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MNHQ here: contribute to House of Lords 'Children and the Internet' inquiry
41

FinnMumsnet · 24/10/2016 16:02

Hello,

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 //[email protected]liament.uk, 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.

Thanks,
MNHQ

OP's posts:
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slightlyglitterbrained · 16/11/2016 22:33

Also worth reading what the Open Rights Group has to say about recent proposals to censor legal websites for adults
www.openrightsgroup.org/campaigns/digital-economy-bill-hub/stop-uk-censorship-of-legal-content

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slightlyglitterbrained · 15/11/2016 06:00

This makes pretty chilling reading:
www.theverge.com/2016/11/14/13596974/internet-freedom-decline-global-censorship-facebook-whatsapp

It's worth being aware of what we might lose with ISP level controls - would you want Trump or Putin deciding what you can discuss?

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random79 · 07/11/2016 13:06

cloudyday99 - I can understand to a degree your dilemma - I think you have to carefully balance between restrictions and otherwise.

I think that at the age you're suggesting (16) - you need to move beyond technological controls as a means of enforcing compliance on to persuasion. It won't be long before they can move out and they will have to learn sometime.

That said, I don't think it's unreasonable to remove administrator rights from a system IF the child is using the system irresponsibly. I assume you're not running super aggressive content filtering (if your content filtering requires constant entering of passwords either they are looking at some dodgy stuff or it is far too aggressive).

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cloudyday99 · 06/11/2016 22:27

I'm aware there are apps. But that's no use unless you prevent your child having admin rights to their phone and computer which in my experience is problematic after a certain age, as it means there's a lot they can't do without you constantly having to log in for them. Not really appropriate for a 16 year old.

I can see the issues with browsing history, but would really like to be able to make devices go offline at a fixed time. We do this with our WiFi at home but my mobile provider said they can't switch mobile data off at night.

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random79 · 06/11/2016 21:41

cloudyday99 - the problem with what you've asked for is that it doesn't really work, barring applications on devices (like slightlyglitterbrained suggests).

The problem is that, like your bank, most websites use encryption to protect your data. When you visit facebook you'll notice that it has a little padlock next to it? That means that all your router (and ISP) can tell is that you have visited facebook - not what you've done, what you've seen, what you've posted.

This is also generally the recommended approach that the web is moving more and more towards, which is why the current "in-network" filtering that seems to be a big thing for the ISPs is such a silly idea.

If you're technically capable, you could intercept your child's traffic, but consider the damage if kids could have no privacy - the impact this would have on GLBT kids, amongst others. Your suggestion also provides "protection" only at home, not at other people's houses, or on public wireless.

(Note, you might ask why you could intercept your child's traffic but your ISP couldn't do it - it's mostly down to the fact that to intercept your child's traffic you have to effectively break the encryption that they have - would you want your ISP reading details of your bank account?)

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slightlyglitterbrained · 06/11/2016 20:45

cloudyday did you know that there are already apps you can buy that will allow you to set limits on your child's screen time across devices, let you see what sites they are browsing, let you block them from installing particular apps? Take a look at the features here for an example: screentimelabs.com/

Given that this is already readily available to parents, I think it's unnecessary and excessive to ask the government get involved here.

I like the idea of "transitional" social media accounts - maybe you should suggest this to the companies directly?

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cloudyday99 · 06/11/2016 18:59

I would love to see phone companies and broadband providers forced to offer parental controls that:

  • allow the account holder to view browsing history
  • block porn and chat rooms
  • allow the account holder to set which hours devices cannot be used in (ie nighttime)

    I'd also like to see child versions of social media accounts, open to around agree 11-13 when the child can have the account but the parent has a master password allowing them to see what is posted, including messaging, or (if they prefer) to monitor it all before it is posted. This would help parents to teach their child about social media use and get them used to it in a safer context. Much better that at present when most preteens have Instagram and Snapchat with no monitoring
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Justputyourshoesonnow · 06/11/2016 02:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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ChittyBB · 05/11/2016 08:37

I think the key here is information and education. Parents and children need to be educated about the risks of the Internet. Not just the really nasty risks that make good headlines, like grooming and access to hard core porn, but the mental health effects that access to social media has on kids and teens. Schools and family centres are best placed to provide this advice and they should do so from a young age. Ultimately it's up to parents to choose how to regulate internet access but they need to make a well informed choice after being informed of all the risks.

Schools should ban all smart phones during my the school day as they distract from learning and kids share inappropriate content when out of sight of their parents. I can't understand why many schools allow phones in classrooms.

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random79 · 04/11/2016 15:20

This will probably be a bit of an essay, and a bit more disjointed than would be ideal. As a (brief) bio, I'm in my mid 30s, a man, a computer programmer and I have a

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FlouncingInAWinterWonderland · 04/11/2016 13:32

Scaevola I love that analogy.

It leads me to thinking though, we record accident and fatality details by car type and manufacturer - something like N10 report from memory, this helps puts pressure on manufacturers to incorporate safety features.

If we could somehow log explicit/ inappropriate content accessed from 'X device and Y supplier' , a quick log info option. The pressure could be put on suppliers because we as consumers would have the option to select a provider with a cleaner record in this area.

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scaevola · 04/11/2016 07:41

I think trying to make the 'big tech firms' responsible for content is akin to expecting car manufacturers responsible for road safety.

Just as you need to be trained to drive safely, you need to be trained to use the Internet safely and in both cases understanding the dangers.

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GirlInASwirl · 04/11/2016 06:13

I also agree parental control systems on many sites, servers and apps are not nearly comprehensive enough. We have parental controls on all sites and update these regularly. My DS is also light years ahead of me in being tech- savvy - as are his teenage friends (who seem to come up with endless suggestions on how to access inappropriate content; which my son finds intriguing) The computers hackers and other dodgy characters that are intent on slipping really graphic content into what should be family- friendly sites are also more expert. Trying to monitor it all is a full time job - and to be honest a giant pain in the rear! I have found 'sex games' on child gaming sites, bestiality on a homework site under a 'Biology tab', adult dating sites under 'Citizenship'....all very tenuous links on sites that are meant for young ones. I would suggest more parental controls are not nearly sophisticated or updated enough.

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Theladyloriana · 03/11/2016 20:55

I think the big tech firms need to take more responsibility to ensure that hate speech isn't proliferated on their platforms, and that includes misogyny.

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scaevola · 03/11/2016 18:32

bobgoblin have you tried a device-based filter and found it wanting? For they definitely exist.

One thing that has struck me is how easy it is to underestimate how quickly and his young DC become tech-savvy. If you are not getting the right messages across in primary school it may well be too late. My teens could circumvent any tech measures I put in place if they were so minded.

There isn't going to be a tech 'silver bullet'. There was a brilliant MN post from Empusa (the 'unicorn' post) a few years ago, which still is absolutely spot on. It really does all come down to education, and monitoring of younger DC. A small child simply should not be left alone with an Internet-connect device.

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bobgoblin23 · 03/11/2016 14:33

I want parental controls to be simple and universal across all platforms and devices. I should be able to set the phone/tablet/computer and trust that device is now set with the correct controls. It's unacceptable that my child could take a device to a wifi hot spot or a friends house, and access inappropriate content if their broadband is not content controlled.

My device should be mine to control and set up, this backdoor needs closing and only the tech companies working together can do it. They won't unless legislated to do so.

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ElasticGirl · 01/11/2016 02:39

The internet can be a wonderful place but it doesn't mean it has to be completely unregulated to be so, and parents need help to protect their children, because even following all advice, adding restrictions, carefully monitoring use, some inappropriate sites can be accessed. My understanding is that with porn for example, it is possible to make it so it is only available in an opt in way, but providers don't do this, for commercial reasons I assume, and this is something the government can look at. Television is a medium which has developed a careful compliance system when broadcasting sexual content, or depicting violence, discussing suicide for example. All this shouldn't be thrown out the window with the internet, it is still a form of broadcasting, much more difficult to manage, but no reason not to try.

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Chunkamatic · 31/10/2016 18:04

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 yoga18.com.

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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Me2017 · 31/10/2016 09:49

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?

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FlouncingEmbelishesHaloween · 31/10/2016 08:48

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.

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GirlInASwirl · 31/10/2016 07:56

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?

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Becles · 31/10/2016 06:59

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?

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altik · 31/10/2016 01:06

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.

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Rutlandunluckyducky · 30/10/2016 11:26

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!!!!

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Me2017 · 29/10/2016 21:17

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.

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