We also know that many foster carers are tech-hesitant and may default to removing devices and restricting digital access, when for many young people in care it is the only way they have of connecting to friends and family.

The Digital Passport serves as a resource to support foster carers in managing the crucial conversations that will help them understand, support and safeguard their child’s online life.