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Volunteering at Scouts is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing at Scouts. Read more

Discover what this means

Digital Scouts: which platform to use?

Privacy, security and data protection issues should be your first consideration when deciding which digital platform to use.

There are many different platforms you can use to communicate online, if you’re not familiar with some of these platforms, ask family and friends what platforms they use, and whether they’re finding them easy to use. They’re all slightly different with different features, and most importantly, different levels of security and privacy.

As we're not able to give any tech advice or help you with using specific digital tools, if you have technical questions it's best to contact customer services for the platform you're using.

Popular platforms

Here are some popular platforms you might want to look at when deciding how to run your activity or session online. They have different benefits and features, so think about which might work best for you and your group.

For any concerns related to the apps in this guidance or any others, please raise formally through the volunteer line-management chain.

Make sure the platform you're using is secure and that no one who isn’t part of your group can gain access. Platforms like WhatsApp, Skype and FaceTime only allow access to selected users, ie: no one can join a group on one of these platforms without approval from the admin or a code/link to the call.

Breakout rooms 

During your virtual meetings, if you have an activity that will involve breaking out into a smaller group, as long as there is more than one young person within the group, you do not need more than one adult to be present. This will ensure that the yellow card is being adhered to at all times.  

For example: If you have five young people within a breakout activity with one adult, this is acceptable. Although it is not OK to have one adult with one young person in any activity.

If you experience an incident:

  • Close the chat immediately.
  • Tell the parents that an incident has occurred.
  • Report to the police locally if the incident involved criminal activity.
  • Report to to log the incident and the team can provide support to any young people affected if required.


Go to the Zoom website

Good for: Can be used for interactive video calling for free for up to 100 participants for up to 40 minutes.

Not good for: Should not be used as a file store.

Security: There’s been a lot of stories in the news about uninvited users on Zoom ‘gatecrashing’ video calls. You can protect your Zoom meeting from uninvited guests by following the below guidance:

  • The host should use the most up-to-date version of Zoom.
  • Use a different password for each meeting using alphabetical and numerical characters.
  • Send the password separately to the room ID, preferably through a separate channel.
  • Change your meeting settings to allow only signed-in users to join.
  • Operate a waiting room this will allow the moderator to not admit anyone not recognised.
  • Do not allow screen sharing.
  • Lock the meeting.

Read more on the Zoom blog on keeping your meetings private.

To ensure the safe use of Zoom for our Volunteer members, Scouts has taken the following steps; 

  • Followed best practice guidance for securing Zoom for virtual classrooms and schools.
  • Followed NSPCC net-aware guidance for parents.
  • Worked with TSA safeguarding to assure the Zoom environment and its settings are operationally appropriate.
  • Engaged with external data protection and security subject-matter experts to review and assure the Zoom environment and its settings are compliant and secure.
  • Provided updated guidance to members on how to use Zoom safely, in addition to the existing staying safe online guides.

Zoom Pro member accounts:

Scouts have secured access to Zoom Pro for members to use while they are volunteering, subject to availability. Find out more on our Free access to Zoom Pro page.

We've pre-set the following settings in Zoom to meet Scouts safeguarding guidance, these are not able to be changed. The following settings have been applied - 

Switched on:

  • Require a password for all meeting types
  • Waiting room for all participants
  • Host can report meeting participants for inappropriate behaviour to Zoom

Switched off:

  • Join before the host for participants
  • Embed password in meeting link for one-click join
  • Private 1:1 chat
  • Allow removed participants to rejoin
  • Allow participants to rename themselves
  • Remote support - allow meeting host to provide 1:1 remote support to another participant
  • Live streaming of meetings
  • Allow another user to take control of your camera during a meeting

Other settings can be configured based on your needs. The Zoom help center provides further guidance on how to do this.

Minimum age: 16 years old to sign up to host a call

For further support using digital tools like Zoom, email the Digital Eagles at to be linked up with one of their team.

Backgrounds you can use on your Zoom calls:

You can find backgrounds for you to use on your live video calls, such as on Zoom, on the Scout brand centre.

Accessibility features on Zoom:

Zoom has some great accessibility features. There are keyboard shortcuts which you can use to allow you to navigate Zoom without using your mouse.

You can find these settings in your Zoom desktop client settings, under Accessibility. The Zoom help center has a useful article on hot keys and keyboard shortcuts >.


Go to the WhatsApp website

Good for: Closed group text communications on mobile devices. Ability to share photos and video.

Not good for: Group video/voice calls, groups are limited to four people. Should not be used as a file store.

Security: Encrypted, as a US company alignment to GDPR is adequate.

Minimum age: 13 years old

Please note:

  • The user must adhere to the age restrictions of the platform
  • There must be more than 1 adult in the group
  • There must never be 1:1 contact between an adult and a young person (and any 1:1 contact from a young person should not be responded to and parent/carer and line manager should be informed)
  • WhatsApp shouldn’t be the only means of communication (to ensure those without or not using it for this purpose are not disadvantaged)



Go to the Facebook website

Good for: Communicating within a closed group. Ability to share photos and video. Can stream video live.

Not good for: Should not be used as a file store.

Security: The password should be set as complex and unique to any other platform account, encrypted, as a US company alignment to GDPR is adequate. If using a Facebook group for communication, make sure you set your group to ‘private’ and only allow access to those people who are part of your Scout Group.

Minimum age: 13 years old


Go to the Skype website

Good for: Up to 25 people can chat together with video or audio, screen sharing, chat.

Not good for: Should not be used as a file store.

Security: The password should be set as complex and unique to any other platform account, encrypted, as a US company alignment to GDPR is adequate.

Minimum age: 13 years old

Microsoft Teams

Go to the Microsoft Teams website

Good for: Interactive chat, live video calls, screen sharing, file sharing.

Not good for: Everyone needs to download the programme, which normally comes with a wider set of Microsoft tools. You may need to pay for a licence.

Security: Complex passwords required, encrypted, as a US company alignment to GDPR is adequate.

Minimum age: 13 years old

Google Meet 

Go to the Google Meet website 

Good for: Up to 250 people (if you have a G-Suite subscription) or 100 (if you have a basic G-Suite account) can chat together with video or audio, screen sharing, chat. Quick and easy to use and set up for basic video calls.

Not good for: Should not be used as a file store. Limited settings and choice for the more advanced users.

Security: Encrypted, if you have signed up with G-Suite and completed the GDPR set up then GDPR alignment is good.

Minimum age: 16 years old

Make sure you read each platform's security and privacy policies to find out about the below issues.

Limit personal data usage: Many collaboration platforms allow the sharing of files, but this should only be used as required and with limited personal data.

Limit access to any personal data: Access to the collaboration platform and the data within it should be limited to only those who require it. Collaboration platforms should be used among closed/private groups. This means the administrator only invites people to join who are part of their local Scout Group.

Retention of personal data: It’s important that any personal data captured in collaboration platforms is only kept as long as necessary. Data should be deleted as soon as possible to avoid the potential for any breaches of personal data and in line with the individuals’ expectations.

Inform the participants of personal data usage: Where personal data will be captured or used you should inform the participants of this. This will need to be clear and transparent, so the participants can make their own decision about whether they are comfortable to take part.

Is the platform secure? Most collaboration platforms out there take security seriously and are transparent about the measures they adopt to keep data safe. When assessing the security principles of a platform, it’s important to consider these questions:

  • Does the platform require a strong password?
  • Can you create roles based on access requirements?
  • Is the platform encrypted?

Where is the platform located? The GDPR applies in the EU, meaning all EU countries abide by the same principles. This is not always the case outside the EU. If a collaboration platform exists outside the EU (for example Zoom is a US based company) then you need to make sure the company align to GDPR principles. This is usually described in the company’s privacy policy.

Age requirements

Most collaboration platforms have an age requirement, on most users need to be over 13 to make an account.

Check the terms and conditions of services to make sure they are suitable for the Scouts in your group.

If the young people in your group are under the age limit of the tool you want to use, then their parents or carers must set up the required accounts and remain nearby through the meeting.

Staying safe online

Keeping everyone safe is the number one concern for all of us at the Scouts. Read our guidance on staying safe online.

Read the guidance on staying safe online