Dr Tanya Byron has published her report into safer internet use and gaming. You can read the report HERE. This is the executive summary bullets:
The internet and video games are very popular with children and young people and offer a range of opportunities for fun, learning and development.
But there are concerns over potentially inappropriate material, which range from content (e.g. violence) through to contact and conduct of children in the digital world.
Debates and research in this area can be highly polarised and charged with emotion.
Having considered the evidence I believe we need to move from a discussion about the media ‘causing’ harm to one which focuses on children and young people, what they bring to technology and how we can use our understanding of how they develop to empower them to manage risks and make the digital world safer.
There is a generational digital divide which means that parents do not necessarily feel equipped to help their children in this space – which can lead to fear and a sense of helplessness. This can be compounded by a risk-averse culture where we are inclined to keep our children ‘indoors’ despite their developmental needs to socialise and take risks.
While children are confident with the technology, they are still developing critical evaluation skills and need our help to make wise decisions.
In relation to the internet we need a shared culture of responsibility with families, industry, government and others in the public and third sectors all playing their part to reduce the availability of potentially harmful material, restrict access to it by children and to increase children’s resilience.
I propose that we seek to achieve gains in these three areas by having a national strategy for child internet safety which involves better self-regulation and better provision of information and education for children and families.
In relation to video games, we need to improve on the systems already in place to help parents restrict children’s access to games which are not suitable for their age.
I propose that we seek to do that by reforming the classification system and pooling the efforts of the games industry, retailers, advertisers, console manufacturers and online gaming providers to raise awareness of what is in games and enable better enforcement.
Children and young people need to be empowered to keep themselves safe – this isn’t just about a top-down approach. Children will be children – pushing boundaries and taking risks. At a public swimming pool we have gates, put up signs, have lifeguards and shallow ends, but we also teach children how to swim.
She was interviewed on the BBC news this morning. You can watch it here: