Can parallel universes link? – talking with children and young people about the use of their personal information

Over this last year or so, what I would guess I would call my Occupational Hobby has focused on questions around privacy and the way children’s personal information is handled.

But the take I have on it relates to what I see as a disconnection between how those whom I perceive as ‘the usual suspects’ (well-meaning – of course! – officials in Children’s Services) think how this should be handled, and how, increasingly, children and young people themselves handle their own personal information and learn about – an hopefully come to terms with – the implications of this for their privacy.

To put it another way, what is now ContactPoint was thought about and designed well before anyone had ever thought of MySpace, but the disjunction between the frames of reference that the two operate under re privacy is too noticeable not to remark upon it. Hence ‘parallel universes’. Among other triggers for action (well, writing, anyway) was the widely observed capability for nuanced handling of privacy issues by children and young people, which the officials have thus far resolutely seemed blind to.

 So I thought I’d write a bit about this, and did so earlier this year, with the result that’s attached below at the foot of the post. When I finished this draft, I had a strong sense of returning the ideas to the wild from whence they came originally, as I had throughout been able to surf on the ideas that were already publicly available. So, many thanks to all those who went before. It felt like launching it down a slipway – the material would need to fend for itself on the open sea hereafter. Publishing it here follows through on that, a little.

Though pragmatically, I should say that a substantially edited, much shortened, probably tighter and ‘final’ version of this material is intended for traditional publication as a chapter in a Policy Press book, at some point. Accordingly, this version is but a rough draft…



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September 2007
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