Tuesday 11 January 2011

Teens can turn to mobiles for instant help

The best thing about this blog is helping get the message out to people about products and advice that they really need. As a teacher of 11-15-year-olds, I know that teenagers often don't like to ask adults about "embarrassing stuff" - not just sex but also self-harm, bullying and abuse, not forgetting that age-old question "Am I normal ?" - and when they go looking online or asking their mates instead, they get some very warped versions of the truth. This new information service on their mobile phones could help them get discreet but reliable answers to those questions that are really bothering them but that they are too shy to ask. More information in the press release below :

Many teens already rely on their mobiles for social networking, downloading music and playing games. But more and more are now using them to access information, too.

GoGetInfo is a pioneering mobile information service for young people that’s responding to this need.

For the first time, sending a single text to a dedicated number will give them instant access 24/7 to confidential help and advice on one of the top 10 issues they’re likely to face, including:

• where to get emergency contraception

• how to use a condom

• what to do if they’re being bullied

• how to get help for self-harm

GoGetInfo works by delivering a package of practical text content, images and video clips to mobiles using WAP technology. Its makers have worked with technology partner O2 for two years in research and development.

All the topics have been extensively researched, with content provided, or checked and approved, by experts at the sexual health charities FPA and Brook and leading youth charities including YouthNet. GoGetInfo has also consulted with the Department of Health and there’s been feedback and detailed direction given by teenagers via focus groups.

Louise Orpin, GoGetInfo director and founder of Sense Interactive, says: ‘If young people are in a difficult situation with no one else to turn to, it makes sense to be able to access vital info from their mobile. They’ve told us they desperately need a service like this.’

‘We know they’re more likely to take vital information on board if it's in a format they like, so are hoping GoGetInfo could help reduce teenage pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and help with issues such as abuse, self-harm and bullying.’

‘It’s especially important given that sex and relationships education is no longer to be made statutory in England.’

GoGetInfo is also vital because:

- It’s confidential, comprehensive, and available 24/7 to any young person aged 12-18 with data access on their mobile phone, whatever network they’re on. Teenagers can already get ‘text only’ information sent to their phone by other organisations, but only during limited hours and on limited subjects. What happens if they need immediate help in the middle of the night with a problem like bullying, self-harm or abuse, or if they haven’t used a condom properly? They may not be able to - or don’t want to - ask anyone for help or look online. GoGetInfo provides immediate substantial content and video clips, plus answers to frequently asked questions and advice on where to get further help and advice.

- It’s trustworthy. Not everything online is accurate or appropriate. All GoGetInfo downloads are produced by leading experts with decades of relevant experience.

- There’s no computer required. Young people may not be near a computer when they need to find things out. Or they might not want to search for sensitive subjects on the family PC.

The downloads are intended for young people of 12 and over. At the beginning of each download, users are asked to click on their age range before they can move on to the content: 12-13; 14-15; 16-18; or 18+.

Natika H Halil, Director of Information, FPA:

‘Young people want reliable information about sexual health from sources they can trust, and a responsible download service like this one is a very acceptable way to provide it. Mums, dads and teachers can also use the service themselves to find out what information’s available to teenagers about these issues.’

Simon Blake, National Director, Brook:

'Ideally, young people and parents are able to talk to each other about sex, contraception and STIs. But they often feel too embarrassed or awkward. These unique downloads are a great way for teenagers to get accurate advice - and give a good starting point for discussion.'

Fiona Dawe OBE, Chief Executive, YouthNet:

‘We’re delighted to be a part of this innovative new mobile service, so young people get support whenever and wherever they need it. Through GoGetInfo, thousands of young people will have another means of accessing the excellent self-harm support available on our online guide to life, TheSite.org.’

James Lasbrey, Head of Interactive Sales, O2:

‘Teenagers use mobile phones all the time, yet this kind of information is usually only found in textbooks or leaflets. By using our technology we can bring vital information to today’s younger people wherever they are, and in line with their communication habits. This gives both choice and flexibility to the teenager to consume information on the move, when they want it.’

The full list of GoGetInfo downloads is:

Bullying (text Bully to 60110); Abuse (text Abuse to 60110); Self-harm (text Self harm to 60110); Emergency contraception (text EC to 60110); Contraception (text Contraception to 60110); Condom use (text Condom to 60110); STIs (text STI to 60110); I think I'm pregnant (text Pregnant to 60110); Pressure to have sex (text Pressure to 60110); and Am I normal? (text Normal to 60110).

Each download costs 50p (plus standard data charges for videos). Local authorities or schools can buy ‘bundles’ to give away to teenagers in their area, and the service can be localised.

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