Paper

Using Games Based Learning to Support Young People with Learning Disabilities Stay Safe Online

1st October 2020

Using Games Based Learning to Support Young People with Learning Disabilities Stay Safe Online

The rise of social media is impacting on the lives of people with learning disabilities; it is important that this impact be a positive and fulfilling experience. Young people find themselves in a range of dangerous situations online without the support or understanding to keep themselves safe. Practitioners and parents increasingly face problems of this nature themselves and require support to allow them to make informed choices that help keep young people healthy and safe online. While there are examples of resources that promote online safety for people with learning disabilities, young people, carers and practitioners in one area of Scotland have indicated the necessity to have a centralised and interactive resource to encourage people to develop online safety skills and understand how to stay healthy and safe online. These are primarily physical resources such as worksheets, slides and booklets with limited interactive content.

In this paper we discuss an alternative approach that uses an immersive games-based learning tool to train and influence the behaviour of young people with learning disabilities. The online safety tool has potential to help community, acute health/social workers or guardians educate and monitor the online vulnerability and safety of a young person with a learning disability. Young people can simulate real life scenarios and learn through problem solving or reflective practice in a format that they can interact with and relate to on a daily basis. Social care professionals or trainers can update elements of the scenarios and content and can remotely facilitate, track progress and monitor behaviour and performance. Requirements and initial concepts were gathered through Experience Labs using a Participatory Design approach and this paper presents the proof of concept game that has been developed and the results from a preliminary investigation of the use of the games with young people with learning disabilities. The paper concludes with a discussion on how the game may impact policy and practice in this area and how the game can be further developed and evaluated.