It’s easy to access the full Byron reviews online, but here’s a bit that I’ve found particularly helpful in framing my thinking:
We are a society preoccupied with parenting. Information and advice for parents exists in many forms and across all media. Most parents want to parent their children as well as they can and will take active steps to seek out approaches to enable them to do the best they can for their children. They want to give their children the best start in life by ensuring that they are healthy, happy, cared for and educated. For parents an area of great concern is around harm coming to their child. Indeed such parental anxieties can be fuelled by news stories that contain graphic details about children being abducted, harmed or killed. Some commentators have speculated that increasing parental anxieties are significant factors in the way restrictions are placed on children’s freedoms – for example, in the way children’s play has been significantly curtailed by parents who fear letting them outside. We are creating a parenting atmosphere where there is a ‘zero risk’ policy (Gill, 2007). The safety of children should be a central concern for parents and society as a whole. However, our concerns, and our response to those concerns, must be proportionate. It is difficult enough to keep a balanced perspective on the safety of a child in the ‘real world’ – the offline space – but at least here, parents are familiar with the risks and can use their own experience to help their children learn to identify, assess and manage those risks. When it comes to understanding the digital worlds that their children inhabit many adults feel out of their depth and so either don’t engage or become so anxious that they over- control their child’s behaviour.
Parenting a child is a difficult task and is fuelled by emotion that can sometimes result in ?a less than rational approach to dealing with difficult situations. This task becomes even more difficult when we are facing situations that we feel we don’t understand and worse, our children know better than us. In order to feel effective as parents in the digital world we need to be supported and empowered to learn about our children’s experiences and make judgements about how we want to protect them from possible digital risks. We need to also think, as a society, about those children who are even more vulnerable because they do not have adults concerned about their welfare to guide them through these new media waters.