Discuss the risks and benefits of children’s Internet use. What can be done to improve online safety?
Children and young people now have easier access to the internet through computers, mobile phones and laptops. Children are taught how to use a computer during their primary education, most educational activities are done using the internet such as homework help and research. Children can also use the internet in their spare time to play games, watch videos and chat to their friends all of which is very beneficial. However there are also many risks when it comes to internet use for instance chatting to strangers from all over the world, the ease of anonymity that child predators take advantage of, indecent images or videos and cyber bullying. A child’s mind can be described as a blank slate and when exposed to inappropriate material on the internet it can cause physiological harm or lead to physical harm by another or self-harm. In today’s child centred society children and their safety is put first. Childhood is the most important stage and it can be destroyed if children are exposed to the wrong information such as sexual messages. (Livingstone et al, 2012:6)
Children can now access the internet in a more privatised way, especially if they own a mobile phone or internet receiving devices which give children more control of when and how they use the internet. “Half of UK children go online via a mobile device - 26% report handheld access to the internet (e.g. iPod Touch, iPhone or Blackberry) and an additional 33% access the internet via their mobile phone.” (Livingstone et al, 2012:7) This statistic shows that 50% of children have access to a mobile or handheld device by which they can use the internet, this could suggest that monitoring has become more difficult for parents due to mobile devices as they are not always aware of what their children do on the internet, monitoring on a home computer is more easier.
Safety measures have already been implemented to improve online safety for children, for example safe search and parental control settings. Also parents discussing internet safety with children and schools raising awareness about dangers of the internet can encourage children to make a more positive use of the internet and protect themselves, however there is still need for further improvement due to recurring incidents. (Children, Risk and safety on the internet, 2012)
The increased use of technology for communication is beneficial as it is easier to access and less time consuming but it carries a number of risks, especially for children. Risks from the internet are global and most societies are affected by internet safety issues. According to Beck (1986) and Giddens (1991) new technology and its increased use lead to uncertainty, hence society focuses on risk assessments for every socio-economic progression that takes place. Online hazards target vulnerable individuals of society to be precise children and young people. (Kalmus, V., &...