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Ordinary magic for the digital age: understanding children's online resilience

Back in 2014, Parent Zone started the debate about digital resilience.

Working with Virgin Media and the Oxford Internet Institute, we commissioned the first study into the subject, A Shared Responsibility: Building Children’s Online Resilience.
The groundbreaking research concluded that digital resilience is not something you can foster by eliminating risk. To become truly resilient, you must be allowed to practise managing and evaluating risky scenarios.
True digital resilience means thriving in a new environment, not just surviving disaster – avoiding harm and recovering from setbacks, but also making the most of the opportunities afforded by technology.
Is the research into digital resilience robust enough to persuade families to ditch the controls and allow their children to explore the online world with greater confidence?

Five years on, we have commissioned Rachel Rosen to revisit this important area to see how things have moved on. Her report, Ordinary Magic for the Digital Age: Understanding Digital Resilience, is the result.

Instinctively, adults who care about children want to protect them from risk and prevent them having bad experiences online. The trouble is that we cannot guarantee a safe internet.
Filters and parental controls offer a partial solution, and few would argue against keeping disturbing content away from young children as they start to explore the online world. But technological and social realities mean filtering can only serve as one, limited part of a strategy to safeguard children.

‘Filtering can only serve as one, limited part of a strategy to safeguard children’

70% of children aged five to 15 have access to a tablet, while 40% of five to 15s and 80% of 12 to 15s have a mobile phone.[1]
It’s becoming more likely that a child’s internet use will happen via one of these portable devices, which means that each child - however diligent their parents have been about filtering and monitoring at home – is only as safe as their least-protected friend. Filtering, monitoring and parental controls might protect a child on their own device, in the safety of their own home, but there’s no guarantee that their experiences with the internet at a friend’s or in the playground will be equally protected. So what is the solution?

‘Let’s all work together to make 2017 the year of digital resilience’

Vicki Shotbolt CEO of Parent Zone and executive board member of the UK Centre for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) is currently co-chairing a government working group into digital resilience. She says:
‘Since publishing A Shared Responsiblity: Building Childen's Online Resilience, others have taken up the challenge to look into this important area.
‘We asked Rachel Rosen to examine the wealth of material that currently exists on digital resilience, sift the wheat from the chaff and look forward to how parents and professionals who work with families can help promote it among our children.
‘Let’s all work together to make 2017 the year of digital resilience.’

You can read, print or download the report here.


[1] Ofcom. (2014). Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes Report.

Image: Parent Zone