Child Online Safety or a Safeguarding Dystopia?

The risks posed by children’s use of social media has become a staple diet for some parts of the press.  But Is this a genuine concern, or just a moral panic? Professor Andy Phippen joined us in October to provide some perspective on the topic.

Although, doubtless influenced by media stories, people worry most about kids playing Grand Theft Auto, Andy pointed out that the Fifa series of games often courses most conflict and upset amongst children playing it. He also reminded us of the dangers of confusing correlation with causation when we’re trying to assess just how modern technologies are impacting on children’s lives.

Even when there is some basis for concern and action is taken, the complexity of the technology we use nowadays makes it difficult to find simple solutions that actually work, and not just give rise to inconsistent approaches and unexpected side effects.  None of this is helped by politicians’ inability to understand technology and its associated risks and complexities, or by some parents resistance to education that could enable children to better protect themselves.  Indeed, we need to ask ourselves if it actually is the technology that is the issue here, rather that our own confused and unhelpful responses to a changing world. Andy pointed out that addressing poor sex and relationship education while properly respecting children’s rights might lead us to a better solution.