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In Review: Towards a Better Internet for Children?


Below is an excerpt from my review of Toward a Better Internet for Children? Policy Pillars, Players and Paradoxes, which appeared in Vol 40 No. 3 of The Canadian Journal of Communication.

Towards a Better Internet for Children? Policy Pillars, Players and Paradoxes, edited by Brian O’Neill, Elisabeth Staksrud, and Sharon McLaughlin, offers 16 chapters that contribute evidence-based insights into ongoing European policy debates regarding Internet regulation and child online safety. Smartly divided into three complementary parts (policy pillars, players, and paradoxes), the collection provides a timely discussion of the efficacy of current European policy initiatives; the evolving roles of regulators, educators, non-governmental organizations, and parents in implementing Internet safety; and the contradictions that result from efforts to make the Internet safer.

The collection’s 27 contributors are all members of the EU Kids Online network, a research network of 33 countries supported by the European Union’s Safer Internet Programme. The discussions found in the collection are largely based on data from the most current EU Kids Online Project (2009–2011), to date the largest study of its kind monitoring European parents’ and children’s experiences with Internet access, activities, and the risks they encounter online. The project’s research objective is to better inform policy decisions and the formation of future policies that address the need for a safer Internet without compromising important rights to free speech, privacy, and participation. The purpose of the collection, then, is to raise critical debate on policies intended to protect young people while promoting their best interests and empowering them to take full advantage of digital opportunities (p. 12). While the collection is European in scope, its contributions are of significant value to similar international policy debates, not only on Internet safety, but on the value of risk and on the contradictions of child safety efforts more broadly.

Read the whole review

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