The Oxford Union Debate

In partnership with Debating Matters and Battle of Ideas 

Join us in the historic and prestigious surrounding of the Oxford Union for debates that promises to be robust and thought-provoking as we tackle subjects rarely out of the news.

The Schools Debate 

"Populism is a threat to democracy"

Following a day of debating amongst Oxfordshire 6th form students, the final debate of the competition gets this event underway. 

The presentation and award-giving will take place immediately after the debate.

The Main Debate
19:00 – 20:30

"From sexting to screen-addicts: should we be afraid of online harms?"

Few deny the benefits of social media and the internet age, yet there are also constant calls for greater regulation of online media and concerns about the negative effects especially for children. In February of this year, the UK’s Chief Medical Officers issued recommendations to parents encouraging them to ban the use of mobile phones at the dinner table. We live in a time of heightened sensitivity to possible online harms – from foreign interference in elections through online ‘troll farms’ to the alleged link between social media and suicide.

Parents and teachers seem especially eager for clarity about what boundaries to enforce online. To what extent should we be concerned about the harms that exist online, or should we be careful about fanning the flames of moral panics? How should we protect children from new technologies without robbing them of the possibilities such technologies afford? Should we be worried about the erosion of privacy online, as people share more and more and are increasingly tracked by large corporations and governments? Do we need to have a conversation about why we increasingly see everything in terms of the harms that exist, and struggle to imagine new generations and ourselves as robust enough to deal with the challenges we face?

We are delighted to welcome Claire Fox to chair this debate. Claire is founder and director of the Academy of Ideas, a writer and broadcaster and regular contributor to BBC Radio 4’s The Moral Maze. Our guest speakers are Dr Victoria Nash, Deputy Director, Oxford Internet Institute, Martyn Perks, digital business consultant and writer, and Jess Butcher MBE, technology entrepreneur, co-founder of Tick and Blippar and three times TedX speaker and MCS U6 student Jamie Shepherd also joins the panel to give his reflections on this most topical of subjects.


Date: Thursday 27 June 2019

Time: Please see details in the main copy

Venue: The Oxford Union 

Tickets: £12/£10/£2