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Facebook confessions March 26, 2010

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Children, Facebook, Internet Safety.

I am part of the advisory board for Cyberhus, a free, non-profit online counselling site for children and young people in Denmark. Cyberhus does a great job teaching children and young people about safe online behaviour. Recently, they have created a number of ‘Facebook confessions’ on YouTube based on different experiences from children and young people. Here is one where ‘Kristoffer’ (who is not yet 13) discusses being too young for Facebook (in Danish):

I think the videos are great for fostering discussions at home or in school. Check out other videos from Cyberhus’ YouTube page or become a fan on Facebook.

Think B4 U post! Happy Safer Internet Day 2010 February 9, 2010

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Internet Safety, Safer Internet Day, Social network sites.

Today,  Safer Internet Day 2010 is celebrated in more than 30 countries all over the world. This year’s topic is “Think B4 U post!” focusing on making children and young people aware that they can be in control of their online identity.

Follow the hashtag #SID10 on Twitter.

Danish youngsters teach The Minister for Education about internet and ICT in school September 1, 2009

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Internet, Internet Safety, School, Youngsters.
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The Danish Media Council for Children and Young People has set up a youth panel called “Medierødderne” consisting of a group of children and young people between the age of 10 and 15. During the summer they have been working on compiling a list of ideas and guidelines for better ICT and internet usage in school. In June they presented their ideas for the Danish Minister of Education.

I have picked out a couple of their recommendations (translated from Danish):

1. Let students teach each other about the internet, and have children share their good and bad experiences with each other, their parents and teachers.

2. All teachers must attend a course in internet and computer skills, and they should include the internet in their teaching more often.

5. If a school creates filters on their computers, the students should be informed why.

9. Schools should set up a rule that prevents teachers from ‘friending’ students on Facebook – and vice versa.

See the complete list of recommendations here.

The panel is one out of many European youth panels within the Insafe network.

New facts about online predators May 8, 2009

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Internet Safety, Survey.

I recently read an article from Switched reporting on a new study from University of New Hampshire’s Crimes Against Children Research Center. The study deals with data collected from an sample of American law enforcement agencies about crimes by online sex predators during two 12-month periods, in respectively 2000 and 2006.

Here are some of their conclusions based on the study:

  • Arrests of online predators in 2006 constituted about 1 percent of all arrests for sex crimes committed against children and youth.
  • Arrests of online predators increased between 2000 and 2006. Most arrests and the majority of the increase involved offenders who solicited undercover investigators, not actual youth.
  • The internet is not more dangerous than other environments that children and adolescents frequent.
  • Social networking sites are not necessarily dangerous environments (predators are more likely to use online chat rather than SNSs to initiate contact to possible victims).

Read more about the study and the measurements here.

Be aware that the numbers represented may not reflect the full number of crimes committed by online predators, as “many sex crimes against minors never come to the attention of law enforcement”. However, it is safe to say that children are still “most likely to be exploited by acquaintances and family members, rather than strangers on the Internet”, as pointed out in the article from Switched.

Three kinds of online safety May 6, 2009

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Internet Safety, Talks, Youth.

During the past few weeks I have been giving a couple of public talks at different conferences in Denmark, all focusing on youth and digital media. Even though my talks usually don’t include many perspectives on online safety and focus more on communicating my research results and giving a general introduction to how Danish youth use social network sites, I know that many of the participants (often teachers, social educators, parents, librarians etc.) are interested in knowing how to teach kids about safety issues.

In this regard I recently read an interesting post from the NetFamilyNews blog. Here, Anne Collier offers three perspectives on online safety and internet literacy:

  • Physical safety – the one we have focused on the most, freedom from physical harm by predators and bullies
  • Psychological safety – freedom from cruelty, flaming, and other forms of harassment and cyberbullying involving ex-friends, mean kids, bullies, colleagues, etc. […]
  • Reputational and legal safety – these can overlap with the psychological kind, where, for example, online defamation can harm someone’s reputation; they provide for freedom from restriction or repercussion as a result of online communication or production by one’s self or others […].

She argues that US kids “have practically tuned out the term online safety” because of a strong focus in US society on the first perspective. The term “can’t really help them deal with the complexities of their online/offline social lives, it’s in danger of becoming irrelevant to them”, she writes. I agree very much with Collier and her point is quite similar to what I was trying to argue in this article on Nettendenser in December. I think it is important to focus not only on the threats and risks (and thereby treating children and young people as victims) in order to get them to listen to advice on online safety.

Read the post from NetFamilyNews here (which also includes many relevant links) .

New debate book: The Open Diary November 12, 2008

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Internet, Internet Safety, Privacy, Youngsters.

bookAbout a year ago I gave an interview about Danish youngsters’ activities on Arto for a debate book dealing with online social networking and young people’s online behaviour. The book is out now with the title “The Open Diary” (in Danish “Den Åbne Dagbog”). It is written by two journalists (Lonni Park Lynge and Rene Pedersen) and is meant as a debate book to be used in school and at home. It encompasses a number of case stories with young people and interviews with experts.

The book addresses different issues of privacy online and the goal is to facilitate a debate about what is cool and what is not cool to put online.

Read more about the book here (in Danish).

Online predators and moral panics June 11, 2008

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Arto, Internet Safety, Moral panic, MySpace, News media.

The past couple of weeks the Danish social network site for teenagers, Arto, has repeatedly appeared in the news media. This is due to the fact that a journalist from the Danish tabloid newspaper Ekstra Bladet created a false profile on Arto where she pretended to be a 13 year old girl and got into contact with a number of older men. During a year the undercover journalist communicated through MSN Messenger with four older men (from the age of 35 – 72) who all had a keen interest in meeting the girl IRL. The correspondence between the men and the apparent 13 year old girl had many sexual undertones and some of the men openly indicated that they wanted to have sex with, what they believed was, the 13 year old girl.

When the physical meetings were finally arranged the news paper revealed the truth and the following days they published a number of articles where they – one by one and with video documentation – exposed the men as predators and child molesters.

We have previously seen similar stories in the Danish news media, and the purpose of this blog post is not to comment on these specific news stories, which are part of the ongoing moral panic, which I commented on in an article I wrote in October 2006. However, the public debate that follows sensational cases like these is interesting. (more…)

Go online with your kids May 19, 2008

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Internet Safety, Social Networking, Survey, Youth Culture.
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This weekend the Danish newspaper Berlingske Tidende published an article about children and young people’s use of social network sites and how much knowledge parents have about their children’s online activities. The article is based on the survey I have conducted together with with The Danish Media Council for Children and Young People. It uses some empirical examples from our study and the overall message is that parents should go online with their kids.

You can read the article here (unfortunately only in Danish). I like the cartoon that goes along with the article 😀

How to communicate to youngsters about Internet safety March 22, 2008

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Children, Internet Safety, Youth.

hjarnees.jpgThe Danish Media Council for Children and Young People has launched a new campaign about Internet safety aimed at children and young people. The campaign features a fictional character, the 32-year old Hjarness, who has profiles on many different social network sites and uploads pictures, videos and all kinds of personal information about himself (and his friends) on the Internet.

Hjarness has a YouTube profile, an Arto profile, a WordPress blog and his very own homepage. He has also written an article about Internet safety for the online magazine Artomania.

I think this is a really interesting way of communicating to youngsters about Internet safety. Among other things, Hjarnees advises children and young people to put their full name, address, phone number and e-mail address online and to upload embarrassing photos and videos of their friends. There is no finger-wagging here, and the young people seem to really get the point and find Hjarnees really funny.

The campaign is targeted 13-16-year olds and the message is “Life online is what YOU make of IT”. Read more about it here.

Live TV from Safer Internet Day February 11, 2008

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Internet Safety, Safer Internet Day.
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safer-internet-day-2008-banner.gifTomorrow at Safer Internet Day the social network site Netstationen will be covering the event from their online TV channel.

See Netstationen’s online tv channel here – live tomorrow between 12.00 -15.00.