Andrew Keen on New Media: Telling children what to do is not the best way to protect them

Let me be unfashionably authoritative and award grades for the Byron Review’s Safer Children in a Digital World report. It gets an A+ for its schmooze, an A- for its wisdom about video gaming, a B+/C- on its understanding of the internet and a D for its inappropriate title.The 200-page Government-commissioned report, the UK’s first national strategy document on child safety in the digital age, certainly excels in complimenting every constituency of the new media universe.

There don’t seem to be any real bad guys in the report – not even YouTube, with its uncensored videos of gang rapes. No wonder the report has been such a marketing hit, getting the enthusiastic thumbs up both from prudish Gordon Brown and from more relaxed authors of violent video games.In spite of its happy-talk, the report does grapple with the changing balance of power between children and adults in today’s digital media world. Byron’s heart is certainly in the right place. Her emphasis on personal responsibility for parents isn’t wrong – even if it appears to me, as a parent of a technology-infatuated pre-adolescent, to be the most self-evident common sense.

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