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Professor Julia Davidson contributes to government drive for internet safety

Middlesex professor works on report highlighting online dangers faced by young people

Middlesex University’s Professor Julia Davidson, LSE’s Professor Sonia Livingstone and Dr Joanne Bryce from the University of Central Lancashire have been commissioned by the government to produce a report detailing how young people use the internet, the dangers they face and the issues with safeguarding them.

The report will be part of a new Internet Safety Strategy aimed at making Britain the safest country in the world for children and young people to be online. It comes after recent research revealed parents are more concerned about their children ‘sexting’ than drinking or smoking.

Professor Davidson is co-director of the Centre for Abuse and Trauma Studies (CATS) at Middlesex. Part of her work there examines the risks and opportunities for young people using digital technologies.

“The UKCCI’s Evidence Group literature review is an important undertaking that will guide this key government initiative aiming to summarise current and recent UK research across a range of areas including children's use of the Internet, safety and victimisation,” she says.

“It is most important that good research evidence underpin policy and practice initiatives in this way, highlighting areas of concern and pointing to recent emerging issues such as youth radicalisation, pathways into illegal hacking and online gaming.”

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Ministers will also hold a series of round tables in the coming weeks with social media companies, technology firms, young people, charities and mental health experts to examine online risks and how to tackle them.

The work is expected to centre on four main priorities: how to help young people help themselves; helping parents face up to the dangers and discuss them with children; industry’s responsibilities to society; and how technology can help provide solutions.

Karen Bradley, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, believes it is important not to underestimate the damage certain online activities can cause.

“The internet has provided young people with amazing opportunities but has also introduced a host of new dangers which children and parents have never faced before,” she said.

“It is increasingly clear that some behaviours which are unacceptable offline are being tolerated or even encouraged online – sometimes with devastating consequences.”

The round tables are also expected to examine concerns around issues like trolling and other aggressive behaviour including rape threats against women.

Picture attribution: Clare Black Flickr Creative Commons 2.1

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