Posts tagged ‘Security’

The Byron Review; E-Safety Internet Recommendations for Children

Across the pond, Dr. Tanya Byron, a Consultant Clinical Psychologist, recently released an important set of E-safety recommendations for children. Her report, “Safer Children in a Digital World,” was commissioned by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2007 in response to growing concerns about the dangers of the Internet.

Ms. Byron’s recommendations appear, dare we say it, “spot on.” She calls on all parties; the tech industry, government agencies (education, legal), and most importantly, parents and families, to work collaboratively on the issue of E-safety.

Byron ReviewPerhaps the most compelling aspect of her research as well as her recommendations is her sophisticated and global approach to the issue. Noting the inherent risk/reward nature of both the Internet and video gaming, Byron properly refrains from oversimplifying the matter.

Today we begin with a review of her research and the recommendations she makes regarding Internet safety. In a follow-up post, we will take a look at her research regarding video games.

Calls Parents To Task
In her report, Byron certainly is not afraid of upsetting parents, calling to attention the fact that many parents simply are not doing due diligence in regards to E-safety. “Many parents seem to believe that when their child is online it is similar to them watching television,” states Byron. “In fact it is more like opening the front door and letting your child go outside to play unsupervised.”

At the same time, the clinical psychologist recognizes the need for children to take risks, that it is an important aspect of their development as young people. One key aspect “of today’s risk-averse culture” notes Byron is that parents are “more inclined to keep children ‘indoors’ despite their developmental needs to socialize and take risks.”

But with a clear understanding of the typical behavior of youngsters the researcher states, “Children will be children – pushing boundaries and taking risks. As we increasingly keep our children at home because of fears for their safety outside” our children will tend to “play out their developmental drives to socialize” with the Internet and “take risks in the digital world.”

Byron ReviewAs with the recent Grand Theft Childhood study, Byron notes the complexities parents face with both the Internet and the current gaming culture. “Findings from the evidence show that the potential risks online are closely correlated with potential benefits.” Therefore, Byron strongly suggests a collaborative effort to minimize risks without removing the potential benefits of online access.

What Can Be Done to Increase E-Safety
According to Byron, “Everyone has a role to play in empowering children to stay safe while they enjoy these new technologies, just as it is everyone’s responsibility to keep children safe in the non-digital world. This new culture of responsibility spans parents, children and young people supported by Government, industry and the public.”

In regards to the Internet, Byron proposes a three prong approach to improve child safety when online. The three specific areas seek first to reduce the availability of improper materials, second, restrict access to such materials, and third, increase the resilience of children to harmful and inappropriate online material.

The first area could prove more controversial as it in essence creates possible regulations though Byron seeks to have these regulations come in the form of voluntary codes of practice for the industry. In this arena, Byron seeks a reduction in availability of harmful and inappropriate material “in the most popular part of the internet.” Byron recommends that search providers such as Google and Yahoo incorporate a ’safe search’ button that is prominently displayed on the search engine page. In addition, users should have the option of a “lock button” to ensure safe search options. Along with the button, Byron recommends that every search engine offer clear links “to child safety information and safe search settings on the front page of their website.”

In addition to seeking assistance from the search engine giants, Byron recommends that all home computers sold in the UK be equipped with standard parental control software specifically designed with clear prompts and explanations to help engage the parental control options. At the same time, Byron adds that all Internet Service Providers should prominently offer parental control options during the set up of any Internet connection.

From there, Byron turns to the appropriate education of parents and all adults who work with children. The notion is one of education as her recommended focus is on raising the “knowledge, skills and understanding around e-safety of children, parents and other responsible adults.” Essentially, Byron properly notes that parents also have a key role to play in managing a child’s proper Internet usage.

DFES.GOVIn her research, the consultant often found that higher Internet skill levels in children gave these youngsters greater confidence regarding Internet use. Yet, many of those same youngsters did not have either the maturity or have sufficient awareness to ensure they are actually safe online. Byron throws this issue into the lap of parents stating, “Parents either underestimate or do not realize how often children and young people come across potentially harmful and inappropriate material on the internet and are often unsure about what they would do about it.” For Byron, it is time parents became fully aware of the risks, learn what steps they should take to ensure greater E-safety, and then subsequently implement those steps.

Next Byron turns to schools and other child service providers to play a key role in helping children and their parents stay safe online. The consultant indicates that schools should deliver e-safety through the standard school curriculum. Byron indicates it is essential that children learn how to protect themselves (distributing private information, giving out contact details online, etc.). Here she seeks to build children’s resilience to any material to which they may be exposed. Youngsters need to have both the confidence and the skills to ensure their own online safety.

Bionic teachingIn regards to these extensive education programs, Byron refers to an “authoritative ‘one stop shop’ for child internet safety” based on extensive research regarding what different groups of users want.

Conclusion
In regards to E-safety on the Internet, Byron provides a compelling case for a collaborative approach to protecting children. The writer properly notes that “restricting children’s access to harmful and inappropriate material is not just a question of what industry can do to protect children.”

Such E-safety is the responsibility of parents, teachers, government officials and the technology industry collectively. Only when these groups seek to work in concert will we be able to truly protect our most vulnerable assets, our children.

Internet safety photo by Bionic teaching.

Author: Tom Hanson, OpenEducation Blog, 31st March 2008

[More from this author soon.]

Article available here.

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April 4, 2008 at 11:09 am Leave a comment

Recent Workshop Wikis: Sketchasting and More…

I’m in the middle of two weeks of relatively intense workshop activity and realized I haven’t been sharing my workshop wikis here lately. So, here are the agendas (with links to everything I mention and materials if applicable) for each of the recent workshops that I have permission to share:

Sketchcasting – This workshop was based on the latest tool I found to share with teachers using Tablet PCs. In essence, sketchast.com is a web-based sketching program that is actually responsive enough to work well with a Tablet PC pen and which allows users to save and share their sketches online, complete with narration. It’s like being able to save what happens on the whiteboard – erase the board and keep going as many times as you like during your narration.

Author: Mark Wagner, Educational Technology and Life Blog, 4th April 2008

Full article available here.

April 4, 2008 at 10:46 am Leave a comment

Children flock to social networks

Child uses a computer

Almost half of children online use social network sites

More than a quarter of eight to 11-year-olds who are online in the UK have a profile on a social network, research shows.

Most sites, such as Bebo, MySpace and Facebook, set a minimum age of between 13 and 14 to create a profile but none actively enforce the age limit.

Ofcom’s survey of 5,000 adults and 3,000 children found 49% of those aged between eight and 17 have a profile.

Ofcom says parents need to keep an eye on what their children do online.

Wide usage

The Ofcom report looks into the impact of social networks on people’s lives in the UK as part of a wider media literacy campaign and surveyed 5,000 adults and more than 3,000 children.

Author: Darren Waters, BBC News, Technology, 2nd April 2008

Full article available here.

April 2, 2008 at 1:49 pm Leave a comment

11 Suggestions for (Social) Networking Heaven – 11

11 – Light Versions (Split personality!)
Twitter is so popular because it is so Light! I mean, 140 characters, can work on cell phones (mostly ones here in the US, though.) However, as we look to link with people (and classrooms) in countries with little or no broadband access, we need to have easy ways for our (social) networking pages to connect to and from cell phones of all kinds.

Access in Africa
This first hit me during a recent discussion with Beth Kanter on Wow2. She is recently back from Cambodia where she was teaching 18-24 year old students about blogging. We need alternatives to make our content more concise, easy to read and the ability to pull residents of bandwidth-limited areas into our conversations.

Lemonade
Additionally, as I was listening to last week’s Digital Planet podcast from the BBC, I heard about the open cell phone standard entitled Lemonade which will make email access more readily available on even non-smart phones. So, why can’t we do the same thing with networking sites?

Author:

Full article available here.

April 1, 2008 at 12:36 pm 2 comments

11 Suggestions for (Social) Networking Heaven – 10

10) Identity Verification System
I would like to have an icon that says “identity verified” that you could get. They would have high standards of verification, like ssn, drivers license, etc. (Kind of like getting a Verisign ID) and then verify that your page is who you say you are. (Akin to the voluntary system being implemented in Second Life.)

So, if I went to a page of someone, I could see that it had been verified that that person is who they say they are. Then, we could teach people that if they don’t see such a sign, to know that it may or may not be that real person.

Online impersonations are a problem and there needs to be a way to combat it without limited freedom of speech, parody sites, etc. Some people just don’t know to have that instant skepticism and harm has come in some situations.

Author:

[More to come soon.]

Full article available here.

March 31, 2008 at 3:04 pm Leave a comment

11 Suggestions for (Social) Networking Heaven – 9

9) Name Notification System
When you create your “name” and location, I believe that if another person sets up a profile with the same name and location and other information, that you should be notified. This would help with impersonation and would get people to go ahead and get a myspace or facebook if only to “hold onto” and claim their identity.

Author: Vicki Davis, TechLearning, 7th December 2007

[More to come soon.]

Full article available here.

March 30, 2008 at 10:25 pm Leave a comment

11 Suggestions for (Social) Networking Heaven – 8

8) Ratings system
Now, this may sound a little bit over the edge for some folks, but if someone is a known “spammer,” I don’t want to have to figure it out. If a person has never had a bad “report” of spam is important to me. So, I guess a “satisfaction rating” or something of the sort would be nice like they have on ebay. A non-pest rating? ;-)

While the “rating” of people’s habits might be over the edge, we should at least be able to do it with apps. Right now, the app writers have all of the power. If an app is unethical or has a problem (like Beacon), when I’m asked to install it, it should give me some “customer reviews” and star ratings like Amazon does. (Apps have fans, but not when you’re looking at the add screen.) Then, the best apps rise up and the not so great can be cast off like an old shoe.

Author:

[More to come soon.]

Full article available here.

March 29, 2008 at 1:48 pm Leave a comment

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About

The purpose of this blog is to provide insight into the impact of computer games and pop culture, and effective ways of incorporating the positive surplus into learning experiences.

Please feel free to add comments and email me with any queries. I am also interested in relevant project collaboration.

Name: Alexandra Matthews
Location: UK

Email: info@gamingandlearning.co.uk / alex@gamingandlearning.co.uk

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