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After the moral panic? Reframing the debate about child safety online

Facer, Keri (2012) After the moral panic? Reframing the debate about child safety online. Discourse: studies in the cultural politics of education, 33 (3). pp. 397-413. ISSN 1469-3739

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Abstract

This paper examines the initial ‘moral panic’ surrounding children's access to the Internet at the end of the last century by analysing more than 900 media articles and key government documents from 1997 to 2001. It explores the ambiguous settlements that this produced in adult–child relations and children's access to the Internet. The paper then revisits the policy and media debate a decade later by examining the Byron Review, Digital Britain Report and media coverage of these, in order to explore how these settlements have been negotiated, resisted and transformed over the subsequent period. In so doing, the paper asks whether it is time to reframe the debate about children's occupation of online public space, less in terms of ‘care’ for children's needs that tends to result in exclusionary and surveillance strategies, and more in terms of children's rights and capacities to engage in democratic debates about the nature of an online public space in which they are already participating.

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