Computer game will help stay safe online

Online chat is now available at East Ren Council
Online chat is now available at East Ren Council

People with learning disabilities from Midlothian have created a novel computer game to help themselves stay safe online.

Developed along with experts at University of the West of Scotland, the prototype game called #keepmesafe simulates common scenarios faced by people using the internet.

Participants were aged from 16 to around 40, and had been involved with their local area co-ordination networks in Edinburgh and Midlothian.

They played a key role in the design phase, discussing their online fears and ways of overcoming them with staff from Midlothian Council and experts from UWS’ Scottish Centre for Enabling Technologies (SCET), which is behind the interactive tool.

Idong Usoro, technical director at SCET, 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.”

The development teams used the information received from those taking part to create the prototype of the game, which was then given to participants to try out.

Stuart Caulfield, new media education project officer in health and social care with Midlothian Council, said: “Feedback from the young people has been incredibly positive. 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.”