best practices, children and the Internet

Okay, so the Rhode Island ACLU isn’t going to take their evidence of overblocking in libraries to the Supreme Court and try an “as applied” challenge. Scott from Information Overlord discusses the ACLU findings and also talks about some conclusions of a two year study done in the UK about kids & the online world. Called UK Children Go Online the report has many recommendations for people who are involved with children and/or their Internet access. One of the more interesting stats from a library perspective is that a very small percentage of kids and teens surveyed even use the Internet access in libraries.

Most users accessed the internet from home (89%) but also at work (28%), school or college (13%), a friend’s house (10%), via mobile access (6%), at libraries (5%) and internet cafés (3%).

More often than not, if a child is accessing the Internet elsewhere, according to another part of this survey, it’s at another child’s house. Add to this the gap in understanding between parents and children [or any adults and children, librarians and children perhaps?] and you have a complicated situation where erratic enforcement does nothing to solve the real problems.

This research has consistently identified gaps in understanding between parents and children – in internet expertise, in awareness of risks encountered and in acknowledgement of domestic regulation implemented. These findings suggest a rather low level of understanding between parents and children, impeding an effective regulation of children’s internet use within the home. It would be impractical to hope for complete understanding between parents and children, of course, but it is important not only to seek ways of closing the gap where possible but also to recognise the existence of the gap insofar as it persists – in designing research, safety guidance and other policy initiatives.

One of the major conclusions of this study is that policy makers must “mind the gap” between younger and older users when they think about how to best serve younger users.

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