Saccharine playgrounds don’t help anyone

From: Can a Playground Be Too Safe? – NYTimes.com

“Children need to encounter risks and overcome fears on the playground,” said Ellen Sandseter, a professor of psychology at Queen Maud University in Norway. “I think monkey bars and tall slides are great. As playgrounds become more and more boring, these are some of the few features that still can give children thrilling experiences with heights and high speed.”

After observing children on playgrounds in Norway, England and Australia, Dr. Sandseter identified six categories of risky play: exploring heights, experiencing high speed, handling dangerous tools, being near dangerous elements (like water or fire), rough-and-tumble play (like wrestling), and wandering alone away from adult supervision. The most common is climbing heights.

“Climbing equipment needs to be high enough, or else it will be too boring in the long run,” Dr. Sandseter said. “Children approach thrills and risks in a progressive manner, and very few children would try to climb to the highest point for the first time they climb. The best thing is to let children encounter these challenges from an early age, and they will then progressively learn to master them through their play over the years.”

Sometimes, of course, their mastery fails, and falls are the common form of playground injury. But these rarely cause permanent damage, either physically or emotionally. While some psychologists — and many parents — have worried that a child who suffered a bad fall would develop a fear of heights, studies have shown the opposite pattern: A child who’s hurt in a fall before the age of 9 is less likely as a teenager to have a fear of heights.

By gradually exposing themselves to more and more dangers on the playground, children are using the same habituation techniques developed by therapists to help adults conquer phobias, according to Dr. Sandseter and a fellow psychologist, Leif Kennair, of the Norwegian University for Science and Technology.

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Cyberspace ≠ big bad wood: children and the Net

The psychologist Bruno Bettelheim said that "enchantment had its uses" for the developing child. The fairy tale was a symbolic world in which the child's struggle to understand what adulthood might mean – all those difficulties around power, passion and purpose that we have to eventually master – could be rehearsed in a reasonably safe internal space. I think we should seek to build virtual places with the same capacious and developmental purposes for our children. It's a grown-up job to consider all the subtleties of how these places might balance constraint and freedom, support and autonomy.

And we are adults, remember? There's one modern fairy story – involving angels and demons, maleficence and innocence, the prey and the predator – that we clearly shouldn't fall for. Cyberspace isn't the big bad wood. Cyberspace is what we consciously and wisely make it to be.

Source: here

Cyberspace ? big bad wood: children and the Net

The psychologist Bruno Bettelheim said that "enchantment had its uses" for the developing child. The fairy tale was a symbolic world in which the child's struggle to understand what adulthood might mean – all those difficulties around power, passion and purpose that we have to eventually master – could be rehearsed in a reasonably safe internal space. I think we should seek to build virtual places with the same capacious and developmental purposes for our children. It's a grown-up job to consider all the subtleties of how these places might balance constraint and freedom, support and autonomy.

And we are adults, remember? There's one modern fairy story – involving angels and demons, maleficence and innocence, the prey and the predator – that we clearly shouldn't fall for. Cyberspace isn't the big bad wood. Cyberspace is what we consciously and wisely make it to be.

Source: here

Net Cetera – OnGuard Online

In Net Cetera: Chatting With Kids About Being Online, OnGuard Online gives adults practical tips to help kids navigate the online world.

Kids and parents have many ways of socializing and communicating online, but they come with certain risks. This guide encourages parents to reduce the risks by talking to kids about how they communicate – online and off – and helping kids engage in conduct they can be proud of. Net Cetera covers what parents need to know, where to go for more information, and issues to raise with kids about living their lives online.

Source: here

Web Safety Presentation for Parents

Finally gotten round to slidesharing a presentation I did for some Unicorn Mums who were worried about what their children got up to online (and wanted some advice about how to go about it). It’s a general overview rather than anything too specific.

As Mr W says (commenting on this slightly depressing article in the Grauniad)

The real question, however, boils down to the amount of privacy you feel your own children are entitled to. In my own case, I am a friend on my own kid’s Bebos, and I’ve also installed imsafer… but neither of these was done without discussing it with the kids first. For me, that is the dividing line between acceptable and unacceptable surveillance…

Completely agree about the dividing line. For what it’s worth, here are the slides (with a few wangy fonts).