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January 5, 2024 Young people turning to AI therapist bots 

  • A total of 78 million messages, including 18 million since November, have been shared with the bot since it was created by a user called Blazeman98 just over a year ago.
  • The chatbot called Psychologist is the most popular mental health character on the site.
  • On, anyone can create chatbots based on fictional or real people.
  • Theresa Plewman, a professional psychotherapist, tested Psychologist, and reported that she is not surprised this type of therapy is popular with younger generations, but questions its effectiveness.
  • Theresa says the bot fails to gather all the information a human would and is not a competent therapist.
  • However, she says its immediate and spontaneous nature might be useful to people who need help.
  • Last year an AI service called Limbic Access was the first mental health chatbot to secure a UK medical device certification by the government and is now used in NHS trusts to classify and triage patients.
  • For more, please visit the BBC News website.

Facebook launches ‘link history’ tool that tracks where people go on the internet 

  • Facebook is rolling out a new tool that lets it track the links users click on.
  • The new “link history” is a catalogue of websites that people have visited within Facebook, which is stored in one location and visitors can navigate back to it to see where they have clicked.
  • Facebook is marketing the new feature as a way of storing links that might otherwise be lost or forgotten.
  • The link history tool keeps a collection of those links that have been clicked within the last 30 days.
  • The tool also gives the same information to Facebook, which it will use for ads: “When you allow link history, we may use your information to improve your ads across Meta technologies.”
  • It is “being introduced globally over time and may not be available in your location”.
  • Facebook states: “When you turn link history off, we will immediately clear your link history and you will no longer be able to see any links that you’ve visited. Additionally, we won’t save your link history or use it to improve your ads across Meta technologies.”
  • However, they note it may take up to 90 days for the data collected to be cleared from Meta’s servers.
  • You can turn link history on or off – see Facebook’s Help Centre.
  • For more, please visit the Yahoo News website.

The following story may be regionalised:

Wokingham children put in care hundreds of miles from home 

  • Young people in Wokingham, Berkshire, have been sent as far as Lancashire, Yorkshire and North Wales to be housed in private care homes.
  • The borough council reported it was due to lack of suitable accommodation in the local area.
  • Councillor Prue Bray, responsible for children’s care in Wokingham, said she wanted the authority to open more of its own homes.
  • She stated: “There will always be some children who need really specialist care but at the moment we are one of a large number of authorities who have found ourselves with children where there’s no place for them anywhere in the country.”
  • Ms Bray continued: “If you’ve got a child in that situation, the nearest place might be Scotland or Wales – just horrendous.”
  • The local authority reported that it has bought three properties in Earley and Arborfield which is plans to open as homes for children.
  • For more, please visit the BBC News website.

Government to fund school ‘attendance mentors’ in worst-hit areas of England 

  • The government is planning to help school attendance in England, with the education secretary to announce funding for “attendance mentors” in some of the worst-affected areas.
  • The plans include caseworkers for one-to-one support for pupils in 10 areas including Blackpool and Walsall, where rates of unauthorised absences remain far above national levels.
  • A £15m tender by the Department for Education (DfE) last year estimated that the recruited mentors would work with 3,600 children for one year initially, in addition to the 1,600 children to be mentored in the pilots run by Barnardo’s over three years.
  • In one case, a mentor from Barnardo’s found a girl was not attending school because she had to share her family’s single pair of shoes with her mother.
  • Lynn Perry, Barnardo’s chief executive reported: “In Middlesbrough, 82% of the children we have worked with improved their attendance through one-on-one support from an attendance mentor, with almost two-thirds of the children saying their mental health also improved.”
  • For more, please visit The Guardian website.

GCSE English will no longer be handwritten under exam board plans 

  • From 2025, pupils taking English Language and English Literature with the exam board Edexcel, will be allowed to type their answers.
  • The move aims to make it easier for pupils to edit their answers and simpler for papers to be marked.
  • Up to 125,000 GCSE English candidates (approximately 20%) will have the choice to complete their exam on-screen or by hand under the plans which are being reviewed by the Department for Education and Ofqual.
  • Pearson, the company which runs Edexcel, hopes to be able to offer an on-screen option for all GCSEs by 2030 to increase accessibility for students.
  • The managing director for Pearson Schools, Sharon Hague, reported that “On-screen is a better experience for students who need accessibility adjustments.”
  • However, experts stressed the importance of maintaining handwriting as part of children’s “literacy toolbox” and warned of the dangers of the loss of the skill.
  • Also, headteachers have warned of the dangers of a move to online assessments widening the disadvantage gap between pupils.
  • For more, please visit the Telegraph website.