Recent Internet Safety Research

2 April 2008 - Ofcom Survey on Social Networking
Parents are unaware of the dangers their children face by posting details about themselves on social networking sites. And they must do more to monitor their use of sites such as Bebo and Facebook, communications watchdog Ofcom said.

Ofcom published research showing that 27% of eight to 11-year-olds, who have internet access, bypass online age restrictions to put their profiles online. The report also found that many parents and children lack awareness of the issues surrounding privacy and safety on the internet.

Ofcom said the websites could do more to remind people of the risks involved in putting all their details online. Almost half (49%) of eight to 17-year-olds now have a profile on a social networking site.

But 16% of parents do not know who can see their children's profiles and many believe that their children are safer online than they actually are. While 41% of children admitted that they did not use privacy settings, only 30% of parents knew that their children's profiles were open to view by anyone online.

 

27 March 2008 - Byron Report: Safer Children in a Digital World
Tanya Byron's Government commissioned review into the harmful effects of violent computer games on children, is expected to have far reaching implications for games publishers and retailers, with Gordon Brown stating that the Government will be implementing all of Dr Byron's recommendations.

"Everyone has a role to play in empowering children to stay safe while they enjoy these new technologies, just as it is everyone's responsibility to keep children safe in the non-digital world," the Byron report says.

Dr Byron recommends the introduction of a cinema-style ratings system for video games. The BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) is expected to take a leading role in the licensing of games. The report also states that games rated 12+ should have age verification mechanisms in place.

The review also calls for a UK Council on Child Internet Safety to be developed, reporting to the Prime Minister. Other suggestions made in the Byron review include better promotion of parental control software, both from computer manufacturers and internet service providers.

The recommendations have been largely welcomed by children's charities & industry.

"We are extremely pleased to see that Dr Byron has recommended that all computers sold for use in the home should have safety software pre installed, and that internet service providers should provide safety software as part of their standard offering," said NetIDme Director, John Carr, speaking in his role as secretary of the UK's Children's Charities' Coalition on Internet Safety.

Read the Byron Report (pdf)