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Children's experiences needs and concerns require a critical analysis in the present as well as for the future as their insights will be the present of the future. The richer insight can be gained by using the internet and that could equivalent attention paid to adults. (livingstone, 2009)
According to Sonia livingstone (2009), internet can either be a provoker or the reason of social change. It is also seen as either introducing new problems to the society or helping in the improvement of the society (livingstone, 2009). Internet plays a very important role in changing the life of the people, especially children and young people who are vulnerable and keen to learn new things, ideas and concepts. Internet can either be a helping hand in order to improve the society or can ruin the society miserably.
Every time questions asked about children and young people related to 'how they interact, learn, play, participate, encounter risks', is always related to the internet (livingstone, 2009 p: 1). Now a days, the only thing a child wants is a computer, so they can play, interact and participate with the outside world. This has increased the ability for children to improve their communication skills as well as knowledge. But this is not it. Internet has brought in a lot of risks for the children and young people as well such as 'e-burglary, e-strangers, e-cruitment, trolling' (http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~rxv/projmgt/internetrisk.htm#risks). Internet is the best and the fast place to book for holidays or shopping online has become a part of our daily life. But is the internet very safe to give away our credit card numbers. Hackers are very common in the world of internet and computers. For children internet has become an exciting tool. They get to interact with new people and they give away their personal details. They are not aware of the risk of giving out personal details to strangers. Young people, who are in search of jobs, upload their CV online, not knowing complete details about the site where they are applying. Hackers create their own database and send spoof messages to people. It is the parent's responsibility to help the children and protect them from the hackers and risks. A study by Gadlin (1978 cited Livingstone, 2009) showed that parents cannot rely on their childhood experience to guide their children in managing spatial and temporal structures of their children's moral, domestic and family life (Livingstone, 2009)
Children can sometimes be very explosive. They want their needs to be fulfilled. It is extremely important to understand the children and their needs. Parents should control their kids and protect them from risks, but at the same time understand what they want and encourage them to grow their knowledge. As per the 'Children's Society', children need a good family, friends, taking part in positive activities good values, no racism etc. to be happy. But most of the children said that to be happy in life, they require education, self confidence and security. They want to be respected equally. Bullying by elders or adults, peer pressure can restrict them from having a fun filled, knowledgeable, helping them grow internally and exciting childhood. (http://www.childrensociety.org.uk/kids_zone/about/a%20good%20childhood/13842.html). They should not be left alone in the middle of adult population, but along with this, there should not be an assumption of a lot of difference between the adult and children. (Livingstone, 2009)
In the recent decades, the western industrial societies have witnessed the transition between the early and late teens and the average age of leaving home. Children remain dependent on their parents for longer (France, 2007). The structural changes like the structure of employment, education system, increased urbanisation, transformation of gender relations and reconstruction of house and family have repositioned the children within the society and altered the passage to adulthood (Hill and Tisdall, 1997; James, Jenks and Prout, 1998). As Coontz observes:
In some ways, childhood has actually been prolonged, if it is measured by dependence on parents and segregation from adult activities. What many young people have lost are clear paths for gaining experience doing responsible, socially necessary work, either in or out of the home, and for moving away from parental supervision without losing contact with adults (1997: 13)
In the book, Sonia Livingstone tried to understand and draw attention on 'theories of learning, leisure, communication, participation and the risk society- just as is the case when investigating adults' use of the internet' (livingstone, 2009, p: 2). Her main purpose was to 'identify the key current of thought and debate that can contextualize a critical analysis of children and the internet so as to overcome the limitations of a technologically determinist approach and to open up a richer account of how and why the internet has come to occupy so much of children's time and attention by understanding what else is going on in their lives' (livingstone, 2009, pp:4-5).
Children are usually perceived as experts and leaders in the way of using the internet, but also as being extremely vulnerable to the risks and consequences and failing to use the internet. This book draws attention based on observation and experiments towards the learning of the young people and how they striking out risks and increasing opportunities as they use the internet (livingstone, 2009)
There is a public debate between children and the internet. There are so many questions unanswered such as, 'does the internet make any change at all or not, does the internet make things better or worse, are children media-savvy experts or newly vulnerable and at risk'. The answers still remain extremely confusing, either it can be it depends or both/and, even after the empirically used qualifications (Lievrouw, 2004; Livingstone, 1999, 2003; Wellman, 2004).
"Through confident use of communications technologies people will gain a better understanding of the world around them and be better able to engage with it" (Ofcom, 2004: para 3).
Is the internet really changing children and young people's lives? Is the `digital generation' seriously having any benefits from the new and exciting opportunities that it provides? And, most importantly, facing new risks?
The book 'Children and the Internet' addresses these questions. Her approach revolves only around the child's activities like internet related, space, lifestyle, etc. It is not internet centred. It purposely neglects the techno-celebratory approach and, instead of talking about that, she interprets the uses of internet by children in their everyday life in relation to the difficult and changing cultural and diachronic conditions of childhood in the current modern world. Unambiguously, itÂ talks about the complex energy between the opportunities and risks online, exploring this in relation to much questioned issues such as:
Â· Digital in/exclusion
Â· Learning and knowledge
Â· Peer networking and privacy
Â· Civic participation
Â· Risk and harm
After studying the theories of education, development, identity, and participation, this book talks about challenging the realities weakening the expectations that governments, teachers, parents and children themselves have on the internet. It concludes with an advance looking structure for rules and regulation which is planned to encourage children's rights to connection, expression and play offline as well as online.
The UK Children Go Online Project which was conducted by Livingstone and Bober (2003) concluded that younger children regarded internet as a place and gave names like 'giant book about everything', 'dictionary', 'encyclopaedia', 'directory', etc. Whereas, older children regarded the internet as a 'link' or a 'system' (Livingstone and Bober, 2003).
According to Sonia Livingstone (2009, p. 25), the roles that are to be played by the social actors, are being played by the internet.
She says the children are getting more exposed to the media which is affecting their minds. Children are getting friendlier with the internet which might harm them.