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Balancing between Opportunities and Risks

Edited By Wannes Heirman, Sara Mels, Christiane Timmerman, Heidi Vandenbosch and Michel Walrave

The omnipresence of ICT in modern households has provided children and adolescents with plenty of opportunities for education, entertainment and contact. This young age group, however, is increasingly confronted with a range of online risks relating to personal contact and inappropriate content. This duality was the central thread of an international multidisciplinary conference from which this book presents a selection of excellent papers.
After providing the reader with a typology of the benefits of and threats arising from young people’s internet use, the book elaborates on the issue of online access and the extent to which the young use ICT in their daily lives. The authors also consider the opportunities young people now have to use and produce online content, as well as the tremendous contact opportunities offered by social network sites. Alongside these opportunities, risks such as cyberbullying are examined too. The final part of the book is devoted to young people’s empowerment and protection. The roles of parents, schools and governments are scrutinized in the context of allowing young people to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks of the internet.


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Preface 9


9 Preface Most children and adolescents of the present generation have grown up in households where information and communication technologies are readily available. The omnipresence of new media within modern households has certainly given teenagers plenty of advantages and opportunities with respect to education, entertainment and social con- tact. Despite the obvious enrichment of children’s and adolescents’ lives through ICT, it is not hard to think of potential pitfalls in the use of these technologies, such as aggressivity in online contacts and confron- tation with age-restricted and possibly harmful content. This duality, the balance between online opportunities and risks, was the central theme of a two day international multidisciplinary conference organised by UCSIA and MIOS University of Antwerp. The conference, which was entitled “eYouth: Balancing between opportunities and risks”, attracted a broad multidisciplinary audience. Eighty participants were selected to present their papers at the conference following a double-blind peer review process. Around two hundred participants from dozens of countries attended the conference. With this publication, the conference organisers wish to share im- portant contributions of the eYouth conference with both the academic and the professional world. In this way, they want to contribute to the ongoing debate regarding both the opportunities and risks faced by children and teenagers on the Internet. This book is divided into four parts, preceded by a general introduc- tion in which we wish to inform the reader of the latest research in the field of the use of new technologies and the Internet by children...

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