You are here

Parent Zone and the rise of digital resilience

Parent Zone started the debate about digital resilience back in 2014, and the term has now become more widely used. Parent Zone writer Marjun Ziarati looks at how it started and where we are now 

At Parent Zone we believe that allowing children to take risks and develop strategies in the online world, just as they would in the offline world, is key in building young people’s resilience.

True digital resilience means thriving in an online environment, avoiding harm and recovering from setbacks, while making the most of the opportunities technology can bring.

Our CEO, Vicki Shotbolt, co-chairs the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) working group in digital resilience. Here is the UKCCIS definition of digital resilience: 



Back to where it all began

In 2014 we worked with the Oxford Internet Institute and Virgin Media to examine online resilience. The result of that collaboration was A Shared Responsibility: Building Children's Online Resilience.

This research explored how children and young people can be encouraged to become resilient users of the internet, and acquire the tools to be able to act positively when meeting challenges in the online world.

In our end of year review for 2016, we predicted that the conversation around protecting children and young people online would move on from talking about controls, blocking and filters and promote digital resilience instead. We continued with our mission to promote digital resilience, dubbing 2017 as the year of digital resilience. Take a look at our highlights of 2017 here.


Delving deeper

Early last year we commissioned Rachel Rosen to revisit digital resilience to see how things had moved on since the 2014 research. Her report, Ordinary Magic for the Digital Age: Understanding Digital Resilience, was the result. This report highlighted the need for a holistic look at digital resilience and mentions three key approaches to resilience-promoting interventions. The first focuses on reducing and preventing risks, by using technical tools and filters for example. The second emphasises resources that enable children’s resilience and positive outcomes, such as adequate online safety education. And the final approach involves positive and supportive family relationships to foster young people's resilience.


Setting the agenda in digital resilience 

In October 2017 we held our first joint conference with CEOP, the child protection command of the National Crime Agency. Digital Families 2017 kicked off with a welcome speech from Parent Zone CEO, Vicki Shotbolt and CEOP head of education Marie Smith. They introduced digital resilience as the main theme underpinning the conference. We had a line-up of expert speakers and the day was divided into different sections to discuss existing research and how we can move forward to collectively build a young person’s digital resilience. You can read more details of the day here.


Teaching digital resilience 

Acknowledging the importance of promoting digital resilience, we introduced a Digital Resilience membership offering resources for parents as well as training for those working with young people in order to help them build digital resilience among young people and families. We also designed a Digital Resilience curriculum for our Digital Schools members with teaching resources and support to help pupils develop the skills they need.


So, what's next?

‘We know that children who are resilient are more likely to benefit from opportunities online and less likely to experience harm. We also know that resilience isn’t a lesson you learn in school or a skill you acquire – it must be fostered and nurtured, and parenting makes all the difference. So we’ll be helping parents by sharing the secrets of effective digital parenting,’ says Parent Zone CEO Vicki Shotbolt.

Read more about how digital resilience will continue to underpin all that we do as we move into 2018, in Vicki's blog, ‘A New Year for Parent Zone’