When we interact with digital kids about their hyper-connected lives, I wish we could de-emphasize the fear factor and re-emphasize education and understanding, helping young users become stronger digital world problem-solvers.
A day doesn’t go by without hearing an adult comment about children’s digital world risks, and invariably these conversations focus on predators, strangers, pornography, and cyber-bullying. The relatively high concern about these potential Internet encounters — events that do not occur nearly as often as the mainstream media imply — obscures the importance of so many other interactive problems that happen all of the time to digital kids — daily social events gone awry. It’s these problems, often the result of online mis-judgments, that most often contribute to a child’s public humiliation and embarrassment.
An article worth reading, Risks, Opportunities, and Realities of Children’s Internet Usage: A Few Moments With Sonia Livingstone, is posted over at the DML Central blog. The piece features an interview with Dr. Livingstone, a professor at the London School of Economics (LSE) who chairs the Department of Media and Communication, and whose research focuses on children’s online safety and risk. The interview covers topics such as developing digital skills, parental control of their children’s Internet activities, risk, and potential harm. While Dr. Livingstone’s research focuses on children and families in Europe, her thoughts and research results may be just as pertinent for families in the United States.
If you want to read a lot more about Dr. Livingstone’s research, check out the PDF report describing the comprehensive 25 country LSE study of more than 25,000 European children, ages 9 – 16, and their parents. Risks and Safety on the Internet is well-researched, detailed, and readable. Easy-to-read graphs are also included. The report offers parents, yes even in the United States, an accurate digital world prism through which to view the lives and activities of preadolescents and teens.