I'm delighted to be curating the Digital Safety strand at Learning Without Frontiers, an international festival of learning and technology, taking place in London January 9th-11th. I very much hope to see some of you there, but if you can make it in person or not I hope you'll join in the discussions.
The first session, running from 9.45am – 10.45am on the 11th, is titled e-Safety: The Critical Agenda. The session gives some of the UK's foremost practitioners in the field of e-Safety an opportunity to propose and defend what they think are the most important issues facing e-safety research, policy and practice today.
Chaired by David White (senior manager, TALL, University of Oxford), the panel includes Will Gardner (CEO Childnet International), Sonia Livingstone (Head, Department of Media and Communications LSE) Annika Small, Director Nominet Trust. Each speaker will propose the two issues or topic areas they believe to be amongst the most important current e-safety concerns and defend their priorities.
Everyone is welcome to join in and contribute to the debate. We'll be taking questions and discussion from 10.15, with comments and questions welcome via Twitter – the conference tag is #lwf11.
We'd also like you to vote! Please let us know what your top three e-safety priorities are – you can also submit your own e-safety priority area.
Voting will close at 11am on the 11th of January so that the results can be announced/posted at the start of the second session.
Here are the panels selections. You can vote from this post under the descriptions, or open the vote selections in a new window by clicking here.
- Address geolocation services
Geolocation services offer many interesting opportunities for learning and interacting. However, they also raise some serious issues – about personal safety, about privacy, and about just how well we understand and manage service settings. Geolocation services can currently be considered emblematic of the lag between new and emerging technological practices and tools and public and educational policy and practice. Because of the seriousness of their potential misuse, we must prioritise ensuring both independent and service provider information about effectively managing risks is available to children, young people, parents and educators.
- Network responsibility not just personal responsibility
e-Safety is often regarded as an issue of personal responsibility. However, unlike other safety issues, many areas of digital safety and cyberbullying characteristically take place within networks. We should focus on supporting the skills to operate successfully within networks – including taking responsibility for looking out for all members within those networks. This approach requires reviewing how we respect others digital identities and privacy, and how we negotiate issues of consent.
- Parents and carers remain a priority
There has been a lot of work aimed at parents particularly in the UK, including with the UK Council's Zip it, Block it, Flag it campaign, Childnet’s Know IT All for Parents, as well as a range of other initiatives and information, including from service providers. Yet this need is a continual one as parents and carers continue to have a key role.
- Increase the trust and transparency in reporting to service providers.
Research shows that reporting to service providers by young people is currently not high. In the social networking world, where moderation provided by service providers is limited and a reliance is put on the user community to self-moderate, it is vital that the reporting process becomes as transparent as possible.
- Reaching younger children
The age at which children first go online, and use social media sites and services, is decreasing. This raises new challengers for educators and parents to find appropriate ways to discuss issues such as sexuality, pornography, violence and drugs that, previously we’ve hoped to leave until post-primary school. My research suggests that, although few young children encounter online risks, when they do it is particularly upsetting for them. Additionally, parents and carers will not necessarily be aware when children have encountered upsetting material. Addressing safety advice to young children therefore raises new and pressing challenges.
- Engaging with already vulnerable children and young people
Research shows that children and young people who are vulnerable or at risk offline are also likely to be more at risk online. While many children will encounter something online that bothers or upsets them, most are reasonably well able to deal with it. However, those who are vulnerable, lacking in social support or facing other difficulties may lack resilience, or even seek to engage in high risk activities. Already vulnerable children and young people may well be particularly in need of safety advice to address online risks, and may also be one of the hardest to engage groups.
- Integrating e-Safety into Digital Literacy
Nationally, we need a greater emphasis on digital literacy and e-safety should be a key part of this – and not considered as a stand alone issue. The digital landscape is changing all the time and young people need to be equipped to cope with – and contribute to – this dynamic environment.
- Engaging young people in e-safety discussions
In order for e-Safety advice to be relevant and remain up-to-date, it is critical that we ensure young people are involved in the identification, co-design and sharing of digital safety resources and practices.