Monday, 7 April 2008

The Byron Review

Well done to all those who successfully identified the lady below as Dr Tanya Byron, author of the recently published Byron Review. Having given out so many points I am now virtually bankrupt!

Byron was asked by UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown to report on the potential dangers to children in using the internet and playing video or console games. Her report makes fascinating reading and is available in a number of formats. The executive summary is certainly something that parents should note. All pupils from P3 to Y7 will be receiving their own copy of the summary specifically written for young people.

Some of her advice on safe use of the internet is copied below;

10. The internet is a vast many-to-many network which allows users to communicate freely with others all over the world – ideas can be spread quickly, cheaply and freely. One consequence of this is that there is no obvious single point at which editorial control can be exercised. This means that it is very difficult for national Governments to reduce the
availability of harmful and inappropriate material. However, the majority of material accessed by internet users is hosted on a relatively small number of highly popular sites,the rest of it occupying a ‘long tail’ of less popular material. This means that we should focus our efforts on reducing the availability of harmful and inappropriate material in the most popular part of the internet.

11. Parents also have a key role to play in managing children’s access to such material. There is a range of technical tools that can help parents do this (eg. safe search), but they only work effectively if users understand them. So restricting children’s access to harmful and
inappropriate material is not just a question of what industry can do to protect children(e.g. by developing better parental control software), but also of what parents can do to protect children (e.g. by setting up parental control software properly) and what children can do to protect themselves (e.g. by not giving out their contact details online).

12. Just like in the offline world, no amount of effort to reduce potential risks to children will eliminate those risks completely. We cannot make the internet completely safe. Because of this, we must also build children’s resilience to the material to which they may be exposed
so that they have the confidence and skills to navigate these new media waters more safely.

Another key element concerns empowerment of our students, and Byron states;

Children and young people need to be empowered to keep themselves safe – this isn’t just about a top-down approach. Children will be children – pushing boundaries and taking risks. At a public swimming pool we have gates, put up signs, have lifeguards and shallow ends, but we also teach children how to swim.

There's certainly a lot more to digest from this significant report and more will follow.

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