“Are you a bot?”
Something inside of me never ceases to wonder in amazement at what lies behind this question that often – too often – frames the opening salvo of a conversation with Kellimni.com*. Our teenagers want to connect. They loath what is false or artificial but desperately crave for connections that are real, significant and genuine: qualities that make a relationship deeply human. This need to connect drives them to reach out continuously, lest they end up alone. For nothing is as scary, or as hurtful, to the average teen as loneliness. Being left out is unbearable at an age when they are willing to do almost anything to be accepted by their peers and blend in.
Enter Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram and Kik: instant gratification and connection are only two key clicks away. But hold on a second, how safe are they online? Who are they hanging out with in cyberspace? And, by the way, how in tune are caring adults with their world?
Teenagers may have a rough time distinguishing the good guys from the bad in cyberspace. Superficiality does not impress them either, for it renders them cheap. They sometimes flirt with it but their sensitive nature often only tolerates it to an extent. And then they feel bad about themselves…
Kellimni.com reaches out to all teens in these islands with a message rich in humanity: real people, professionally trained to support the young, through a genuinely caring relationship that begins, and ends, online… a relationship where the young can feel free and remain anonymous if they wish, and where what they share is respected and held in confidence.
Connecting is cool but can yield complications, so Kellimni.com provides a corner in cyberspace where the young can explore in safety whatever is going on in their life. With the help of a sensible caring adult they may learn that life is worth living despite its ups and downs, and that living means relating… and that relating takes time and effort. They will also experience first-hand that there are people out there ready to support them.
[ *Kellimni.com is a service run in partnership by the Salesians of Don Bosco, Agenzija Appogg, Agenzija Zghazagh and SOS Malta ]
Antoine Farrugia sdb MSc(Child Protection & Welfare)
Fr. Antoine Farrugia is a Salesian of Don Bosco and a Social Worker with twenty years’ experience in services for vulnerable children and young people in Malta and abroad. Originally a graduate in Computer Science, he combines studies in Humanities, Psychology and Social Work Management with a Masters in Child Protection & Welfare (TCD) developing services that meet the needs of young people and their carers. Serving on the Boards of NGOs in Malta and Brussels, he has recently been appointed Chaplain to the Malta College of Art, Science and Technology (MCAST).