This seminar opens a series of Brussels based seminars organized by the OII with the support of Google. Bill Dutton, Katia Segers and Leen Haenens will consider countervailing trends concerning the Internet in Britain and children in the Web 2.0 world.

This seminar opens a series of Brussels based seminars organized by the Oxford Internet Institute with the support of Google, which has provided its office in Brussels as a venue to help stimulate and inform debate about the future of the Internet and the issues of policy and practice that are raised. This first seminar will feature two short talks, each followed by questions from the floor on the data and issues raised by the speakers.

Beyond a Tipping Point for the Internet and Policy: New Challenges Facing the World Wide Network of Networks

William Dutton

This talk will focus on two countervailing trends concerning the Internet in Britain, the rest of Europe and worldwide, drawing on the Oxford Internet Surveys (OxIS) in the UK and the World Internet Project (WIP). On the one hand, digital divides persist as the diffusion of the Internet has slowed in many nations. On the other hand, the Internet continues to be a locus of innovation as it moves to faster speeds and greater wireless mobility, both of which have provided a platform for creative, bottom-up innovations in use and application, such as user-generated content, video, social networking, and micro-blogging. The constant reinvention of the Internet is making it more central, and even essential, for an increasing number of users. However, having reached a tipping point in its centrality, the Internet is becoming a target for government and regulators, that seek to fit the Internet into their different national regulatory regimes, industry strategies, and domestic cultures. Many initiatives are aimed at critical issues, such as diminishing divides, but might not achieve their intended objectives and pose real risks in undermining the very qualities of the Internet that have made it a global network of networks.

EU Kids Online: Children in the Web 2.0 World

Professor Katia Segers and Professor Leen d’Haenens

This presentation will briefly sketch the overall aims and current status of the data collection of an on-going European-wide research project on the various internet uses by children (9-16 year-olds), as a follow-up of a previous project mapping past research on the matter.

Both parts of this research are labeled under the umbrella ‘EU Kids Online.’ Based on the same questionnaires administered at children’s homes in 25 countries, the second part of the research, still in its set-up and early data collection phase, aims at identifying a set of online content, conduct, and contact risks and opportunities that children experience.

One of the results will be a cross-national comparison of key trends of Internet use by children and their parents, and a close examination of the growing impact of web 2.0 applications. This research argues that parents, industry and government have a shared responsibility in securing online safety of children, and proposes a framework for action by each of these actors based on the principle of ‘multi-stakeholder governance.’

Given the different patterns of use across Europe and the clear correlation between Internet use and risk experience – low use countries showing low risk profiles, high use countries displaying high risks, and ‘new’ EU countries with ‘new’ risks – as one of the outcomes of the first part of the research, it is suggested that there is no one-size-fits-all ‘pan-European’ strategy.