Child Protection

Work and activities by OII faculty and associates on issues surrounding online child safety and protection.

Contact:

Dr Victoria Nash

Tel: +44 (0)1865 287231

Email: victoria.nash@oii.ox.ac.uk

Overview

Almost since its inception, the OII has engaged in some of the most significant policy debates around child protection and the Internet. Starting from the fundamental belief that the Internet offers children and young people unique opportunities for education and the development of key social, motor and media literacy skills, much of our work has focused on supporting the development of proportionate and effective policy responses to recognized risks of Internet use. One of the OII's earliest policy reports, presented at the European Commission, identified regulatory options for controlling risks posed by 3G mobile phones, whilst a current project seeks to inform policy too often driven by media headlines by exploring evidence of actual harms resulting to children and minors as a result of Internet use. We have also sought to capitalise on the OII's status as a neutral and independent forum for debate, bringing together key policy players to discuss issues such as the recommendations of the Byron Report, or the challenge of balancing and protecting different human rights in the child protection context. In each case, our activities have been driven by a desire to inform and support evidence-based policy-making in this vital area.

Evidence on the extent of harms experienced by children as a result of online risks: A critical synthesis of research

The quantity and quality of academic literature detailing the risks and opportunities of online activity for children and young people has risen substantially in the past ten years. Whilst this has done much to increase our understanding of what children of different ages do online, what risks they face and also what strategies are employed by parents and educators to minimize risk, there is still relatively little empirical evidence on the links between perceived risks and actual harms, or the efficacy of different interventions. This project undertakes a critical synthesis of the evidence to date from across social and medical sciences and including data from professional as well as academic sources. In reviewing the available research and data, we hope to make three different assessments:

  • The scope of the actual harms experienced by children and young people as a result of their online activity (e.g. psychological, physical, social, economic).

  • The scale of the actual harms experienced by children and young people as a result of their online activity and the frequency of their occurrence.

  • The efficacy of existing interventions in limiting either children's exposure to the risks associated with these harms, or even in limiting the harms themselves.

Project outputs will include a summary report for policy and practitioner communities as well as more conventional academic journal articles. This work is supported by the Oxford University Press's Fell Fund (Decmber 2011-June 2012).

Child Protection, Free Speech and the Internet: Mapping the Territory and Limitations of Common Ground

In 2009, the OII was awarded a grant by the Oak Foundation (Principal Investigator, Victoria Nash) to facilitate a dialogue between child advocacy NGOs concerned with children's and young people's use of the Internet and related digital technologies, and NGOs who work or campaign to protect free speech and free expression on the internet and related digital technologies. Advocates of online child protection and freedom of expression both share a deep-seated belief in the vital importance of protecting basic human rights which are grounded in fundamental values of human autonomy and dignity. Yet a shared belief by both camps in the importance of state protection of these core human freedoms is often clouded by perceived (and real) opposition in the actual practice of law, policy and regulation. This has consequently restricted the policy options available for dealing with threats to both child safety and free speech online, and has often resulted in non-governmental organisations representing these interests being portrayed as necessary opponents. In practice this has meant that proponents of both child safety online and freedom of speech have found their efforts to promote basic human rights through self-regulatory, regulatory and policy frameworks have been hindered at local, national and international levels.

The grant enabled us to hold two policy forums, in 2009 (Child Protection, Free Speech and the Internet: Mapping the Territory and Limitations of Common Ground) and 2011 (Child Protection, Free Speech and the Internet), bringing together high-level members of representative NGOs to discuss both familiar and newly-emerging policy issues with a view to promoting a better understanding of the different groups' positions and sharing perspectives and information. Both forums were successful in developing new relationships of trust between participants from the different groups, enhancing understanding of both areas of consensus and disagreement, and facilitating frank discussion on difficult policy concerns. We hope to continue with this model of engagement in the future.

Support

This work has been supported by the Oak Foundation and Oxford University Press's Fell Fund.

Sponsors

People

Researchers

Publications

Articles

Chapters

  • Ahlert, C., Nash, V. and Marsden, C. (2005) Implications of the Mobile Internet for the Protection of Minors. L'ICT Trasforma la Societa. Milan: Forum per la Tecnologia della Informazione.

Conference papers

Presentations

Reports

Working papers

Webcasts

  • Online Risk and Harm in Childhood: A Critical Analysis and New Findings

    Online Risk and Harm in Childhood: A Critical Analysis and New Findings

    Recorded on: 4 April 2011 Duration: 00:45:25

    After a decade or more in which research has examined the opportunities and risks encountered by children on the Internet, this lecture assesses the achievements and challenges of evidence-based policy in a hotly contested field.

  • Beyond Byron: Towards a New Culture of Responsibility

    Beyond Byron: Towards a New Culture of Responsibility

    Recorded on: 8 June 2008 Duration: 01:00:47

    What new dangers are there for children being brought up in the digital age? Child psychologist Dr Tanya Byron reacts to the launch of the Byron Review and the feedback she has received since.

  • Young people's take-up of opportunities to act and interact on the Internet

    Young people's take-up of opportunities to act and interact on the Internet

    Recorded on: 11 October 2005 Duration: 00:42:13

    Discussion of key issues of children's Internet use identified by survey research. Interviews with children and parents provide high quality data to address major controversies surrounding the opportunities and risks of Internet use by children.

News

  • The Chris Evans Show

    18 June 2013 BBC R2

    Victoria Nash commented in a news item on the popular morning show which looked at government plans to ask Internet companies to do more to block harmful online content. [c.33:12 on the clock] (also on seven BBC local radio outlets)

  • iPad: Tech Toy of Choice for children Poses Big Challenges

    29 November 2011 Wall Street Cheat sheet

    As increasing numbers of children have access to an iPad, companies are responding by developing software specifically designed to appeal to children. Victoria Nash comments on welfare concerns about children online.

  • 1iPad luxury, 2iPads necessity for many families

    29 November 2011 Arabian Gazette

    As increasing numbers of children have access to an iPad, companies are responding by developing software specifically designed to appeal to children. Victoria Nash comments on welfare concerns about children online.

  • IPad-Crazed Toddlers Spur Holiday Sales

    28 November 2011 Bloomberg

    As increasing numbers of children have access to an iPad, companies are responding by developing software specifically designed to appeal to children. Victoria Nash comments on welfare concerns about children online.

  • Child Protection and Freedom of Speech Online: Mapping the Territory

    1 March 2010 Oxford Internet Institute

    Report available for OII Discussion Forum 'Child Protection and Freedom of Speech Online', aimed at finding common ground between advocates of both sides.

  • Dr Tanya Byron to give Oxford Lecture for FOSI

    9 June 2008 Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) / Oxford Internet Institute

    FOSI is partnering with the OII to host a lecture by Dr Tanya Byron and run the second in its international programme of roundtable discussions around her recent Review, Safer Children in a Digital World, the Report of the Byron Review

  • Safety fears over new register of all children

    27 August 2007 Times Online

    'Ian Brown, a computer security research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, said that the scale of the database posed huge risks'

  • 2004 Action plan agreed by the European Internet Coregulation Network (EICN)

    2 April 2004 European Internet Coregulation Network

    Policy statement on child protection to the European institutions, and launch of launch of two working groups: child protection and mocbile phone; and Internet governance, in the perspective of the WSIS

Blog

  • Can apps play by COPPA’s rules?

    Monica Bulger on 18 Sep 2014 01:37AM

    Increasingly, children are accessing mobile applications via cell phones and tablets at younger ages. Recent Pew Internet studies find that 68% of children aged 12-13 own a cell phone and 71% access the Internet via a mobile device (phone, tablet, or [...]

  • TMZ publishes celebrity child abuse images — is there any line TMZ won’t cross?

    Monica Bulger on 13 Sep 2014 04:52AM

    In coverage of Adrian Peterson’s alleged abuse of his 4 year old child, TMZ has crossed the line by posting close-up images of the child victim in his underwear. A website known for its sensationalism has gone too far, exposing an already victimized [...]

  • Child protection study underway

    Monica Bulger on 25 Apr 2012 13:17PM

    Vicki Nash and I were successful in our bid to the Fell Fund to examine how risk and harm are used in literature addressing children’s use of the Internet. Vera Slavtcheva-Petkova, a recent graduate of Loughborough University, joined us in December [...]