Risk and the digital world

Jean Underwood explores the perceptions and realities of online risk

WE LIVE IN AN INCREASINGLY RISK AVERSE society, and this is particularly true in relation to the protection of children and young people. However, opinion is divided over risk versus the benefits some “risky” activities can bring. For example, due to perceived risk, and a number of high profile accidents, school children have fewer opportunities for outdoor pursuits despite the value these experiences offer individuals. One consequence of societal risk-aversion is the increased time young people spend in the digital world, but ironically this in itself has led to risks.

What we know
● The digital world is the norm for pupils, and is an important way of defining and expressing their identity.
● Individuals are most at risk in secondary school, when technology takes centre stage and puberty strikes.
● Educative programmes encouraging safer behaviours are essential.

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October 2010