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
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?
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.