Following the news about the Children’s Commissioner for England, who have today released a report highlighting how children are being left to fend for themselves online and stressing the importance of better education to ensure children stay safe while surfing online.
The report recommended that:
- Children should study “digital citizenship” to learn about their rights and responsibilities online, so they are prepared for online activities
- Social media companies should rewrite their “impenetrable” terms and conditions in far simpler language so children know what they are agreeing to
- Ministers should create a “digital ombudsman” to mediate for children seeking the removal of content
IT security experts from Intel Security and Yoti commented below.
Raj Samani, CTO at Intel Security:
“The internet is a world of temptation for children and putting the responsibility on kids to surf safely is like letting them loose in a sweet shop and telling them to resist the treats. We all have a responsibility – parents, teachers and technology experts – to ensure children understand how to protect themselves from the potential risks online. However, parents can’t be expected to monitor their children’s activity 24/7 – recent research from Intel Security discovered that only 40% children aged between 5-12 years old are being supervised the whole time they are using the Internet.
“Kids are growing up in a digital-first world and adapt naturally to new technology, which can lead parents to feel intimidated and refrain from enforcing rules that are imperative to protect their children as they surf and socialise online. Simple steps such as putting the computer in a high-traffic family area and using special browsers specifically for kids are great first steps for parents to take in order to better monitor their children’s online activity. Security software is also available that can restrict what kids see and do on the web, taking a lot of pressure off parents to stay current with every new threat.”
Robin Tombs, CEO at Yoti:
“Today’s Growing Up Digital report sheds a necessary light on children’s safety online – but clearly there is much more to be done. I welcome the integration of digital citizenship into the school curriculum to help children learn about their rights and responsibilities online. However, education alone is not enough, with the report finding that many children do not trust teachers to understand online safety.
“The Digital Economy Bill, which will force adult websites to add age verification checks, is one example of the government looking to make headway on child protection issues. As new laws like this start to come into effect, websites need to take responsibility to protect younger users, providing peace of mind to children and parents alike. It’s vital that they invest in new security measures and innovations to make the internet a safer place for children.”
“Both children and adults should also have more control about the personal data they give to companies, choosing what information they share and who they share it with. This will be a great step towards protecting our privacy and identity in a digital world.”