why the real-world virtual-world divide?

When it comes to children, regardless of our status [marital or otherwise] we are naturally protective. It affects us deeply, emotionally, when children are the victims of bad judgement and deceitful intent so that their lives change direction forever. It is perhaps the greatest responsibility of society to provide the best conditions in which our children will flourish.  So why on earth is the internet treated as though it were some kind of parallel universe special case? Maybe it’s because we believe it to be so; an ungovernable world in which the best we can do is cross our fingers and hope no-one comes to any harm. I’ve a sneaking feeling that wouldn’t be deemed acceptable in the real world- imagine a government minister saying they’d thought about protecting children from purchasing hard-core pornography but decided against it because it all seemed rather complicated. So here we have the so-called digi bill (sounding like a new Nintendo character) wending its way through parliamentary corridors that attempts to provide few further safeguards for children or guidance for parents in internet use (the exception being in certification for online video games). It does, however, propose legislation to curb file sharing and copyright infringement. Hmm… A classic case of economic priorities being more important than child protection, perhaps.

So here’s a glimmer of hope- there are 2 modest amendments (put forward by cross-bench peer, Baroness Howe) to provide robust age verification for ‘adult’ content and a duty for Internet Service providers to make parents aware of filtering software throughout the duration of their contract. These would be 2 small steps towards a safer on-line world where children spend an ever-increasing proportion of their time. It is time we (so-called) adults grew up and faced our responsibilities rather than pretended they were somebody else’s. In a week that celebrates European safer internet day it all seems highly appropriate. Now, anyone fancy a millstone, my neck’s beginning to hurt?

for more information on the digital economy bill click here.

for more tips on online safety for children click here.


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