Safer cyberspace - why it might remain a pipe dream
|Doing it offline does not mean doing it online|
|Are our campaigns for a more secure cyberspace for our children really succeeding?|
|Unfortunately, when it comes to protecting our children against cyberbullying, pedophiles, sexual exploitation and identity theft we 'experts' may not always be of great help.|
On reflecting further on this issue - here come some ideas that suggest that we need to go back to the basics and NO VIRGINIA - collaboration does not mean applying the same approach across all EU Member States.
6 REASONS WHY A SAFER CYBERSPACE REMAINS A PIPE DREAM FOR our CHILDREN
1) Socio-economic background matters
Depending upon the socio-economic background of school pupils, their knowledge about the Internet differs greatly. For instance, some kids know e-mail and online video games from home when they enter school. Others have yet to get an e-mail address for themselves
Families with several PCs at home and a broadband Internet connection may be more savvy regarding Internet use than those families where parents do not surf themselves or rarely if ever.
2) Technology makes a difference
In some countries, 5 year olds have a mobile phone and exchange pictures and messages beginning with the first day in school. Does this mean they need to cope with similar threats as do kids surfing the Internet? If the principles and concepts are the same, how should they be addressed?
Children may get porno images or videos sent to their cellphones, or be mobbed in a social forum online. In theory, what it takes to protect oneself or to minimize the risks is the same but in practice ..... there is surely a difference.
3) We say we speak to the kids but tend to fail more often than not
Does our message really speak to the kids? Providing visually stunning animated education program that uses entertainment to provide younger children with the fundamental building blocks of better security online is a great first step:
But are these images relevant to a 10 year old forth grader in primary school? And will parents take the time to look at these kind of animated education programs with their youngsters? Do these images really help my child deciding the right thing when being asked to give away her privacy for signing up with Facebook?
Great cartoon but will it help my kid making a wiser decision?
4) Re-inventing the wheel
Many places have begun to focus on cyber security and are going ahead with their campagins ranging from cities (Zurich) to countries (see Bulgaria) below:
All worthwhile efforts but it is unsure if these could not benefit from sharing with others about the insights as well as the tools used. What works and what does not, best practice examples and templates would be helpful.
But more often than not, each community or group starts again from scratch. Possibly not the most effective approach to spread the message and help protect our children better?
5) Bringing it into the classroomWe have addressed this issue extensively here:
Right on this blog called the Safer Internet Day 2008 blogothon, you can find plenty of digital images of pre-teens and teens. Even government agencies seem to be throwing caution to the wind. In turn, how can we demand from our teachers to step in and stop further damage when their 'masters' fail the grade (see how the Danish Media Council needs some help)? See example here Denmark and YouTube:
6) Key Performance Indicator or KPI is missing
Most campaigns or efforts require some benchmarking against no more than 4 KPIs. For instance, if Zurich does have 40 people taken in for questioning regarding pedophile activity and possible sexual exploitation of children. But how many of these cases will be prosecuted and result in a court ruling? As well, does Zurich intend to reduce that number with the help of the campaign or what?
Remember, if the measuring efforts take nearly more time than activities undertaken to improve cyberspace security levels for children, KPI is a non-starter.