Digital rights and online security

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funds research into the big social and economic questions facing us today. This year’s nationally celebrated Festival of Social Science, with over three hundred free events taking place across the UK, allowed us to question and debate behaviour and online privacy, online security and children’s rights with regard to digital freedom and digital policy.

The specific topic is highly relevant nowadays as the digital world of technology and the internet connects and influences our daily lives bringing not only a broad range of benefits but creating new challenges and risks.

Children’s rights in the digital age are presently undermined by a mix of innocence, ignorance and media pressure. It is in the interests of the economy, society and indeed the whole world to wake up and inform the younger generation of the positive/negative impacts of the ‘the digital’ environment. Children’s well-being and their digital rights and awareness are interlinked and inseparable.

Pupils from Helston Community College enthusiastically engaged in prepared activities and participated in interactive talks given by Professor Andy Phippen and an entrepreneur Raphael Dennett. Professor Phippen reviewed recent policy and current research into digital rights raising concerns about online safety and the impact it has on teenagers and society as a whole. Digital enthusiast and entrepreneur Rapheal Dennett talked about the importance of self-marketing as an individual especially in terms of a future employee or employer.

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Professor Andy Phippen on digital rights, November 2017

The prepared tasked engaged students in debates and offered space for group work. Pupils had to create various posters and present their points and opinions in short 3-minute presentations, which allowed them to gain confidence in public speaking and improve their presentation skills further. The presentations were judged by our speakers and also by Dr Hilary Duckett, the Associate Dean of Employability and Associate Professor of Human Resources and Leadership who joined us for the day.

Throughout the day, pupils worked alongside Plymouth University student ambassadors taking full advantage of the opportunity to learn about different degree programmes and student life in general. The day ended with a sunny walk around the campus.

In the words of the student ambassadors

(AN) “I think being able to work with the younger generation really helps to understand how the world is changing and why there is a need for them to be educated about these changes. They are the future”.

(AP) “It was great to see so many students engaging with the event and showing a genuine interest in their futures. I really enjoyed talking about life at university with them and hearing their contributions in the presentations”.

As coordinator I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience from the creation and preparation to the delivery of the event and I would like to thank the ESRC, FoSS and teachers from Helston Community College. I would also like to thank all involved from Plymouth University; the speakers, the Research and Innovation Team and the Events Team.

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