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

With Sonia Livingstone
4 Apr 2011
With Sonia Livingstone

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. It offers critical analysis and new findings, drawing on the EU Kids Online project, a major study of children’s Internet use in 25 countries. Building on the distinction between risk (a calculation based on probability and the likely consequences of harm), and harm (a distinct outcome, whether measured objectively or subjectively), it will be argued that the field of children’s online risk faces particular problems in measuring harm and, therefore, risk. Further complications arise from the interdependencies among opportunity, risk-taking, resilience and vulnerability. It is concluded that such complexities must be recognised if academic and policy circles are to advance beyond some of the entrenched positions that thus far have polarised debate.



Sonia Livingstone

Professor of Social Psychology, Department of Media and Communications, London School of Economics and Political Science