MNHQ here: contribute to House of Lords 'Children and the Internet' inquiry

(42 Posts)
FinnMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 24-Oct-16 16:02:21


The House of Lords Communications Committee has been in touch with Mumsnet for help with an inquiry they’re currently conducting into children’s access to and use of the internet, looking at the risks as well as the benefits. The Committee will "investigate how children's use of the internet is governed and regulated, examining the roles that parents, schools, media companies and regulators should all play."

The Committee has been taking evidence from experts in child safety, law enforcement, legal affairs and psychology, and from a number of child protection charities, and would like to hear from Mumsnet users too.

They ask: “What role should parents play in this area? What about schools? Media companies? How about government or regulators? Our committee wants to hear what you have to say on the matter – as parents, as teachers, or in whatever capacity you feel strongly about it – to inform the debate.” How do your children interact with the internet? What worries you, and what benefits do you see for your children in growing up in an internet age?

If you’d like to make a contribution, please do comment in this thread, which the Committee will be monitoring. Alternatively, if you’d like to remain anonymous, feel free to email, making clear in your message that you’d like to contribute as a Mumsnet user.

All submissions will inform the final report, due for publication in the new year, which will make detailed recommendations to the government, and to which the government must respond.


OP’s posts: |
JenniferYellowHat1980 Wed 26-Oct-16 09:05:13

My children are aged 6 and 4 and don't use the internet unsupervised and when they do it's CBeebies and a school homework app. I am, however, concerned about indirect access to inappropriatel content: pop-ups appearing on free to use game apps which aren't necessarily aimed at children but certainly appeal to them. The pop-ups can be fairly adult in nature.

The other thing that bothers me is smart TV apps. Netflix is easier to control although even with strict controls, Black Mirror has appeared in the trending menu. Amazon is more difficult. Although I have parental controls restricting their actual access, search for 'Hot Wheels' and as you finish typing the first word you get a few adult options appearing along with images. This isn't such an issue on Netflix as the thumbnails don't show in the search.

Finally - more of a general media issue really - can't stand pop stars like Katy Perry who appeal to kids producing videos easily accessible on YouTube depicting sexualised material (ok it's implied rather than direct).

Mother86 Wed 26-Oct-16 09:06:10

I'm a parent to a young child so this isn't really a problem yet, we have certain age appropriate apps (such as CBeebies, kids YouTube and some games) on a profile for him that he will be able to use when he's old enough to do so.
When he gets to the age where he is wanting to be on social media and look online then he will be allowed to use the family computer in a family room with supervision.
We will often check what he's doing online and check his social media profiles.
We will also set screen time limits so it doesn't take over his life.

I expect his teachers to set age appropriate home work and tasks, I don't expect them to ask him to do lots of 'watch this and find out about it' I think there's too much of that going on now when it's the teachers job to teach not to tell them to learn online themselves (I might as well home school if this was the case)
I would also expect the schools to have online safety lessons from a young age just as they would have sex ed lessons, it's just as important.

I think the owners of the apps and websites have a responsibility to set age limits on their apps and websites.

I think the government just need to keep up with the awareness campaigns and advice on how to manage online safety.

I think it's beneficial for our children to grow up with such a vast source of information at their fingertips, learning has never been so easy.

Me2017 Wed 26-Oct-16 16:01:09

You will tend only to hear from those with concerns over the internet. My chidlren have unfettered internet use because I trust them and believe in freedom. I do not haev a majority view but I do hold a view a decent percentage parents hold. In a state where we want parents to be able to make different choices and hold different views from others I would come down on the side of allowing parents to decide these matters, not the state and that we should be looking at keeping freedom of expression.

Just like some of us would walk around naked and others would cover every body part the UK is a liberal democracy and should remain so and we should allow parents to take decisions about this kind of thing.

We should ensure the state interferes as little as possible.

flowersthatbloominthespring987 Wed 26-Oct-16 23:21:29

Surprised there's not more traffic on this.

OK, will contribute, but have NC'd as this is outing...

I work in primary schools and part of my job in one of them (where I'm also a designated safeguarding lead) is to deliver safeguarding training to new staff. So it's: The law, internal procedures (who you report concerns to in school and how), Victoria C, Baby P, Ian Huntley, 4 types of abuse and how to spot them, examples they might see (eg typical areas of brusing/uncommon areas, etc) and then a whole load on what I term the "new" stuff - Prevent, FGM, forced marriage, witnessing DA, and loads and loads on internet safety.

And I always say to new staff, ch are legally not allowed on sites like FB, snapchat, instagram etc before being a certain age, but loads of kids in our school ARE on those sites, with parental knowledge and consent, but that most parents know less about the internet than their kids do. And then I tell them that I have a 14 yr old who is on MOST of those sites, some of them illegally, because she's technically too young and I don't give a fuck. Because we monitor her. But I know we don't monitor as strictly as we could. She IS vulnerable, and me and DH both know this.

This is my contribution.

shoeboxofm Thu 27-Oct-16 12:48:45

My concern is less about the internet itself and more about behaviours. There is a role for parents and schools to reinforce messages around consent and harassment. The attitudes that drive the most toxic aspects of the internet are facilitated by technology but are not the cause. We shouldn't have to tell our children that death and rape threats are not a proportionate response to a disagreement over a political position or a simple opinion. The media has a responsibility in this too in its use of dehumanising and inflammatory language around groups or individuals.

There are already laws to take action against these types of behaviour but prosectutions or meaningful action appear rare.

It's well documented that online platforms have been slow to take action on harassment and there needs to be more of a push to improve this. It shouldn't all be on the victims of these behaviours to come up with tools to address these deficiencies.

The language used is often unhelpful. The term troll is used as an umbrella term from someone that deliberately takes a stance to wind up a forum to those that engage in deliberate, pre-mediated campaigns of harassment and threats of violence.

Parents and schools also have a role in teaching children the lasting footprint they leave on internet and the potential impact that can have on later life. They should also be more aware of the privacy aspects in terms of how much information and control of that information is being surrendered when they join these online platforms.

MrsFrisbyMouse Thu 27-Oct-16 19:49:51

The internet (and all the related technologies) are not going away. Therefore we (and all agencies involved) have to find ways to help society to develop new societal norms around internet/technology usage.

The 'internet' is itself is a difficult concept - for me it's a bit like saying 'the world.'

Providers need to use technology to make customising access to the internet simple and effective. I think the technology itself can provide solutions.

Schools need to (in partnership with parents) be teaching awareness and self-regulation. But also be showing what an amazing learning resource children have at their fingertips.

Young children need to have their internet access monitored and regulated. More visibility of child friendly alternatives such as KidsTube and the Iplayer for kids as examples. More regulated areas of the internet where children can be free to explore and play safely. I think Minecraft servers with electronic moderators/babysitters are a good example of how the actual technologies can be used to make spaces 'safer.'

I think schools should be using more technology - every child should have an iPad with customisable learning environments. Harness that amazing technology and make it work in our favour.

I think there should be more research into the effects of social media usage on teenagers. Especially the creation of 'echo chambers' where they only hear the message they want to hear - and there is no balancing viewpoints. I am think particularly here about things like Tumblr and the 'glamorisation' of things like mental illness, self harm, gender identity etc etc. And linked to this - I think schools can play a role in identifying which children might be vulnerable to these areas.

I think access to pornographic content needs to be much more regulated and difficult.

There needs to be some sort of mobile phone that sits between smart phone and brick - or providers need to provide much more flexible customisation options.

Overall I think the benefits of technology far outweigh the dangers - and that the key is in using technologies to solve problems.


Thornrose Fri 28-Oct-16 10:12:46

My Dd has fallen foul of "teen" chat rooms which are unmonitored and of course the vast majority of posters aren't teens.

Dd is vulnerable due to her autism and chat rooms were her way of trying to "socialise". Despite my best attempts at educating her. I have had to remove her internet access completely for now.

I wish there were more genuine, safe online spaces for young people.

MerryMarigold Fri 28-Oct-16 21:20:41

My children are 10 and 8yo twins. School have been great at educating them about Internet safety (that dolphin character, further his name). They always have access to the Internet in a public space in the house or at worst a group of them in a bedroom. I am most worried about cyber bullying especially when a bit older, and unsupervised use on smartphones, or chat rooms. One of my dc is a bit vulnerable and I can see him being bullied or falling prey to grooming in chat rooms. I think schools need to continue to educate really understand what different issues are (eg. If they know what cyber bullying is and that is taken seriously they can alert adults to it happening). Parents play a role more in making sure content is appropriate, but I think half the time we have no idea of the dangers or how to prevent them (eg. Of chat rooms). School have done a much better job than me so far and I hope they continue to do so as my kids get older.

0phelia Fri 28-Oct-16 21:28:47

As soon as a child has access to the internet the child has access to porn.
Porn ads, hardcore content and even mild softcore are sometimes linked in the sidebar or below the line to the most basic innocent websites.

Even a comical giggly search for "boobies" will lead a child to hardcore bdsm. Even facebook posts could link to YouTube videos of real beheadings by Isis.

This is our digital reality and the internet cannot be controlled.

The answers lie at home and in education. Communication between parents, teachers and children. Children need thorough tech education as soon as they get internet access. They need to know some of the things they might come across could be upsetting, some may be exciting. But most of the internet is deliberately extreme, with the shock factor designed to make money from click traffick.

It's important to learn how to distinguish viable sources of information from someone's comment on Facebook or in a chatroom, and the difference between a blog and a journalist's article those sorts of things. To distinguish reality from real life.

An 8 year old can understand the concept of acting, lying and exaggerating. So can understand how to question what you see on the internet, but it needs to be taught and discussed properly.

0phelia Fri 28-Oct-16 21:31:43

(Realty from real life?) Lol meant reality from fantasy.

NonnoMum Fri 28-Oct-16 21:32:26

Schools make assumptions that children can easily access the internet for homework etc which isn't always the case.
ISPs could perhaps provide a time limit switch on computer (internet) usage as the internet is so absorbing that once a child starts to explore on it, it is very hard to distract them.

slightlyglitterbrained Fri 28-Oct-16 21:48:10

I find it worrying that the list of experts in the original post do not include technology experts. There is a tendency for politicians to demand technological solutions that are either impossible, impractical, have seriously undesirable side-effects, or all three - and then refuse to make any effort to understand the explanations they receive.

As a parent, I feel it is my responsibility to monitor my child's internet access, and am very strongly opposed to the idea of restricting the access of all adults on an "opt-in" basis. Having used a mobile provider who made so called adult access opt-in, leading to me being unable to view the Met Office site (that well known purveyor of explicit images of, um, clouds) - I know full well how unreliable such systems are. As a computer science graduate, I know that they are inherently unreliable. This does not mean that there aren't plenty of options for providing parents with better tools - but magical thinking about "well we'll just tell the boffins to wave a wand and we won't have to do any hard thinking stuff and we can get nice headlines in the Sun" pretty much guarantee we won't get there.

IMissGrannyW Sat 29-Oct-16 00:20:11

I'm surprised and not surprised there are so few responses to this, given it's a important topic, and most kids access the internet in some form. MANY of them do gaming, which has access to unsolicited conversations. Parents are often unaware of this, or if they are aware, have no idea of what the conversations might be.

I work in schools, and parents are all so "nanny state, we hate it - fuck off" until anything "difficult" comes along (i give you "Prevent") and then it's all "oh, why aren't schools doing more!"

WuTangFlan Sat 29-Oct-16 10:41:39

My main concerns are porn and smartphones - if a child has an internet enabled smartphone then they can access all sorts and show it to their friends. As a parent, I have limited control over that. My main concern in this area is porn, and the "normalising" of sexual behaviours without context or understanding of issues like consent, respect etc. This attitude then bleeds into "real life" in the language and expectations which are adopted. I don't know what the answer is, other than introducing age-appropriate conversation and education from an early age. A secondary concern relating to content accessed is things like beheading videos, and "making" kids watch things they don't want to - but that's probably more a bullying issue than a specific internet one.

In terms of the benefits, the internet is a fabulous source of knowledge, and I think the skills children growing up with now are different or differ in importance than skills needed in the "olden days". I remember writing headlines for news articles at school, it would be interesting to see if they now write "clickbait" headlines instead, and look at how would you get your article seen/read. Things have changed since when Ceefax and the newsagents were the main source of news and information, as has the way news is consumed. Critically assessing the veracity of information and verifying it with supporting sources is more important when a lot of homework relies on internet research - Wikipedia isn't always 100% reliable. My children have had homework set from age 5 of doing internet research, but I don't think this sort of issue is addressed. If you're going to expect them to use the internet, the tools they need to do that should be covered, or specific "trusted" sources recommended.

Me2017 Sat 29-Oct-16 11:03:42

I support slightlyglitter's point above - we need to do whatever we can to avoid "opt ins" and instead leave parents with responsibility and with opt outs where they choose. I have also had trouble with opt ins stopping access to perfectly lawful material.

We also need to remember that not all children have access to the internet and can afford it or may be in families where it is banned for religious or other reasons and ensure that we do not move all Government contact and homework to on-line.

We spend a lot of time at home in debates and discussions about material - when is the state or a political party or a large company or a small company/website channel manipulating views. One of my children chooses to have no Facebook page for example. I don't use FB either. Others do. I want them to make informed choices

I like to be disconnected on the internet with different sign ins for different things and big data not surprisingly as that's where it makes it smoney wants us all to sign in with facebook or twitter so that your knitting circle knows about your membership of your hunting or anti hunting group. We need to try to ensure we can keep anonymity.

I also have concerns that some parents want to control their children far too much in breach of the child's rights.

In 2018 the new EU data protection regulation comes into force in the UK (before Brexit so it will come in and it is a regulation so not a directive needing implementing legislation). When it does it gives us an option to make 13 (as now) rather than 16 as the age for chidlren to consent to data processing. I am pretty sure the UK and its Information Commissioner will sensibly go for 13 years as the age but I do hope the Government takes that stance.

Then in 2019 when we have Brexit I presume we will keep that new data protection regulation through the Great Repeal (i.e. not repeal) Bill. The EU has done pretty well in protecting citzens' rights against the state and against what the US might do with our data when exported so I hope we do not lose those protections when we Brexit.

slightlyglitterbrained Sat 29-Oct-16 20:30:58

If you think that sites should verify the age of everyone using them - what about Mumsnet, which is clearly an adult site? How would you check the age of everyone signing up? Do you need to have proof of identity of some kind? How do you get it? How do you get it back when you lose your phone/forget your password/whatever? How do you work out if it's safe to give a site identifying information when it might end up exposed by a hacker?

There are quite a few women alive and happy today because MN helped support them through leaving an abusive partner safely. If they'd had to jump through numerous identity verification steps to even sign up, how many wouldn't have done it?

Me2017 Sat 29-Oct-16 21:17:01

Age vertification is complex and people cheat anyway.

Under US law if a website is directed at children under 13 years of age (eg Disney) they have to verify ages under laws known as COPPA. It can cost about $50,000 per website to become Coppa compliant. I don't think we need that here.

We just need parents to control what their children do in a way those particular parents think is appropriate which for some parents for religious or other reasons might mean no TV or internet or DVDs and for others a much freer environment.

I am actually very pleased with this thread - there are more people on my side wanting no need interference with our freedoms. Normally on mumsnet you get a majority of people wanting to control internet access, read children's diaries, check their phones, track them morning noon and life and never trust them.

Rutlandunluckyducky Sun 30-Oct-16 11:26:42

The lack of good quality training for parents that is not basic and patronising. Parents want hands on sessions actually looking at privacy settings etc. on their own ipad/phone etc.not just to be directed to yet another site. Like the books we are always going to read parents are time short; they want to be doing not just listening.

By the teenage years many of these parents have had several e-safety talks so need something fresh. Many of the parents I give esafety talks are very au fait with technology in terms of its use but want to engage with the issues and loop holes that their young people face. They want to engage in debate about privacy v safety etc. Yes they need a quick overview of new popular sites as that is constantly changing but there are much deeper parenting issues that is really what they need the help with.

The problem for both parents and students is the lack of good quality material for different age groups that is current:- on sexting ( how old now is Exposed from CEOP? very female orientated), cyberbullying (Felix Alexander), grooming - that its not all about dirty old men (Breck Bednar) nothing on teenagers using sites like sugardaddy sites to make money. What's available isn't keeping pace with the issues young people and teachers are actually facing. If you want to be on top of it you have to be willing to do hours of leg work to write your own materials and that isn't always possible.

I've spent a lot of time looking at the Austrialian government material and some of the material being produced by individual states which is streets ahead - or is it that it is just fresh and age appropriate?

It takes hours to go through all the esafety providers to see who has got the latest/most appropriate material. Parentzone is good for leaflets and as a website for controls etc.; SWGFL for keeping ourselves as teachers up to date; CEOP NSPCC - too behind the curve and offers little for teenagers and their parents. Whilst there is clearly a market for CEOP ambassador training it is very basic and does not do what you need for competent teacher/safeguarding training (compare to SWGFL breifings). Commonsense media - some great articles on alternative games etc. that actually give parents of lower secondary age something constructive to move arguments forward. Gambling on line?

We need to recognise that the cohorts now going through secondary school in year 7 and 8 now have been hearing the safety messages throughout their primary education and like bullying - its getting old and tired. The classroom materials as well as the parent and teacher training need to move with the times.

Good online use produces fantastic enhanced learning. I've just been reading student feedback from a day on rich world poor world I did with year 7's a fortnight ago where they were learning how to select and use factually accurate and accessible on line materials then using them to debate whether the UK should be helping their own poor or giving money to the poor overseas. The feedback is really positive about what they learnt; what they now appreciate and how their views have changed. All achieved without using generic searches. These are the skills teachers need to be delivering to our young people as part of a programme of digital learning not just esafety.

What a shame that as a teacher I'm having to feed to a government committee through mumsnet. Not my union, professional organsiations, or any other association for the delivery of esafety!!!!

altik Mon 31-Oct-16 01:06:40

I also think there needs to be more good quality advice for parents.

My DDs (both under 13) have access to Instagram etc. School's response - you're not allowed it, it's illegal for you to have it, you must have it etc... apart from the fact that it's not illegal, and in fact I set up both accounts, so technically they're mine but my children post on them. I then have the accounts on my phone and so can monitor what my children are doing. However, the number of mums that have told me their children are not on Instagram, don't use it etc... when I've seen their children's accounts. Simply doing the ban isn't going to work.

But equally, I think some parents need educating too about how much they post. My daughter follows a girl gymnast and her mum, who has several thousand followers. She not only puts up too many crotch pictures of her daughter, but also gives away far too much info. To show this to my daughter, we spent half an hour or so looking her up - was able to find out where the girl lives, what primary school she goes to, what time the school finishes etc etc. My daughter was shocked I could get so much info so quickly. I don't expect her to know these things, but I am frequently shocked at how unaware some adults seem to be.

Becles Mon 31-Oct-16 06:59:05

I get frustrated that parents hold schools and providers responsible for doing their job.

Why give a 10 yr old a smartphone or pc in the bedroom? Then complain about the implications of unhindered access to the Internet?

I remember when chat rooms were shut down en masse by providers who couldn't be arsed after an outcry from people who took the passive parenting to new heights.

Then there are the 8 year olds on facebook and 10 yr old on twitter set up by parents. Why should we all suffer from parental disregard for basic ts&cs?

GirlInASwirl Mon 31-Oct-16 07:56:26

I have been so concerned about my DS's use of the internet that I have had to put a blanket ban on all devices. There seems to be a 'dark core' targeting teenagers at the moment - enticing them into unhealthy role -playing sites suicide/self-harm ideation forums. There has been a palpable rise in teenage mental health issue figures as a result. As a parent; it puts the frighteners up me! I think letting your children 'casually' cruise the internet is like inviting a 'world of pain' to your door. I think educating has gone past normal discussions of knowing the friends you are adding, how to block etc. It's the sites that masquerade as games/teenage support/homework sites that contain active links to some very 'dark' characters who suggest that self-harm/suicide is a proactive and healthy stance to talk when you are experiencing mental health difficulties. I would like my DS to be able to experience the joys of modern technology with more statutory censorship of these sites . Too much to ask?

FlouncingEmbelishesHaloween Mon 31-Oct-16 08:48:50

It's an essay I'm afraid....

Parents need to be allowed to parent. There are going to be many variables in the way households manage children’s access to the internet and also some barriers. I believe fear, lack of understanding and finance are the biggest barriers.
Fear is something that I see amongst the parents of my primary age children. Some parents go with the blanket you’re too young ban, others are very controlling and stand over their children when online – or online time is ten minutes under supervision to do specific homework tasks. Some give complete free access not understanding any element of parent controls, checking history or talking to the child about ‘the internet’. In the area we live a lot of families move regularly – high rental area. Due to this they don’t necessarily have home phone and broadband packages and tend to surf online via mobiles. Children in these families tend to then not have access, unless a parent shows them a youtube clip on a phone.

There is always going to be a generation gap with technology developing at a rate faster than the older generation are naturally in tune with. Parents don’t need to be fully abreast of all the changes but do need to have a basic understanding of what the internet is. How to nurture their childs use of it as an amazing social, educational learning and entertainment tool and how to manage the situation when things go wrong – from cyber bullying, trolling, data protection to online grooming. There are already some fantastic resources available online to self-educate about these areas. Parents need to periodically make use of these and stay vaguely aware of what the latest risks are. Schools could act as a natural information point to direct parents towards these sites as part of standard school newsletters and information packs.

Life is full of dangers. In any domestic set up there are drawers of sharp knifes, bottles of poison (bleach etc) yet we live in our homes and for the majority our children remain unharmed – because we educate them. We don’t give a toddler a sharp knife to play with. They generally learn a knife is for cutting with a table knife and we go over and over again that you don’t hold the blade end, you don’t put the knife in your mouth, you don’t run carrying a knife. Yet many just hand over an unrestricted tablet and release their child onto the internet. Learning safe online play is just like any other learning activity. It takes time, repetition and possibly the odd mistake for the lesson to be learnt.

I live in an area many may class as deprived. Significantly above average FSM in my younger twos school. My daughters class has eight children, in Yr1, who can barely speak or don’t speak any English - so practically 1/3 of the class. All children would benefit enormously from access to learn on line, from differentiated learning to allow language skills to develop, from free learning in some (sadly many) instances because parents aren’t engaged with nurturing learning. To have the internet as a tool in class I’m sure would help teach the diverse range of pupils.

My own children are 5, 10 and 13. They have tablets and the older two also smart phones and PC’s. I love that they can investigate and pursue their personal interests. My eldest is Autistic and has obsessional tendencies. The internet has been a saviour that he can investigate things to the nth degree. He likes information and we need to keep him involved in plans for all family activities. With the internet we can go on google earth and show him where we’re travelling too. We can watch YouTube clips that others have uploaded, we can go to virtual airport and trainstation sites to understand what travel will be like.

My middle son at 10, is just starting to really grasp how wonderful it is to be able to google ANYTHING. The positives have been when he’s asked questions like how much higher is Everest than Mont Blanc we can say ‘google it’, the negatives he can look up the latest ‘naughty’ word he’s heard at school – but even that is positive because we can see what he’s being exposed to and deal with it. As we can see what he’s been up to, monitor his history and talk to him about the things he’s been interested in. We have had a few internet use issues such as him watching adult video game footage when a gamer he liked moved from minecraft onto GrandTheftAuto and various other violent games. This led to nightmares and discussion about clicking through from one subject to another, as I see it part of the learning process that will make him a more rounded character ready for the adult world.

My youngest at five is also under investigation for ASD and has a very enquiring (endlessly questioning) mind. She has up until now, been restricted to sites (by our instruction) that we put shortcuts to on her home screen. Her spelling and typing have developed to the level that she can now explore. As technology progresses she’s also discovered speech recognition functionality and so can put in quite complex search strings – something we’re monitoring, but probably means her searches are more closely directed to those things she wants to find rather than a broader and sometimes quite random selection of sites. She is generally in our presence online as the family PC is in the lounge. She has a tablet but we have agreed methods of use like she is only allowed on the shortcuts from the homepage that we set up together. If we find other sites she wants to access when playing on the family PC these get added as a shortcut. We monitor her history just to keep an eye that she’s not straying.

All the children use the PC’s for homework and for learning aps. My younger two have access to a spelling ap that their teacher enters their spellings into and then they practice the list, the words are sounded out (great for non English speakers) and they can play various games like word searches and hangman based around the words. This is far easier as a parent and a child. It’s a faster method of learning than the endless daily write, nag and rewrite that I did with my eldest for his spellings.

I think the internet is amazing. I would like to see us embrace it and widely encourage its supervised use from nursery age onwards. One of the wonderful things about British culture is that we question, we learn and we are informed. I love that we have historically had such a cross section of printed media, that we have the wonderful unbiased BBC news, we empower each other to have great freedom of speech. We are a true democracy. Globally, I think this is really rare and we should celebrate this culture and as part of it celebrate the wondrous thing the internet can be whilst gently educating about the risks via our fantastic education system.

The government has an interesting role to play. I would hate to see significant controls put in on internet useage but also feel that some reporting systems and guidelines to online companies need to be in place – particularly the likes of twitter, facebook and mass communication sites.

I’d like to see some form of social responsibility pressure put on sites once they reach a certain level of membership. I’m out of my depth of understanding at this stage but feel there must be some options open to us along the lines that initial site signups to the site need to be from a fixed private IP address – so users are traceable and trolling by creating multiple anonymous accounts becomes more complex. Internet service providers must have lists of their private IP addresses. Rather like when you sign up for an email you need another email and a phone number to verify who you are. Any system can be worked around but each layer of complexity reduces the number of rogue users.

I would like all search engines to have a report feature that if you stumble across a completely inappropriate site you can send the link and then have their own internal flagging systems for sites that are mass reported to be passed onto appropriate bodies to be dealt with, i.e. the police.

I think the internet is completely underutilised in schools. The barriers are similar to those I see for parents. Fear, lack of understanding (in staff, governors and parents) and finance.

Fear of getting it wrong shouldn’t be the reason not to nurture learning. It appears we are reinventing the wheel in schools and LEA’s up and down the country. Why is every teacher in every school routing around and stumbling across things that could be useful, why does every LEA have its own little underfunded department cobbling together some form of schools controlled internet. This seems like a vast waste of resource when if all the LEA small pots of resource where put together we could have one decently funded department that put a decent schools net together. We could have a login ID for every school age pupil and teacher in the UK maybe based on their NHS number if their national insurance number isn’t yet generated. We could have a schoolsnet type social media forums and film uploading facilities. Yes, children would troll, bully and get it wrong. Children do these things in real life – it’s part of learning. Having an environment where we can allow them to make mistakes and teach them it’s wrong (because they’d be traceable and schools could get reports on their pupils usage) would help the next generation move into the wider world of the internet safely.

I’m in my early 40’s. We had a computer room at my school. One computer to four people and access for 1 hour a week for one term a year as I recall. I in theory have approximately 30 years left in the workplace so there will be many, many current teachers whose schooling and computer use was of a similar nature. The majority of these people are not going to fully get up to speed with the full ins and outs. It is also going to keep evolving. The best we can hope for is some decent simple exposure to an environment that’s monitored so we can start the learning ball rolling.

Financially schools don’t need to take all the burden. At secondary level, almost every child would appear to have a smart phone of some sort. These are now available for the cost of the compulsory casio calculator that was part of school kit when I was a teen. To have a wifi enabled device as part of standard secondary school kit should be a necessity.

At primary basic android tablets are available for around the £30 mark so really should be accessible to every child. Culturally they could again be seen as part of basic school kit with a standard format of tablet agreed.

My biggest worry for the internet is we try to over control and regulate it.

Me2017 Mon 31-Oct-16 09:49:38

Girlina and Founcing's very good post show a consensus: that parents differ a lot between those like I am who favour more "freedom" for children and those who want as a parent to exercise and do exercise more control. None of us are right or wrong - we are the examples of difference we want to continue to exist in a liberal democracy without big brother breathing down our necks imposing rules on us, telling us when a particular child is old enough to walk to school alone and the rest.

So perhaps the best thing the legislators might do is nothing at all. The only people who tend to benefit for more and more new laws are the lawyers like I am - do we really want to line my pocket?

Chunkamatic Mon 31-Oct-16 18:04:07

I wouldn't have commented on this thread, but after an incident this weekend it has highlighted to me the vulnerability of my children.

My 8 year old DS managed to access a porn site on the internet as he was googling sites from which to download football logos. I cannot even imagine how his search terms had resulted in this hit. I have controls set on the iPad, although he was (unknown to me) aware of the code. Luckily, my mum was sat next to him and got the iPad from him before he saw anything further. However, she said that the content on the page was incredibly traffic, showing sex acts taking place.
I'm shocked that google cannot do more to monitor the content of seemingly ominous sites. The URL was something like

I can accept that some people (adults) want to access pornography on the internet. But there should be no need for these sites to be connected with search terms that are totally unrelated.

As someone who has limited tech knowledge, I try to do what I can to set the controls to protect my children but seemingly this is not enough

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