Identity and Belonging 2019: Growing Up in the Digital Age

The impact of digital technologies on the health and wellbeing of children and young people

The University of Kent and Kent Educational Psychology Service are hosting a one day conference on social media, how young people use them, and the effects, both positive and negative, that this has on their developing peer relations and personal identity.

Venue: Woolf College, University of Kent
Date: Thursday 4 July 2019, 9.30-16.00
Registration fee: £99 per person
Organised by: University of Kent and Kent Educational Psychology Service

While there are multiple benefits that can stem from young people’s use of social media, specific online risks have been identified including poor mental health, cyberbullying, sexting and sexual harassment, online pornography, sexual solicitation online and radicalisation.

The heaviest users of social media are also those most vulnerable to low wellbeing and symptoms of anxiety and depression, in addition to other harms such as loss of empathy. Girls are twice as likely to be high intensity users as boys. In younger children more than two hours a day of recreational screen time is associated with reduced working memory, processing speed, attention levels and executive function.

The conference programme will offer a combination of recent research into how young people use social media and the effects of social media, and a series of workshops focusing on specific areas of concern to schools, colleges, youth and community groups and services. The voice of young people will take the form of a short film prepared by students from Canterbury College.

Register via the online store

Confirmed speakers include:  Duncan Stephenson, Royal Society for Public Health; Sally Williamson, Salus Group; Dr Simon Hammond, University of East Anglia; Dr Laura Gray, South Tyneside Council; Professor Jane Reeves, Centre for Child Protection University of Kent; Dr Afroditi Pina, School of Psychology University of Kent.

Speaker biographies

Jill Allen

Jill is an online safety and anti-bullying consultant, qualified teacher and former school pastoral leader. She is passionate about ensuring that children, parents and the professionals they meet, in their day to day lives, have the skills and knowledge to thrive in the digital world. She has a wide-ranging experience of developing and delivering training and workshops on digital well-being and online safety directly to thousands of parents, children and professionals working within the education, care, voluntary and charity sectors.

She has worked as an advisor with Salus since 2013 and in education for sixteen years, collaborating on projects and research with organisations including the Anti-Bullying Alliance, Citizenship Foundation, Teach First, University of Kent, London Borough of Tower Hamlets, Kent County Council and ITV.

Jill has delivered training, advice and guidance in settings ranging from early years, mainstream, specialist and independent primary and secondary schools, through to higher education institutions and residential care providers for children and vulnerable adults.

Jill has two school age children, is a school governor and is studying for an MSc in Psychology.

Dr Lindsey Cameron (Organiser)

Dr Lindsey Cameron is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Kent, working in the field of social development. She specialises in building understanding of children’s social relationships, including bystander intervention in bullying, prejudice and stereotyping, diversity and friendship, and gender.

Lindsey has been conducting research in Kent schools since 2001. Her particular focus lies in applied research in education, specifically applying psychological principles and methods to the development of school-based interventions, and she has published widely on this subject. Her research is funded by Oxfam, the Lottery, DfID, Equality and Human Rights Commission, and Research Councils.

She collaborates with and advises charities across Europe, including: The Office of the Children’s Commissioner, anti-bullying charity Salus, One Globe KidsRights and Equality Sandwell and People United.

Lindsey is currently a ‘Researcher in Residence’ in the school linking charity The Linking Network, and is a consultant for a consortium of Kent primary schools conducting action research on gender stereotypes.

She is one of the key organisers of this event, and looks forward to welcoming you all on 4 July at the University of Kent.

Nicki Carpenter

Nicki Carpenter has worked with Kent County Council as an Educational Psychologist since 2003.

Nicki is a senior practitioner and has been involved since 2008 in developing Cognitive Behavioural Therapeutic Approaches to be used with children in schools to support attainment and achievement. The particular focus of this has been in developing a group programme for test anxiety (Beat Exam Anxiety Together).

Since 2008 Nicki has also been a Solihull Approach trainer. This model combines Attachment Psychology, Counselling Psychology and Behaviour Management into a framework for providing an understanding of a ‘good enough’ environment for optimum brain development for young children and adolescents. This has been applied via parenting programmes and whole school training and for the reduction of exclusion across Canterbury Schools.

Nicki continues to develop her interests around teachers’ knowledge and awareness of neuropsychology in the teaching of maths, and in provision for pupils with ADHD. She would like to further develop accessible interventions for pupils using computer games and devices positively, to aid learning and support the development of concentration (e.g. neurofeedback for ADHD).

Professor Karen Douglas

Karen Douglas is a Professor of Social Psychology at the University of Kent. She studies the psychology of human communication, including the antecedents and consequences of belief in conspiracy theories, and how communication technology influences social interaction.

Laura Gray

Laura is an Educational Psychologist working for South Tyneside Council. Prior to training as an Educational Psychologist Laura was a member of the Neurodevelopmental Research Team at Newcastle University where she worked on a range of projects aimed at understanding children’s, young people’s and families’ experiences of a range of developmental disorders, primarily Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and working with clinicians to promote better outcomes. Laura is well published in this field and is an Affiliate Member of the Centre for Developmental Disorders at Durham University.

During Laura’s time with the Neurodevelopmental Research Team many discussions became focused around improving the engagement of children and young people with a diagnosis of ASD, and their families, in academic research, and the possible utility of social media within this. Laura took this idea forward and through her doctoral training she realised when working with children and young people in schools that many of the issues being raised were very much related to their lives online. This is not necessarily an area that is considered within current models of consultation. Laura therefore focused her doctoral research on exploring children and young people’s use of social media in more detail.

Dr Simon Hammond

Dr Simon P Hammond is a Lecturer in the School of Education and Lifelong Learning, University of East Anglia. His research transcends health, social care and higher education sectors and he has a growing reputation for co-producing best-practice guidance in the area of digital literacies and resilience. He has produced numerous academic papers in this area, which along with his book Digital Life Story Work have been cited by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

To find out more about Simon’s work visit Alternatively, you can visit to download the first chapter of his book for free!

Emma Harrison

Emma Harrison joined the teaching profession after working as a Senior Residential Social Worker in a school for sensory impaired children. During her teaching career, she became an Inclusion Leader in a primary school in Kent. She studied for an MA in Enabling Learning. She is now a Specialist Teacher for Social, Emotional and Mental Health. She works within the Canterbury and Coastal District and provides outreach to Nursery, Primary and Secondary Schools.

Emma’s work consists of advising Senior Leaders and school staff on how best to support young people with SEMH needs, and in some cases, avoiding permanent exclusion from school. Her work is based around changing people’s perceptions of vulnerable children and young people who present with a series of challenging behaviour. Emma feels very passionately about supporting children and young people and influencing policy and practice to facilitate a positive change to make their school experience a positive one.

Emma is a Solihull trainer and a PROACT SKIPr trainer. She is inspired by working with a variety of agencies and has had an input into the Canterbury District action plan, looking at approaches and models of support for children and young people in order to reduce vulnerability and exploitation.

Dr Andrea Honess (Organiser)

Dr Andrea Honess is a practising Educational Psychologist at Kent Educational Psychology Service and Lecturer in Educational Psychology on the Doctorate in Educational Psychology at the University of East Anglia.

She is an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society and an Honorary Research Fellow in the School of Psychology at the University of Kent.

Andrea’s research interests include

  • the use of video techniques to facilitate the development of reflective professional practice and to support the development of attuned interactions between children and key adults
  • ideas of identity and belonging held by children and young people
  • approaches to supporting refugee and asylum seeking children in education.

Andrea is also one of the key organisers of this event, and looks forward to welcoming you all on 4 July at the University of Kent.

Dr Afroditi Pina

Dr Afroditi Pina is a Senior Lecturer in Forensic Psychology at the University of Kent. She conducts research in forensic and social psychology that fits within the areas of sexual violence, gender equality and victimisation. She is interested in examining the psychological explanations for people’s attitudes and behaviours that pertain to the topics outlined below:

Online and offline harassment and sexual harassment, rape, pornography
Afroditi has conducted work on sexual harassment victims, coping strategies adopted by these victims, emotional impact of harassment as well as perpetration of harassing behaviours.
She has also published work on rape myth acceptance, negative emotions (anger, fear and sadness), management of sex offenders in the community and access and exposure to pornography.
She is currently conducting research on revenge porn as well as cyber-harassment behaviours.

Sexual and self-objectification
Afroditi has published work on self-objectification and its effects on intentions to pursue cosmetic surgery as well as the effects of sexual objectification on rape victim blaming and perceived suffering of rape victims.

Professor Jane Reeves

Jane Reeves is a Professor of Child Protection and Simulation Development at the University of Kent.  She is Co-Director of the Centre for Child Protection (CCP) and Director of Studies for the distance learning MA in Advanced Child Protection. She is a qualified social worker.

Since becoming Co-Director of CCP Jane has worked with many stakeholders to co-write immersive simulations which tackle complex child protection issues including sexual abuse (‘Rosie 1’); neglect (‘Rosie 2’); radicalisation and extremism (‘Zak’; ‘Behind Closed Doors’); paedophilia (‘Elliot’); child sexual exploitation (‘Looking out for Lottie’); and ‘Rosie goes to court’.  The simulations are widely used across the UK and internationally by professionals and young people. She has led innovative projects funded by the DfE and Innovate UK and is currently working on an Erasmus project with the University of Stirling, protecting children across Europe through modernising the social work curriculum.

Duncan Stephenson

As Director of External Affairs & Marketing for the Royal Society for Public Health, Duncan has responsibility for developing the organisation’s voice on public health issues. He has been behind the high public profile RSPH now enjoys, as well as many of the organisation’s new campaigns and awareness raising activities including: #Status of Mind and Scroll Free September, which focus on the impact of social media on mental health and wellbeing; Health on the High Street – a campaign in both the UK and USA, to make High Streets more health promoting; and Taking a New Line on Drugs – calling for drug policy reform. Duncan has also developed and driven forward a number of new partnerships for RSPH including projects looking at obesity, vaccinations and gambling.

Duncan has over 15 years’ experience in campaigns, media relations and public affairs working mainly on health and wellbeing issues. Prior to joining RSPH, Duncan had responsibility for parliamentary and stakeholder relations at the Care Quality Commission. As Head of External Affairs at the YMCA, he set up the All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image and was instrumental in the BeReal Campaign. He has previously worked for industry and at Unilever UK supported their response to the Public Health White Paper, covering issues such as food labelling, marketing and advertising to children and product reformulation.

Outside of work, Duncan is a trustee of the People’s Health Trust.

Sally Williamson

Sally Williamson is a founding member and Director of Salus.

Throughout her career, Sally has demonstrated her commitment and passion for securing services that really make a difference to children, young people, their families, school and communities. Being a director of a ground-breaking social enterprise has provided endless opportunities to explore creative ways to do this and achieve the best possible outcomes.

Sally has more than 20 years’ experience of working across children’s services and strategic management for a number of local authorities and the Government Office London (GOL), prior to its demise.  Her most recent roles, before becoming Director of Salus, include Head of Attendance and Behaviour (including Alternative Provision) for Kent County Council (KCC), Children and Learners Strategic Adviser for GOL and Senior Commissioning Officer for KCC.

Sally and the services she has been responsible for have won numerous awards and accolades in recognition of their impact on the lives of children, their families and communities.

Save the date
We will be holding a follow-up twilight session for this conference on Wednesday 22 January 2020, 16.00-18.00.