Legitimising the Unacceptable? Young People’s Relationships in the digital world.

The Futures Centre is committed to ground-breaking research across different areas of life, where the social, the economic and the political meet.

Our expert colleague, Professor Andy Phippen’s research interest lies in the exploration of the use of technology in relationships, eSafety and the impact of video games (especially among young people), in the public engagement of ICT and also in the ethical and professional practices in the IT sector.

Andy has worked with the ethical and social responsibility, and how technology impacts in the social world, with companies such as British Telecom, Google and Facebook. In the last 10 years he has specialised in the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT’s) by children and young people, carrying out a large amount of grass roots research on issues such as sexting, pornography, cyberbullying and online harassment. He is a research partner with the UK Safer Internet Centre and is a frequent media commentator on children and the Internet. Furthermore, Andy actively visits and gives lectures on Internet safety in secondary schools across the UK.

On 28th September Andy will be one of the key speakers at the Plymouth Young Peoples Sexual Health Network Meeting, held in Plymouth. Professor Phippen’ s talk will focus on relationship in the ‘digital world’. The talk will further examine how young people (18 and under) behave in the digital world and key differences across sub-populations e.g. gender, race and social class. The talk will also investigate what key challenges we need to meet and also what opportunities does the digital world provide in regard to building respectful relationships; improving the sexual health of young people; reducing teenage conception and other opportunities. It will further explore what implications are there for service and system design that aim to reduce risk and promote healthy relationships and what is working in this context.

On 30th September Professor Phippen will be speaking at the NOTA International Conference 2016. The title of his presentation: The new normal: young people, technology & online behaviour, in this session our colleague Andy will talk about his work with young people looking at the normalisation of behaviour we might view as antisocial, or in some case illegal, as a result of technological facilitation. With a focus on how technology impacts on relationships, he will explore issues such as sexting, and highlight tensions in legislation and child protection, as well as that failure of education programmes to keep up with normative social practices.

NOTA is the National Organisation of the Treatment of Abusers. NOTA Mission Statement: is a charity committed to the prevention of all forms of sexual violence and abuse. Its mission is to reduce victimisation through the development of policy and practice with children and adults with harmful sexual behaviours, their families and communities. NOTA provides education, training and research to professionals in the UK and Ireland. NOTA influences public policy by offering advice and by promoting change in government, professional agencies, the media and wider society.

Professor Phippen’s research contribution to online safety for young people is vast. Not to mention his contribution and impact on policy.  Andy’s new book Children’s Online Behaviour and Safety: Policy and Rights Challenges will be released at the end of October this year.


From the Back Cover

The book explores the use of technology in young people’s social lives against a backdrop of “online safety measures” put in place by the UK government to ensure safe and risk free engagement with online services. The UK landscape is used as a case study to compare the grass roots of digital behaviours with attempts by policy makers to control access and prohibit “bad” behaviours. In conducting an analysis of current UK policy positions and media perspectives against ethnographic research in areas such as gaming and sexting, the book highlights the flaws in approaching the control of disruptive social behaviours using prohibitive approaches. It also highlights the gulf between the experiences of young people and the capabilities of the school system to deliver effective education around safe online behaviours. The author illustrates the complex relationship young people have with technology, as active engagers rather than passive consumers, and looks at the ways in which their needs for effective education and resilience are currently not being met. Furthermore, he demonstrates, how, in an effort to make them safe, stakeholders are eroding children’s fundamental rights.




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