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Archive for the ‘moral panic’ Category

crime documentary that avoids the usual moral panic

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The Violent Highway is unusual for TV programmes about violent crime. Instead of an unquestioning “everything is getting worse” angle, the documentary instead looks at crime past and present, through the device of a single London street.

“the film recreates key incidents taken from 300 years of muggings, wife-beatings, pub brawls and serial killings. Historians, psychologists, residents of The Highway and former gang members discuss whether we are more or less violent than we used to be, and what this street can reveal about the violence in all of us.”

At one point the narrator starts the usual hackneyed point about how violent modern TV and video games are, but this only leads into Steven Pinker pointing out how we take pleasure in the violence in  Greek and Shakespearean tragedy, and in murder mysteries too.

BBC Two Programmes – The Violent Highway

Written by Karen

May 22nd, 2009 at 7:45 pm

the internet is a school playground?

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“it is the first social environment created for the asocial individual, and in that respect it divides us into anomic particles and conquers us as effectively as any political tyranny. It returns us to high school, where popularity is the only standard of success, where taunts are the dominant style of amusement, and where self-absorption has yet to ripen into self-awareness.”

Lee Siegel at Comment is Free on why the internet isn’t an unqualified good

Written by Karen

June 20th, 2008 at 2:16 pm

Posted in digital,moral panic

digital natives

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This month’s FUMSI included Derek’s Law introduction to Digital Natives but not everyone is taking the concept of ‘digital natives’ at face value. Academic Sue Bennett of the University of Wollongong, Australia is trying to take a scientific approach:

“The idea that a new generation of students is entering the education system has excited recent attention among educators and education commentators. Termed ‘digital natives’ or the ‘Net generation’, these young people are said to have been immersed in technology all their lives, imbuing them with sophisticated technical skills and learning preferences for which traditional education is unprepared. Grand claims are being made about the nature of this generational change and about the urgent necessity for educational reform in response. A sense of impending crisis pervades this debate. However, the actual situation is far from clear. In this paper, the authors draw on the fields of education and sociology to analyse the digital natives debate. The paper presents and questions the main claims made about digital natives and analyses the nature of the debate itself. We argue that rather than being empirically and theoretically informed, the debate can be likened to an academic form of a ‘moral panic’. We propose that a more measured and disinterested approach is now required to investigate ‘digital natives’ and their implications for education.”

The ‘digital natives’ debate: A critical review of the evidence

Further reading :

Written by Karen

June 16th, 2008 at 10:16 am

Posted in digital,moral panic

can’t concentrate? blame the internet

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Is Google making us stupid? is the title of Nicholas Carr’s article in Atlantic about the impact of the internet on how he thinks.

“Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. My mind isn’t going—so far as I can tell—but it’s changing. I’m not thinking the way I used to think. I can feel it most strongly when I’m reading. Immersing myself in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy. My mind would get caught up in the narrative or the turns of the argument, and I’d spend hours strolling through long stretches of prose. That’s rarely the case anymore. Now my concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages. I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do. I feel as if I’m always dragging my wayward brain back to the text. The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle.”

Part of me thinks there is something to this but the other part believes this is just an attempt to deny that this is happening because we’re not as young as we used to be.

Written by Karen

June 10th, 2008 at 8:11 pm

Posted in digital,moral panic

books are doing fine

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Nice to see a story suggesting that everything isn’t going to the dogs:
books are thriving despite the internet

Written by Karen

May 30th, 2008 at 9:08 am

blogging is bad for you

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In Web World of 24/7 Stress, Writers Blog Till They Drop

Oh, for (insert expletitve) sake.

Obsession and excess are bad for you. It doesn’t matter what the thing is. It could be carrots. Too many of them turns you orange. Ask Kim.

Written by Karen

April 9th, 2008 at 8:11 pm

Posted in food,moral panic

the Byron child safety review

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I wrote in October about the announcement of Tanya Byron’s review into the impact of violent video games on children.

Mind Hacks were recently a good deal more generous than me about Tanya Byron heading up the review:

“Tanya Byron is great. She came to prominence as the resident psychologist on several UK TV parenting programmes but used evidence-based interventions, essentially demonstrating what a clinical psychologist would do if your child got referred for behaviour problems.

Most notably, she obviously knew her shit and is widely respected among clinical psychologists. Despite often being described as a ‘TV psychologist’ she remained working in the NHS at the coal face of clinical work.”

The report is out now and is mostly sensible and balanced which makes me feel like I was unnecessarily skeptical, for example the report says:

Just like in the offline world, no amount of effort to reduce potential risks to children will
eliminate those risks completely. We cannot make the internet completely safe. Because of
this, we must also build children’s resilience to the material to which they may be exposed
so that they have the confidence and skills to navigate these new media waters more


There are new risks presented in online gaming, many of which are similar to the potential
risks to children of other internet use. These games offer new opportunities for social
interaction between children and there are a number of potential benefits for children and
young people from playing video games, including cognitive and educational gains and
simply having fun. Interestingly the evidence to prove these benefits can be as contested
as the evidence of negative effects.

Full report: Safer Children in a Digital World

Written by Karen

April 5th, 2008 at 1:35 pm

thinking allowed: hoodies

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BBC Radio 4’s Thinking Allowed: Hoodies covers the moral panic in the UK around teenagers wearing ‘hoodies’, particularly the banning of people wearing hooded tops from Bluewater shopping centre.

It was interesting to hear about the swing towards positive stories such as the teenager who used his hoodie to save a girl from a swarm of bees. A story which sadly I couldn’t track down.

One typical feature of moral panics is the disconnect between public perception and reality. So youth crime is falling but 65% of the UK public think it is rising. Young offenders commit 10% of crime, 66% of public think it is at least 40% of crime.

Also interesting was the fact that the Trafford Centre banned hooded tops 7 years earlier than Bluewater but generated mere fraction of the publicity. Just like all ideas, all moral panics have their time.

Written by Karen

March 3rd, 2008 at 7:57 am

Posted in moral panic