January 07, 2008

One click from danger... really?

Panorama Panorama, the BBC's flagship of partisan ill-researched pap, is back tonight with One click from danger, an expose of how every child must be fending off pedophiles with a stick as they surf the net.

Indeed, some do unwise things on the web, and the best piece of advice from the programme comes not from the reporter, the police or a Government task force, but from a pedophile: keep the computer out of the child's bedroom. Advice many a teacher with their own children could do with following.

But rather than spend money giving us one-sided scaremongering stories about how are children will be fried by schools' wifi and molested in their own bedrooms, could the BBC not continue to create top quality education resources that help keep these very same children wise when surfing?

And rather than leaving it to parents, could schools not up the anti this week and start teaching students how to use Bebo and their other favourite tools in situe, in the classroom, rather than leaving them work it out home alone?


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Can I get an AMEN....!

(what's happening with your 'type'? It's all over the place in terms of sizing.)

Hear hear! It's tricky enough to persuade 'the powers that be' that it's OK - and in fact a good idea - for kids to communicate with the outside world via blogs, e-mailing a class link etc, without programmes that cause panic. Not everyone that goes to the zoo gets eaten by a tiger - there are always exceptions but if you take precautionsit probably won't happen.

Bebo's safety videos are class (http://www.bebo.com/Safety.jsp), I agree the BBC would be better spending money on a 'Kid's guide to internet safety' than scaremongering. perhaps through cbbc?

Bebo's safety videos are class (http://www.bebo.com/Safety.jsp), I agree the BBC would be better spending money on a 'Kid's guide to internet safety' than scaremongering. perhaps through cbbc?

'could schools not up the anti this week...?'

No because we can't get on any interesting websites through the Broadband Consortium's military-grade filtering. I've taken to connecting to YouTube through my mobile and bluetooth in class (unlimited data plans are getting cheaper!), although I'll probably get into trouble for that once I'm found out.

'could schools not up the anti this week...?'

No because we can't get on any interesting websites through the Broadband Consortium's military-grade filtering. I've taken to connecting to YouTube through my mobile and bluetooth in class (unlimited data plans are getting cheaper!), although I'll probably get into trouble for that once I'm found out.

I have to totally agree with the other commenter's (thanks for the Bebo link BTW). I only hope the programme is never shown in NZ. Actually I am beginning to think that kids are more at risk 'on the street' than they are online.

If you look at statistics from NSBA and from the Pew Internet Trust, the percentage of students involved in these incidents is very small.

Not that any percentage is acceptable, but it does mean the reporting should be much more balanced to reflect reality. But fear sells....especially about the "unknown" which is what the internet is to many parents.

I guess we'll need to make it equally exciting and fascinating to see students learning!

Tomorrow, 7 p.m.

This is not to negate safe practices for children and teens both on and off line. But balance would be nice, wouldn't it?

Another amen, at home young children should not use computers in bedrooms, parents should not use software solutions (at least without a lot of discussion with child), discussion and trust should go a long way in keeping children safe.
We should probably spend a bit more time thinking about banning cars which kill a lot more children than computers.

You've hit a nerve here! At the very least, what we need is a level playing field - instead we have a ridiculously inconsistent approach to web filtering acros LAs in England - one I work in bans the download of all mp3s. Period. Podcasting is a bit of a challenge! Let's hope that Byron makes at least some useful recommendations that LAs can follow.

Spot on Ewan. Filtering is getting madder. Youtube is now blocked in my LEA, even for staff training at the local community learning centre (all adults!)They've even blocked teachertube. I'm trying to work out how to run an INSET about Web2.0 for professional development when it's likely we won't be able to access anything 2.0 at all. Phones may hold the key... goes off to think..

Just watched this - and I agree with all your comments. Very poor quality scare-mongering with very little practical advice to parents. The program went out of it's way to sensationalise the 'dangers' and avoid mentioning a single educational or even positive use of the internet at all.
How can it claim to be informative when it didn't inform - no mention of the advice given in schools and by sites, no list of websites and schemes such as SMART, no attempt to empower children/users to know how to protect themselves and their computers, no encouragement for parents to even take an interest and learn themselves.
No wonder the LA's are filtering everything except their own sites these days. The implication is that we are all stupid and need protecting from ourselves. So much for being professionals eh?

Again Ewan.....spot on, by demonising with one sided reporting the whole area and then compounding it by blocking access to sites in LEA schools we will probably continue to drive those on the fringes into difficult and compromising areas.... missing totally the chance to actually educate our kids into good online habits.... it's enough to make me despair !!!!!

Have just watched the programme with my 15 year-old son. We had a great conversation about it afterwards, for which I am extremely grateful.

I agree it was one-sided, but if it starts similar conversations around the breakfast table tomorrow morning, then it was worth it.

I think we need to remember where people are on their Web 2.0 journey and use programmes and material like this to help us in the process of change.

I think this level of "speak to their fears" journalism is out of control. Just the other night the BBC were telling us about the "dangers" of energy efficient light bulbs - exactly the same dangers as fluorescent tubes which have been around for ages.
We are becoming a risk averse society but when I look back at my education the teachers I remember are the ones who took risks.
But to flip this on its head - I've just watched Hugh's Chicken Run on C4. A hugely emotive subject presented in a somewhat sensationalist manner but he was putting forward a view to which I'm recpeptive. Does this demonstrate some weakness in my ability to filter the media? Or does it demonstrate that we live a very complex world where not everybody has had the benefit of the education that the vast majority (if not all) of the readers of this blog have had.
I doubt if anybody here could hold their hand up and say they have never been influenced by the media to behave in a particular way. What we should be teaching are the skills to know when this is happening.
So in short - yes it's disgraceful but it's difficult. And we live in an increasingly litigious society. It's easy to understand why councils are reluctant to open up their filtering policies. That's not to say they're right just that it's difficult.
Finally - The curse of a Scottish Liberal Arts education is that you can always see both sides of the argument.

The panorama programme did remind me on more than one occasion of the Brass Eye special and it was disappointing that there was no reporting of the positive outcomes and projects which are happening all the time. But whilst we here are familiar with the web 2.0 environment and all the jargon etc the majority of parents and teachers are fearful of this stuff because they don’t understand it or use it in any way. I suppose as always it comes back to education, for both adults and children. While I personally think most young people are pretty savvy when it comes to dealing with so called ‘stranger danger’ there is still a need, especially for younger children to develop their online skills and to learn about risk assessment. Getting teachers and parents support in this is vital and not really helped by negative reporting .

It's a pity, at this time of great importance for us to educate our pupils about how to use sites such as Bebo,that the funding for Superclubsplus is about to be discontinued in Scotland. It as an excellent and safe way for children to learn about how to use such sites safely. The pipils at my school often tell me that they feel better equipped for using Bebo etc as a result of their Superclubsplus experiences.

The Stay Safe guide on the CBBC site gives advice on what not to do on the web for children age 6-12 year old, the target audience for CBBC.

The Chatguide pages on the Teens site has information aimed at older children and teens.

And for parents, the Parenting Site has a guide for keeping children safe on the web.

It would be interesting to know what users think of these resources.

Gill Davies
Senior Interactive Development Producer, BBC Scotland

Hi there,

You may know this already, but I just got an email from Respect Me (the anti-bullying service funded by the Scottish Government) launching their online support for schools to address cyberbullying as part of their antibullying policies. Details are on the home page of the Respect Me website www.respectme.org.uk. I haven't looked at the information they provide yet, but I thought you'd be interested to know about it in any case.


Hi Ewan,
You have said in your own presentations that one of the key challenges is to spread the culture, recruit ideas. However I worry that maoning about the media whilst also banging on in a way that asks, expects too much of educators is making them them withdraw and this continues to extend the digital divide between the managers that are in post and the opportunities digital technologies offer learners. I am a fan by the way , especially of the way you put out, but not of the way you expect people who are after all responsible for childrens well being and safety to take leaps that are too far. Especially when there are steps they can take which deliver all of the audience , creativity, differentiation etc benefits you have identified

These may not be free, they may not be the same communities you engage in but they are very capable of meeting the challenges you identify and making a positive difference without the emotional concerns or worry in the minds of educators and parents and the real communities of learners they support.

This has after all made iniatitives unsustainable.

Merlin John writes here http://www.futurelab.org.uk/resources/publications_reports_articles/web_articles/Web_Article952

Wouldn't it be better for kids to help more educators start taking some meaningful steps forward that to keep banging on about giant leaps that are too far and fantasy.

kind regards

Below is the future lab link


uhhg try again


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About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

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School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

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