New Recommended Code of Practise to Protect Children Online

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A Prime Minister commissioned report has been published, setting a strategy for the safe use of the internet by children, a classification system for video games and the ban of sites encouraging suicide.

The report by child psychologist Dr. Tanya Byron, who appeared in the BBC series Little Angels, is the result of a six month study into the affect of the internet and video games upon children’s lives. The report stated that many children start exploring the internet and video games on their own from the age of seven or eight.

Describing children as “internet natives” and parent as “internet immigrants”, Dr. Byron said that “…parents’ concerns about the risk and safety of their children in the streets and outside has driven a generation of children indoors, where it could be argued they are being exposed to a new set of risks.”

The report proposes that:

– Social networking sites, such as Facebook, have clear standards on harmful content and privacy;

– There should be better information for parents on how to block children accessing unsuitable websites;

– A new video game classification system with one set of logos is needed and a description of the content and its context should be on the packaging;

– Video games should include guidance notes for parents, with informaion on pin codes and locks;

– A new law is required to make it unlawful to assist suicide through the internet.

The Children’s Secretary, Ed Balls, said that he accepted Dr. Byron’s recommendations and without making any specific commitments stated that he would “…take them forward.”

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