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Live webchat with Tanya Byron about internet safety, Wed 24 Feb, 1pm

(136 Posts)
GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 22-Feb-10 12:43:32

We're very pleased that Tanya Byron is our guest again. She'll be online from 1pm - 2pm this Wednesday, 24 Feb.

Tanya is a practising consultant in child and adolescent mental health who has two children of her own. She's the author of three books and a well-known broadcaster.

Ahead of the chat, Tanya has sent us this to post on her behalf:

I really enjoyed my last webchat on Mumsnet and found the the questions and insights really interesting.

I have recently been asked by Gordon Brown to review internet safety since my Safer Children in a Digital World report (the Byron review) in 2008.

To ensure my review takes in parents' views, I'm really keen to get Mumsnetters' perspectives on both the opportunities that you think the internet gives your children and also the risks you've encountered.

I'd like to chat about anything to do with internet safety, but to get your thoughts flowing, a few starting points could be:

Is there enough information which is easily accessible about internet safety?

Where do you get your information and advice on internet safety?

How good are schools at educating children about internet safety?

What do you think about internet safety in the context of videogames, games consoles and mobile phones?

Look forward to chatting to you on the 24th!

SexyDomesticatedDad Wed 24-Feb-10 10:40:24

Dr Tanya is very **, IMHO, and she also has very simple clear and direct messages about how we should be parenting.

I do think that modern technology is a double edged sword - many, many benefits but needs to be used wisely. Do not agree with letting primary school children have a mobile at all. Even at secondary they should be limited as the temptation to abuse using them is too great and probably too disruptive for classrooms.

Computer access - need to ensure filters and safety etc is built in and certainly for younger ones (primary) to have fully supervised access - secondary becomes more of an issue and trust needs to be established with clear guidelines.

Console use - we limit ours and they ask to use them - when cousins come to stay they are [hmmm] as to why they need to ask 'cos they get to use them whenever they want.

There is no magical formula and each family is different but on the whole need to work with schools and hom,e to get a good balance between fun and safety.

Elsewhere Wed 24-Feb-10 10:43:11

For me & my kids internet safety is like learning to cross the road. You need the comprehension to understand the risks and steps to take to avoid them on the information superhighway.

You need to hold their hand in the beginning and watch out but when they're able then let them manage online.

My eldest is 12 and I always ask her about what happened. She's not on facebook or any social sites yet as we're following the age requirements. She watches me on the pc & I talk her through dealing with spam, unwanted adverts, people we don't know, what to do when something she's not expecting comes up.

Interested to read this discussion

LadyBlaBlah Wed 24-Feb-10 12:35:20

Personally, I think the Internet Safety campaigns are coming at it from the wrong angle. I worked for ISPs for many many years and understand exactly how it all works and as far as I know there is absolutely no 100% guaranteed way to stop unsuitable content for children......the technology simply does not exist. ( I don't worry about the facebook element - as others have said - that is about education and teaching them about who might be there - as in real life)

But what bothers me immensely is the access to horrific pornograhic images (verging on rape, rape, humiliation of women, 'filling all holes', gang bangs etc) because this seriously warps minds especially of teenagers. So, what I would like to see is more campaigning to stop the absolutely vile and essentially illegal material on the internet. And people say there are not anyways to do this, but that is absolutely not true. One of my very good friends is the head of Internet Abuse at one of the very big ISPs and he works 20 hours a day, because they won't employ enough people to do it, because essentially they don't care because they don't have to, because no-one is campaigning effectively to control this content.

It CAN be controlled, but at the moment, there is very little effort put into it, and the Internet Watch Foundation, which is responsible for controlling content is a BLOODY CHARITY ! This is not a charitable purpose - it is a LEGAL requirement!

Rant over ! To summarise - I think Facebook etc are fine for the youngies - that is what is good about the internet. However, the content that is available to young people (which can never be 100% blocked) is unacceptable and needs tackling with vigour !

DrTanyaByron Wed 24-Feb-10 12:44:18


BitOfFun Wed 24-Feb-10 12:54:13

Ooh exciting! Welcome Dr Tanya smile

LadyBlaBlah Wed 24-Feb-10 12:57:22

I must clarify my point after re-reading - it is not 100% possible to block content to their PCs, however it is possible to block content further up the chain at ISP level. And more should be done to do this - IWF is just not enough !

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 24-Feb-10 12:58:29

We're very pleased to introduce Tanya for her third visit to mumsnet - welcome Tanya ...

mrspoppins Wed 24-Feb-10 12:59:10

Hope you realise I am missing the House of tiny tearaways for this!!!grin
hmmMust get a lap top!

DrTanyaByron Wed 24-Feb-10 13:02:30

Hello everybody, it's really good to be here, thank you so much for agreeing to have this discussion with me. Sorry you're missing House of Tiny Tearaways for this!

I'm currently looking at the way we manage risk and opportunity for kids on the internet and will be publishing a paper to Government at the end of March and want the views of parents to form a key part of my recommendations - that would mean you all!

RTKangaMummy Wed 24-Feb-10 13:02:45

My DS is nearly 15 and has a mobile that does have the mobile internet function BUT it is on PayandGo and the internet has not been activated cos I set it up and didn't want him having internet on his mobile

So if you have a child with a mobile that has the internet function on DON'T ACTIVATE IT

He understands why he doesn't have internet on his phone and is ok with that


Thanks for the link to the FACEBOOK stuff but I have done all those settings on his profile and mine but they are still not invisible

He has a nickname as his profile name and mine is set as a nick name for my first name and then my maiden name so we are quite annonymous.

DrTanyaByron Wed 24-Feb-10 13:03:32

Lulumama, thank you for you really great question about helping kids understand the long-term implications of what they post online. This is called a “digital footprint” and as we know, there have been some reports of employers looking at social networking sites etc in order to see people’s general conduct and behaviour. When it comes to kids, who are clearly not thinking about the long term implications, we need to help them understand that what they post could form people’s opinions about them in a way that they might one day regret. In addition, particularly for our kids who are on social networking sites, we need to ensure that their safety settings are set to “privacy” so that photos of them with their mates having fun won’t be seen by anyone unless they want them to see it.

Shannaratiger Wed 24-Feb-10 13:03:35

My ds(3) and dd(6) both use the internet to play games either on nickjr, cbeebies or our facebook. The computer is in the living room so we can always see what they are doing , but we have no idea about how to set parental controls. I know I would not allow them to have their own FB page until they are at least at secondary school and the computer is staying in the living room where we can keep an eye on them.
My dd has no social awareness in RL I definately wouldn't trust her on-line, but I appreciate that every childs different and some are more sensible / aware than others.

What is the best way for us as parents to start discussing internet safety with her?

DrTanyaByron Wed 24-Feb-10 13:04:13

Lulumama, I agree with you that online safety should be discussed with children as soon as they start to use computers/gaming consoles/mobile phones and this definitely needs to begin in primary school. However, I think that the safety messaging needs to be embedded within a broader thinking about what it is to be a digital citizen, which includes all the positive opportunities and benefits of the online world as well as understanding and managing risks.

DrTanyaByron Wed 24-Feb-10 13:04:40

Canariesfansmum, you are very honest when you point out that we as adults are often clueless about the technology our kids are using because we didn’t grow up with it. However, we need to clue ourselves up if we are giving our children technology to use. The DS Lite console can be used online but you can lock that off and it’s probably best that you do before your kids start to go online and play with people that you don’t know about. For more general information search “Click Clever Click Safe” where you will receive information about key safety messages you should be discussing with your kids. I also recommend Childnet International’s educational CD-ROM “Know It All” – there is a version for parents and also a version for schools. Why don’t you encourage your school to order it in to have sessions with parents and children about these important issues?

DrTanyaByron Wed 24-Feb-10 13:05:14

Lewisfan, thank you for highlighting how important it is for children to be given internet safety information from a young age – your DS was 6 when he did safety week, and it sounds like he left being extremely knowledgeable. It also sounds like he might have been a little bit scared by some of the messages as you say that he now advises you that talking to people on Mumsnet is dangerous! Joking aside though, I think it is very important that when we educate our children about internet safety we balance the messages so that we don’t leave them too afraid to enjoy the incredible benefits and opportunities of the online space.

LadyBlaBlah Wed 24-Feb-10 13:05:25

That is why what is actually available on the internet is such a problem, RT - they can access horrific porn very quickly nd there is no way of blocking it personally 100%!

What is being done to stop this sort of content on the web? It is not about freedom of information etc. it is about legalities - surely it is not legal to show rapes etc?

mrspoppins Wed 24-Feb-10 13:05:40

What about schools via the Dept of Education giving each family a web safe book with all the info we need?

DrTanyaByron Wed 24-Feb-10 13:07:58

Elsewhere, your analogy with crossing the road is a really good one. We now have the SCREEN CROSS CODE which is "Zip it, Block it, Flag it" which you can find by searching on "Click Clever Click Safe" and this will give you a similar approach to teaching kids the fundamentals about online safety in the same way as the Green Cross Code taught us the fundamentals of offline safety.

oldenglishspangles Wed 24-Feb-10 13:08:37

Do you think more effective/ workable to have a team 'demonstrating' safety? ie a team that deliberately pretends to be some one else and then at the end of the excercise is out to see how easy it is to be reeled in. Experience is far more effective than speach?

oldenglishspangles Wed 24-Feb-10 13:09:00

speech even!

Spidermama Wed 24-Feb-10 13:10:16

Hi Tanya,

I think we really need a social networking site which caters for those between Club Penguin and Facebook ages. It needs to be ultra safe and heavily moderated.

I would be very happy to pay a subscription for just such a service and I'm frankly quite surprised that I haven't found one.

Is there such a thing?

If not, how can we make it come about?

Social networking is a fantastic tool.

oldenglishspangles Wed 24-Feb-10 13:10:45

should read 'at the end of the exercise is exposed to show how easy it is to be reeled in. My poor dyslexic brain!

DrTanyaByron Wed 24-Feb-10 13:13:25

LadyBlahBlah, you come from a position of experience. I really appreciate your candour. I think you are right to make the point that there is no 100% technological solution to keeping children safe and away from adult material online. As you point out, the Internet Watch Foundation works with ISPs to block child abuse images and is very effective at doing so. The other content you refer to e.g. pornographic content, if not illegal then would not be blocked and there are very powerful arguments for why this should be that belong within the censorship/freedom of speech debates. However, as a parent myself, I agree that this material is entirely inappropriate for young people to view and we need to take all the steps we can to manage this. This would be robust filters + clear rules about going online + PCs for younger children in communal areas + setting individual profiles etc etc. At the end of the day however, it comes down to how we parent our children and this is about understanding risk, managing risk and knowing who to talk to if something goes wrong.

donnie Wed 24-Feb-10 13:13:26

Tanya, I have two daughters aged 8 and 5. Neither of them are really into using computers yet but I assume their interest will grow as they get older. I am interested in whether you feel there are different types of risks more specific to each gender and if so, what they are and at what age they start to become problematic? thanks.

Saltire Wed 24-Feb-10 13:13:28

My 2 Dses 9aged 10 and 12) haven't got facebook, despite their protestaions. I was very shocked though when I discovered that friends of theirs and neighbours children had FB pages, open to everyone which listed schools, mobile numbers etc.
I am lucky in that DH has done a lot of computer security as part of his work so ahs made the DSes very aware of things.
However their friends, we can't be sure they have. For example one 11 year old (one of the children whose FB pages I saw) last summer showed all the children on the street hard core porn images on his phone, which he had downloaded from the itnernet, or his older brother had sent him. he was offering to send them to DS1 via bluetooth. When I confronted his aprents they said "well what can we do, we can't stop him on the internet".

I think all aprents should take care to regulate what their children can or can't see, and I think that schools should offer advice/training to parents to help some of them out

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