#101: Child risk management

We hear a lot about parents who are either neglectful or overprotective of their children. It can be quite hard to equip young people to manage the risks they encounter. They have no experience and just giving them abstract rules like not to talk to strangers may not mean anything when they are offered a lift by a nice lady who looks like their auntie.

The adult world is now full of software tools to help us control risk and make better decisions -mostly aimed at safeguarding money. Similarly, there is huge interest in helping soldiers protect themselves on the battlefield by the use of eg virtual reality simulators.

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Today’s invention is simply to populate a simulated world with potential risks, so that kids can learn about road crossings, paedophiles, drug pushers, being bullied, dangerous games, peer pressure etc. I’d imagine a number of age-related games supplied to schools. They needn’t be fully immersive VR programs: children get immersed easily enough, if the content is engaging.

A semi-realistic, games-like environment would still work and there need be no simulated horrific consequences of making a wrong decision. The simulation could be made to stop when one has occurred, and some form of corrective tuition delivered, either by a teacher or via another simulation.

It might cost £500,000 to build such tool, (or adapt an existing one) but think of the value of allowing every child at school to learn some effective personal risk management.

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