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News from the field

Safer Children in a Digital World

Published on: 27.03.08
Source: Press release of the British Department for Children, Schools and Families

In September 2007, the British Prime Minister asked the clinical psychologist
Dr Tanya Byron to lead an independent review to help parents and their children get the most from new technologies while protecting children from inappropriate or harmful material. The focus of the review was on the Internet and video games.

A comprehensive package of measures to help children and young people make the most of the Internet and video games, while protecting them from harmful and inappropriate material was launched on 27th of March with the publication of the Byron Review into Children and New Technology. Dr Tanya Byron set out an action plan for Government, industry and families to work together to support children’s safety online and to reduce access to adult video games.

In order to improve children’s online safety, Dr Byron makes a number of recommendations including:

  • The creation of a new UK Council for Child Internet Safety, established by and reporting to the Prime Minister, and including representation from across Government, industry, children’s charities and other key stakeholders including children, young people and parent panels.
  • Challenging industry to take greater responsibility in supporting families through: establishing transparent and independently monitored codes of practice on areas such as user generated content; improving access to parental control software and safe search features; and better regulation of online advertising.
  • Kick starting a comprehensive public information and awareness campaign on child internet safety across Government and industry, and which includes an authoritative ‘one stop shop’ on child internet safety.
  • Setting in place sustainable education and children’s service initiatives to improve the skills of children and their parents around e-safety.
On video games, Dr Byron recommended a range efforts to help inform parents what games are right for their children, such as:
  • Reforming the classification system for rating video games with one set of symbols on the front of all boxes which are the same as those for film.
  • Lowering the statutory requirement to classify video games to 12+, so that it is the same as film classification and easier for parents to understand.
  • Clear and consistent guidance for industry on how games should be advertised.
  • Challenging industry to provide sustained and high profile efforts to increase parents understanding of age ratings and improved parental controls.

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