Primary education: listening and observing
Primary education: listening and observing

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

4.1 Risks and opportunities

Sonia Livingstone, the lead author of the EU Kids Online Network project, has warned that the lack of technical, critical and social skills among younger children puts them at real risk online. Older children and teenagers are seen as more resilient and able to cope with the dangers they may face (Livingstone et al., 2011, p. 3). This is a risk that both parents and schools need to manage.

Activity 4 How children engage with the internet

Timing: Allow about 30 minutes

Listen to Sonia Livingstone taking about the risks and opportunities access to the internet brings. As you listen consider the following:

  • note the range of experiences of children (for example, some report no negative experiences; age and gender are mentioned)
  • consider how well acquainted you are with guidance about how to support children’s use of the internet
  • can you think of ten great websites, apps or educational computer games for children as the audience are challenged to?
Video 1
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

It is easy to understand why some fear for children, with stories of cyberbullying and grooming peppering news headlines. But Sonia Livingstone argues that we need to balance our reactions, and not necessarily impose more restrictions. She notes that as a society we always fear change and in particular technological revolutions, whether that be the invention of writing, ‘moving pictures’ or the internet. She argues that opportunities and risks are inextricably linked. By limiting their exposure to risk, we are limiting their opportunities to develop skills such as independent thinking and resilience.

To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371