The new UK Council for Child Internet Safety.

I’ve got real concerns about this (see the bottom of the post). According to this news release it will:

• establish a comprehensive public information and awareness and child internet safety campaign across Government and industry including a ‘one-stop shop’ on child internet safety;

• provide specific measures to support vulnerable children and young people, such as taking down illegal internet sites that promote harmful behaviour;

• promote responsible advertising to children online; and

• establish voluntary codes of practice for user-generated content sites, making such sites commit to take down inappropriate content within a given time.

This is what Tanya Byron thinks:

“Every parent will know that know that video games and the internet are a part of childhood like never before. This is extremely positive; giving kids the opportunities to learn to have fun and communicate in ways that previous generations could only dream of. But it can also present a huge challenge to parents and other adults involved in the welfare of children.

“That this why we need industry, regulators and parents to work together to protect children against the risks. Setting up UKCISS was a key recommendation in my report and I’m delighted that the Government along with industry, education, law enforcement, and the children’s charities have acted so promptly to make this a reality. “The Council will be a powerful union of some of our key players giving support to parents and guidance to children as they come more and more accustomed to the virtual world – it will also give families, teachers and most importantly children and young people the ability to input experiences and concerns. The UK is a world leader on internet safety for children and I look forward to others adopting this partnership approach.”

I’m worried this organisation will be risk averse, burdened with the pr fear of any internet abuse being laid at it’s door. Already the government has been looking for ways to police the internet.

The country that manages to balance the risk/opportunity that the web represents for young people is the one that will be best placed to enjoy the economic benefits on offer.  Having run a quango once, I know that you don’t create an energetic and imaginative attitude to risk by creating a new quango.

However it is easy to carp.  I think UKCCIS should start with teachers. If we can warm them up to the possibilities that come with an open attitude to the internet, rather than a closed or mistrustful one, we then have a hope of encouraging them to teach children to manage risk rather than run from the slightest suggestion of it.  Until teachers have high levels of digital literacy we’ll struggle to have schools that are anything but freakishly fearful of the web.

One comment

  1. David Gerard says:

    Prime Minister Gordon Brown has hailed the launch of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety as a \”path-breaking\” new diversion designed to protect the most vulnerable members of society: \”The politicians.\”

    The Council was formed based on recommendations from television psychologist Dr Tanya Byron\’s report Gi\’s A Consultancy Go On Gi\’s It. \”The UK is a world leader on internet safety for children, and I look forward to collecting a truly spectacular ongoing income stream.\”

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