Framing Internet Safety
The Governance of Youth Online
An examination of youth Internet safety as a technology of governance, seen in panics over online pornography, predators, bullying, and reputation management.
Since the beginning of the Internet era, it has become almost impossible to discuss youth and technology without mentioning online danger—pornography that is just a click away, lurking sexual predators, and inescapable cyberbullies. In this book, Nathan Fisk takes an innovative approach to the subject, examining youth Internet safety as a technology of governance—for information technologies and, by extension, for the forms of sociality and society they make possible. He argues that it is through the mobilization of various discourses of online risk that the everyday lives of youth are increasingly monitored and policed and the governing potentials of information technologies are explored.
Fisk relates particular panics over youth Internet safety to patterns of technological adoption by young people, focusing on the policy response at the federal level aimed at producing future cybercitizens. He describes pedagogies of surveillance, which position parents as agents of surveillance; the evolution of the youth Internet safety curricula, as seen through materials on cyberbullying and online reputation management; and, drawing on survey results and focus groups, parent and child everyday practice. Finally, Fisk offers recommendations for a “cybersafety of everyday life,” connecting youth Internet safety to trends in national infrastructure protection and corporate information assurance.
In this nuanced and thoughtful book, Nathan Fisk carefully sifts through the headlines, 'expert' commentary, and evidence to explore how Internet safety has become a key site of struggle over the power to determine children's opportunities and to control their agency.
Sonia Livingstone, Professor, Department of Media and Communications, London School of Economics; author of The Class: Living and Learning in the Digital Age
Fisk's book is a valuable and much-needed contribution to questions raised about Internet safety both inside and outside of academia. Investigating safety strategies as forms of governance, his clear and well-written text demonstrates how 'risks' also become an excuse for disciplining young people through excessive monitoring and policing of their online lives. The various quantitative research methods used on a wide range of material, combined with personal notes and illuminating examples, make this book an engaging read and should be read by all who want to take part in discussions about the digital lives of youth, whether they are parents, educators, journalists, or scholars.
Helle Strandgaard Jensen, Assistant Professor, Department of History and Classical Studies, Aarhus University