Monday, June 28, 2010

Let's all be careful out there

We're all very worried about what our children are getting up to on the net. At least that's the angle that sells newspapers and magazines and turns up repeatedly on TV. There are indeed many things to be worried about on the net, as there are in society in general. The dangers our children face on the net are part of the real world we live in and as long as society works as it does those crimes will take place on or off the net.

However it's strange how we worry so much about what the kids are doing without examining our own behaviour on line. Adults are often less security conscious than their children - look at how many fall foul of get-rich-quick e-mails or other net scams (see article in New York Times). Many parents are worried simply because they don't know much about internet themselves and believe the scare stories they read. As a result we get calls for bans on net access in schools and other draconian measure instead of learning to use the net in a responsible manner.

This is covered in an excellent presentation by David Truss who advocates a more balanced and enlightened attitude to our children's net habits. They're actually doing just what we did when we were young but in a different environment. We watched too much TV, listened to too much pop music, were out too late without saying where we were etc etc. In some ways children were left more to their own devices in the past than today where the concept of the over-protective "curling parents" has become so common.

We all need to learn to work and play more responsibly on the net and that starts both at home and in school. Banning, blocking and dismissing modern communication is not the way forward.


  1. Wow, Alastair!

    Thank you for both sharing my presentation and also for exemplifying the points within it so well.

    So many parents (and policymakers) seem to think that they can filter away the 'problems'. But what happens when a kid goes over to a friend's house where nothing is filtered and they have had zero experience dealing with what comes up?

    What happens when a kid, banned from Facebook, decides to open an account and does so behind parent's backs? Who can that kid turn to when being bullied?

    In both these cases all that happens is that parents prevent themselves from being a positive influence and guide to their kids.

    Thanks again,

  2. Thanks Dave. Just finished reading in NYT. Assume you've also seen it. Very relevant to the discussion.

  3. I actually saw it, but did not read it. If they are going to quote a principal known to say,
    "It is time for every single member of the BF Community to take a stand! There is absolutely no reason for any middle school student to be a part of a social networking site!" Orsini wrote in a widely circulated email to his student's parents.
    Then I'm going to go and find my information elsewhere. There is probably nothing in that article that almost all middle school teachers, even in the 'nicest' neighbourhoods hasn't seen. But Orsini's approach is painfully naive and if that's the 'expert' voice the NYT is going to quote... I'm not wasting my time with it.
    (Sorry that was a bit of an unnecessary rant to a very kind question.)

  4. It's a fine example of the fears and misconceptions that abound. Important that more balanced replies are not just confined to the blogosphere but should be clearly visible in the mainstream media.