Everything I know about protecting children I learned from a visit to Nairobi National Park

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ConnectSafely.org co-director Larry Magid's presentation at the child protection panel at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Nairobi, Kenya. September 30, 2011

ConnectSafely.org co-director Larry Magid's presentation at the child protection panel at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Nairobi, Kenya. September 30, 2011

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  • ONLINE SAFETY CAN’T BE ONE-SIZE FITS ALL FOR MANY REASONS.... because the Web is huge and diverse and its use is highly individual, just as people’s lives are.. ...but also because there are many types of safety or well-being online and offline. In fact, online wellbeing, set in the context of what it’s FOR – full, constructive engagement in participatory culture & democracy – is more appropriately considered in terms of rights and freedoms: SO HERE ARE THE FORMS OF SAFETY WE ALL DESERVE:Physical is essential but not the all of it (playground metaphor).Psychological – we want them to have this freedom online just as much as we’ve always sought it for them offline, and their behavior is a factor in their well-being. Reputational and legal – we have a lot of work to do to develop awareness in this area, since users themselves are key to maintaining this freedom for themselves.Identity, property, and community – imposter profiles are a big one; we need to teach youth not only to protect their privacy & property but also their identity (first and foremost by protecting their passwords and not falling prey to manipulation, social engineering - like phishing scams).
  • Putting up a fence might keep a kid away from a specific swimming pool but teaching them to swim protects them around all water and helps them enjoy the water as well.
  • From 1990 to 2005 – the period of time that the Web was born and grew most rapidly – there was a 51% decline in overall child sexual – the chart’s showing that: out of every 10,000 US minors, 23 were abused, with that no. going down to 11 in 2005.UPDATE: 58% decline thru 2008, latest figure available (reported by CCRC here “Updated Trends in Child Maltreatment, 2008” <http://www.unh.edu/ccrc/pdf/CV203_Updated%20Trends%20in%20Child%20Maltreatment%202008_8-6-10.pdf>)NCANDS = National Data Archives on Child Abuse & Neglect


  • 1. Everything I know about protecting children I learned from a visit to Nairobi National Park
    Larry Magid
    Photos taken by Larry Magid in Nairobi Nat’l Park on Sept 24, 2011
  • 2. Some children need to be rescued or protected
  • 3. But all children …
  • 4. Need to be nurtured
  • 5. Encouraged to nurture themselves
  • 6. To present themselves properly
  • 7. Pay attention to what’s around them
  • 8. Get support from peers
  • 9. To stand tall
  • 10. And allowed to be free
  • 11. We are in the midst of a global information & social revolution, led by youth
  • 12. Of course there are risks in life, so…
  • 13. Who can best protect youth?
    Law enforcement?
  • 14. Or young people themselves?
  • 15. 4 Types of Online Safety
    Physical safety – freedom from physical harm
    Psychological safety – freedom from cruelty, harassment, and exposure to potentially disturbing material
    Reputational and legal safety – freedom from unwanted social, academic, professional, and legal consequences that could affect you for a lifetime
    Identity, property, and community safety – freedom from theft of identity & property
    Items 1 through 3 are from Anne Collier’s NetFamilyNews
  • 16. The ‘Net effect’
    For the most part,the online world is pretty much like the “real world,” but there are a few special things to think about
    It can be permanent
    Material can be copied and pasted
    Lots of people can see it
    You don’t know for sure who’s seeing it
    Disinhibition: Lack of visual cues reducesempathy
    Source: adapted from danahboyd: Taken out of Context, 2008
  • 17. Elements of Online Safety 3.0
    Make Net safety relevant to youth in the context of how they use social media, learn, and live their lives.
    View youth as participants and stakeholders in positive Internet use rather than potential victims, and empower them to protect themselves.
    Promote good citizenship
    Teach new media literacy
    Understand the value of informal learning
    Be accurate and honest about risks
    Encourage industry to engage in best practices, including promoting good citizenship in the communities they run
  • 18. Fences have their place but …
    To keep kids safe around all water, we teach kids to swim
  • 19. Ultimately, the best filter runs between the child’s ears, not on a device
    Protection that lasts a lifetime
    Training wheels for young kids
  • 20. Putting risks into perspective
    • There is a difference between risk and harm
    • 21. Fear messaging & exaggerating risk can backfire
    • 22. Fear paralyzes & can lead to irrational decisions
    Illustration: CustumeHum.com (Creative Commons License)
  • 23. Building resilience through digital skills
    Encouraging children to do more online will improve their digital skill set.
    Teaching safety skills is likely to improve other skills, while teaching instrumental and informational skills will also improve safety skills.
    Inequalities in digital skills persist – in terms of SES, age and, to a lesser degree, gender. So efforts to overcome these are needed.
    Low skills among younger children are a priority for teachers and parents, as ever younger children go online
  • 24. Predator panic
    • A few years ago the American media was infatuated by the grave risk to children online
    • 25. But the risk was highly exaggerated
    • 26. Media and politicians confused “unwanted sexual solicitation” with predation
    Illustration: CustumeHum.com (Creative Commons License)
  • 27. The rise of the web in the U.S. has not resulted in increased victimization of children
    51% Decline (during the period of the Web’s existence)
    Blue line represents 58% decline in child sex abuse from 1992 to 2008
    Source: Updated Trends in Child Maltreatment, 2008: Finkelhor, Jones and Shattuck: Crimes Against Children Research Center
  • 28. Moving right along
    The Internet Safety Technical Task Force found that:
    “Bullying and harassment, most often by peers, are the most salient threats that minors face, both online and offline.” 
    Which naturally leads to ….
  • 29. Cyberbullying Panic!
    “85% of 12 and 13 year-olds have had experience with cyberbullying,” according to one claim
  • 30. Most children are neither victims nor monsters
    • Not every interaction that makes kids uncomfortable is bullying
    • 31. While some are very vulnerable, most children are reasonably resilient.
    • 32. Across Europe, 6% of 9 to 16-year-old internet users have been bullied online. 3% confess to having bullied others. *
    • 33. Far more have been bullied offline, with 19 per cent saying they have been bullied at all – and 12 per cent have bullied someone else*
    * EU Kids Online
  • 34. How you treat others affects your risk
    “Among those who do not bully others, being bullied is relatively rare
    8% offline only, and 4% online”*
    “Youth who engage in online aggressive behavior by making rude or nasty comments or frequently embarrassing others are more than twice as likely to report online interpersonal victimization.” +
    * EU Kids Online +Internet Safety Technology Taskforce
  • 35. Social norms approach
    • People emulate how they think their peers behave
    • 36. If people think their friends don’t smoke, they’re less likely to smoke.
    • 37. Same is true with over-eating, excessive alcohol use and other negative behaviors, including bullying*
    *Assessing Bullying in New Jersey Secondary Schools: Applying the Social Norms Model to Adolescent Violence: Craig, Perkins 2008
  • 38. Example of positive norming
    Source: Assessing Bullying in New Jersey Secondary Schools: Applying the Social Norms Model to Adolescent Violence: Craig, Perkins 2008
  • 39. The End
  • 40. Thank you!
    Larry Magid