Computer game designed to help vulnerable users stay safe online

he prototype game #keepmesafe simulates common scenarios faced by vulnerable people. Picture: Contributed

he prototype game #keepmesafe simulates common scenarios faced by vulnerable people. Picture: Contributed

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PEOPLE with learning disabilities have helped create a computer game to help protect themselves from online predators.

The prototype game #keepmesafe simulates common scenarios faced by vulnerable people using the internet, including staying safe on social media, navigating digital relationships and online shopping.

Participants aged 16 to 40 worked with experts at the Scottish Centre for Enabling Technologies (SCET) to design the game, discussing their online fears and ways to overcome them, with support from staff at Midlothian Council.

The development teams used this information to create the prototype of the game, which was then given to participants across Edinburgh and Midlothian to try out.

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Idong Usoro, SCET technical director, said: “Young people can relate very easily to computer games, so this is a logical way of engaging them with the information they need to stay safe online.

“For many young people, chatting with others online is now their main source of interaction. This is especially true for those with learning difficulties, so it’s important they are aware of the dangers so they can prepare for them.”

Stuart Caulfield, new media education project officer in health and social care with Midlothian Council, said the response from users had been “incredibly positive”.

He said: “They all face various challenges but this process brought them together and helped them learn about online safety, which is crucial for them in their day-to-day lives.

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“We don’t want young people with additional support needs to avoid social media - quite the opposite. It’s important they know how to use sites like Facebook, Amazon and Twitter safely so they can be confident and in control of their social lives.”

Developers expect the final version of the game to be ready later in 2016.

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