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UK asks ‘how can parents protect their children online?’

29/06/12

The UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) has today issued a public consultation document seeking the nation’s views on how to keep children safe online. UKCCIS wants to know what parents, business and organisations responsible for protecting children, think about the current approaches to parental controls and online safety and whether more could be done to keep kids safe.

What this consultation wants to find out is whether the consensus is for any of the following: for Internet Service Providers to block access to unsuitable content such as pornography at the network level, for instance at the point of purchase of broadband; for computer and mobile phone manufacturers and retailers to pre-install parental controls on the products they sell; or for parents to have access to a range of accredited web filtering products that they can install themselves on internet-connected devices within the home.

The consultation asks businesses in particular what they are doing to keep children safe online. Netintelligence went through a 12 month long accreditation process to gain a new accreditation from the British Standards Institution (BSI) - the Kitemark for Child Online Safety. This was an accreditation created specifically to give impartial advice to parents about the quality and reliability of parental control software. Netintelligence remains the only web filtering software in the UK to carry this BSI Kitemark and we would like to see other companies follow our lead because this would surely give parents the confidence they need when seeking products to help keep their children safe online.

Our children use so many internet-connected devices now – laptops, Xbox, Wii, iPad, smartphone – that ultimately its parents who carry the responsibility for making sure their children can’t access unsuitable content through them. Just as parents make sure their child knows how to cross the road safely and wears a helmet to ride a bicycle, so they need the tools and guidance to keep those same children from harm online.

Netintelligence’s parent company iomartcloud carried out a survey of parents in Scotland earlier this year to find out what parents were doing to keep their children safe when using the internet. The survey found that while half of the parents polled said they had installed protection on laptops/desktop computers in the home, very few had considered the risks posed by mobile phones, internet-connected TVs and gaming consoles.

Commenting on statistics in Scotland that have linked a rise in sex crimes by the young to their growing exposure to pornography online, Bill Strain, director of Westcoastcloud, said this week: “ Many children still have unfettered access to the internet and parents need to take reasonable steps to protect them.”

It’ll be interesting to see what the response is to the UKCCIS consultation. We will be offering our views as part of the public consultation and you can too. The questionnaire is available on the Department for Education website at www.education.gov.uk/consultations. The closing date for sending in your views is Thursday 6 September.

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