Cyberhus (Cyberhus)

Published on: 01/12/2008
Document

Cyberhus is a Danish charity and online meeting place with currently 17,000 unique visitors every month. Cyberhus is particularly keen to reach out to less-privileged children in need of help and guidance from trustworthy adults. Cyberhus (English: “Cyberhouse”) was founded in 2004 by Mrs Anni Marquard as a partner charity under the 100-year-old youth charity, Ungdommens Vel ('Youth Welfare'). Four years on, Cyberhus is now a popular youth site offering a wide range of activities for children and teens. At Cyberhus young people can get advice from trained counsellors through the anonymous chat counselling service. Browsing the website one will see that Cyberhus consists of virtual rooms. Each room has a different theme – music, art, IT, beauty and fashion. In each room kids can express themselves creatively, write reviews, post messages in discussion forums, get peer-to-peer support through various discussion boards, ask questions related to teen life and get advice from our twelve skilled advisers and much more. Mission ''Starting from a voluntary and non-commercial work, it is Cyberhus' mission to renew the way we meet and enter into dialogue with children and teens. This happens through innovative uses of internet-based counselling and activities which advise, involve and develop the children and teens on their own terms. This is done in accordance with our values: Trust, respect and broadness.'' Vision ''Cyberhouse wishes to be the preferred virtual and socio-pedagogical meeting place for at-risk children and teens in Denmark.''

Description of target users and groups

At Cyberhus we place high emphasis on our young users' active involvement in building and improving the website in ways that meet their current needs and interests. Reaching out to young people who are disadvantaged or marginalised from their more privileged peers is Cyberhus' primary goal. We seek to encourage them to use digital technology in ways that improve their self-confidence and life-skills, bringing them closer to achieving purposeful goals. Using the Internet as our primary medium, Cyberhus strives to bring together communities of interest throughout Denmark, helping young people gain confidence and acquire new skills. Ideally, the success young people from disadvantaged backgrounds have as users of cyberhus.dk will empower them to participate in wider society activities.

Description of the way to implement the initiative

1. Cyberhus takes part in all relevant children and youth-oriented networks and collaborates with high profile organisations including The Danish Media Council for Children and Young People, Save the Children, Innovation Lab, the Danish Government, local schools and the University of Aarhus. 2. Every second month Cyberhus issues an e-newsletter to all partners. One hundred and fifty partners are currently subscribing to this newsletter. 3. Weekly blogging: An offcial Cyberhus blog has been in use since before Cyberhus was officially launched in 2004. On this blog visitors to the site, external partners and journalists can read the latest news about upcoming and ongoing projects, new partnerships, initiatives and advances in Cyberhus. 4. Cyberhus regularly publishes articles in journals and magazines related to children and young people. 5. Cyberhus issues quarterly press releases in the local and national media.

Technology solution

Technology choice: Standards-based technology, Open source software

Main results, benefits and impacts

? Impact: 3,100 exposed children and teens to date have been helped by our counsellors via the chat counselling service. The children are guaranteed full anonymity and discretion. Therefore only the basic data of each counselling session (i.e. time, date, age, gender, subject) is registered and saved in a database. The counsellors use these data for statistical purposes. In that way they can monitor the number of conversations within any time frame they wish, create cross-statistics and get a useful overview of different problem areas as well as gender and age spread, etc. So far 2,500 children and teenagers throughout Denmark have been actively involved in e-related activities via school visits, workshops and street events hosted by Cyberhus. Each school visit and workshop is registered for the purpose of keeping a statistical overview of the increasing number of visits and workshops.

Return on investment

Return on investment: Not applicable / Not available

Track record of sharing

1. Cyberhus takes part in all relevant children and youth-oriented networks and collaborates with high profile organisations including The Danish Media Council for Children and Young People, Save the Children, Innovation Lab, the Danish Government, local schools and the University of Aarhus. 2. Every second month Cyberhus issues an e-newsletter to all partners. One hundred and fifty partners are currently subscribing to this newsletter. 3. Weekly blogging: An offcial Cyberhus blog has been in use since before Cyberhus was officially launched in 2004. On this blog visitors to the site, external partners and journalists can read the latest news about upcoming and ongoing projects, new partnerships, initiatives and advances in Cyberhus. 4. Cyberhus regularly publishes articles in journals and magazines related to children and young people. 5. Cyberhus issues quarterly press releases in the local and national media.

Lessons learnt

Cyberhus chat counselling service Cyberhus’ core service is the anonymous and confidential chat counselling service for children and teens facing problems. All children and young people regardless of their age can seek help through this service. Cyberhus’ trained counsellors especially endeavour to help marginalized and socially deprived children whose lives are marked by parental violence, sexual abuse, depression, social isolation, etc. So far the counsellors have had over 3000 confidential conversations with children and teens online. The children can talk with a counsellor about any problem great or small, e.g. love troubles, arguments with friends, school bullying, sexual abuse, domestic violence, loneliness, self-harm, eating disorders, or anything else that is worrying them. It is a requirement that each volunteer counsellor has a professional background within the social services field. Hence, most of our counsellors are social workers or psychologists. Cyber School Cyberhus’ Cyber School service offers IT workshops for school children and their teachers throughout Denmark. At each IT workshop our Cyber School agents lead discussions with the children about ‘netiquette’ and internet safety. The Cyber School team is in touch with 25 to 50 school children each week. Cyberactive Team This team consists of twenty children and teens between age 10 and 18 who are actively involved in keeping the Cyberhus website up to date. The cyberactive children spend their spare time writing articles on different youth-related topics for the website and/or reviewing books and films

Scope: International, Local (city or municipality), National, Regional (sub-national)