I have secured a Lords debate on social networking sites …

I have been successful in the ballot to obtain a two and a half hour debate on the adequacy of the safeguards protecting children and young people using social networking sites on the internet.

The debate will be on the afternoon of Thursday 12th February 2009 and appears on the order paper as:

Lord Harris of Haringey to call attention to the growth in the use of social networking internet sites by children and the adequacy of safeguards to protect their privacy and interests; and to move for papers.

The process was that at the beginning of the session I tabled my debate proposal and waited to see whether it would be successful in the ballot: in fact, I gather it was fourth in the ballot for 12th February but those winning the top two slots couldn’t manage the date.

I have been interested in the issue for some time and I hope the debate will cover the extent to which children and young people are encouraged to post personal information on social networking sites to an extent that damages not only their personal security but also their future job prospects.  Nearly 50% of those aged 8 to 17 living in this country are – according to OFCOM – members of an online network community.  Often the warnings given to those signing on for the first time are inadequate.  The Home Office has issued guidance to social network providers but the guidance is not mandatory and has little effect on sites run from outside the UK.

12 thoughts on “I have secured a Lords debate on social networking sites …”

  1. Excellent – glad this is up for debate…

    I do wonder how many of those debating will ever have themselves used a social networking site? You’ll have to give them some crash courses Toby! 🙂

  2. Glad to see a debate on the issue, but am concerned about what the outcome may be.

    If it is increased awareness about the need to educate young people and parents about internet privacy issues then that is good.

    If it is about creating new legislation to restrict use of social networks then that is not good. I hope the hysteria levels are low and fact levels are high.

  3. Very glad to see this up for debate – and I look forward to hearing what discussions cover.

    I’ve just posted (http://is.gd/ioI2) some reflections from the work I’ve done over the last 12 months about the need to make sure the focus is not on restriction and blunt education (e.g. messages that say ‘don’t do this or that’) but is on building young people’s critical literacy, supporting professionals to work with young people to encourage them to reflect on safe and effective use of new technology – and on taking subtle but important steps to make the social network site environment itself more conducive to encouraging individuals to make sensible informed decisions about the information they share and how far they share it.

    Most important of all though in this debate would seem to me to ensure there is a strong appreciation of the different approaches needed at different stages of childhood and adolescence. It’s important that a debate about children and young people doesn’t collapse into a debate just about one or the other.

  4. Let me echo my colleagues comments above – great to see it on the agenda… I’m also an advocate of designing from the actual rather than perceived (a lesson I learned from being the first corporate youth officer for any local government authority) and in working in this area for the past three or so years.

    Here is a link to a podcast interview I did over the weekend with one of the members of the US Internet Safety Technical Task Force who were commissioned by the Attorney Generals to produce a report (which Harry has already linked to):

    MS Podcast#132 / Rezed Podcast#26 – http://tinyurl.com/auwgws

    Lot of lessons to be learned here especially when it comes to the perceived dangers of social networking by us “adults”… good luck with the debate and looking forward to reading the notes.


    MediaSnackers Founder

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  7. Excellent news about the House Lords debate on SNS and eSafeguarding issues. I am very interested in learning what the outcomes were from the debate and what this means for future policy development?

    I have been developing, consulting and delivering a SNS digital youth participation outreach in Devon County Council for over 12 months with particular focus on reaching vulnerable groups of young people from across Devon. My colleague and I are in the process of accrediting an OCN course covering issues of eSafeguarding and Identity harm minimisation on SNS.

    I have drafted a policy including the following; SNS Risk assessment, SNS child protection, data protection, informed consent, verification of profiles & SNS code of conduct. The objective for 2009 is to embed on line dialogue and feedback between adult decision makers (Children’s Trust, Devon County Council & IYSS) and young people from across Devon.

    Below are links to evidence my practice to date:

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