Parents to be educated about the Interweb


There’s a well-balanced piece from Patrick Wintourin the Guardian today about parents being shown how to protect their children online.

It reports of a government initiative based on a review by Dr Tanya Byron (she works as a consultant in child and adolescent mental health and also presented quite a few programmes for the BBC on the subject).

I’ve only skim-read the main points of the report (which is available for download in full), but it makes interesting reading. The most important aspect is that she goes quite thoroughly through the pros and cons of the use of technologies – from social networks and general internet use to online videogames. It also draws upon a lot of evidence from children themselves.

It’s nice to see Byron is not pedalling the old ‘it rots young minds and they’re all being groomed by pedophiles’ line, by rather she looks at the complexities of the interactions between parents, children, society and technology:

“Ironically parents’ concerns about risk and safety of their children in the streets and outside has driven a generation of children indoors, where it could be argued they are being exposed to a whole new set of risks.”

It’s good to see some of the onus being put back on parents too. The use of these technologies is not inherently better or worse than what children used in previous generations and I’ve lost count of the amount of conversations I’ve had about videogames.

Arguably the use of these technologies are mostly beneficial, especially in the future that children will be growing into. The real problem is that many parents have no idea about how the internet functions, about social spaces online or the culture of videogames and that really needs to change.

It’s good to see this kind of research and well worth a read – it’s well-written too. (There are also quite a few annexed documents about the methodology and brain development research that background the report).

Photo: uncleboatshoes on Flickr

[tags]Tanya Byron, child development, videogames, parenting[/tags]

2 Replies

  • thanks for that Andy, I am going over the linked reports now… good reading. I for one, with a 3 year old already feel left behind with the changeson the internet and eveyrthing attached to it.

    I was told last week by a 15 year old that Facebook was for old people that dont get out enough… maybe i am missing something. I don’t even have a myspace page, maybe thats why they thought I was old and stupid… ‘but I have my own website under my name…’ no, not even that was cool enough.

    Even as an early adopter of things like the internet (1992 for me using a modem on my Atar 1040 ste, tho there was really nothing there) I feel quite out of touch with the internet in 2008. I mean, it takes time to be invoved, and i dont have time.

    People of my generation (i was born in 1971) were subjected to new forms of video games etc in the 80s and the net in early 90s, but hey, its all melted into a different beast now that its 2008.

    somebody stop this thing, i need to get off and my son is hogging youtube watching wiggles videos as he swallows all our bandwidth. time to kill my net connection.


  • I don’t think you’ve got a lot to worry about. You’ve got your own website, you are/have been a web designer. Look, you’re even commenting on a blog. How modern can you get?

    That story from the 15 year-old about Facebook is great though. Mobile is where it’s at for those kids. Or Bebo, which is crap.

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