The Walled Garden of Internet security
Im currently engrossed in an online Open University course on Childhood in the Digital Age and its stimulating some interesting thoughts.
Internet safety is a huge issue for all of us who have children and who look after children, particularly pre-teens and teenagers. I am interested in the comparison consequently of exposing children to risk on the internet and exposing children to risk in the physical world. One of the experts compares internet security to a walled garden where children are able to play in absolute safety. They are protected from harm but as a consequence they are not being exposed to the wider virtual world, to its dangers but also to the huge learning potential it provides.
As parents and professionals involved in the care of children we want to give our children the opportunities to develop into strong, healthy and capable adults who are able to manage their own lives, to balance risk with opportunity and experience. Perhaps we should be looking at how we can give our children the right grounding in the virtual world that we are trying to give them in the physical world. In the same way as we are trying to promote the benefits provided by outdoor play and the skills it allows our children to develop, should we stop being so scared of the internet and instead embrace it for the enormous learning opportunities and experiences it allows? Should we be be allowing our children to explore the virtual world, see and use it to its full potential, helping them to understand the limitations and dangers and, yes, still trying to keeping them safe but safe as necessary not safe as possible?