The filters are on so my kids are safe
After all, if filters are on, then kids can't find anything they shouldn’t, right? And kids always do what their parents tell them. They would never try to get around a filter, or share things on USB sticks. So if we switch on filters, we won’t have to talk to our kids about all those tricky subjects. What a lifesaver!
It’s really important to make sure that your children have the skills they need to navigate the web safely. In 2008 and 2010, Professor Tanya Byron looked at the risks that children face from the Internet and video games for the UK government. In her reports, Byron stressed the need for a mix of filtering tools and parental engagement, arguing that to place too much emphasis on the former could lull some parents into a false sense of security. (See Safer Children in a Digital World: The Report of the Byron Review, 2008 and Do we have safer children in a digital world? A review of progress since the 2008 Byron Review, 2010
Open Rights Group supports that approach and encourages parents to talk to their children from a young age about internet safety. For younger children, this may mean monitoring their use closely. For older children, it may be about setting agreements about the length of time spent online and which websites they visit.
There are alternatives to filters set by your ISP. It’s more effective to set filters yourself on each of your devices. This will give you more control over what you are blocking on each of your computers, phones and tablets.
What do young people think about filters?
We asked Professor Andy Phippen from Plymouth University to ask some Year 10 and Year 11 children about internet safety. Here are the questions and some of their responses:
Do you think filters will stop you from seeing this content?
"No, won't work, in my family I set the settings!"
"There are always ways to get around filters."
"It can't block Facebook or tumblr."
Do you think that there is stuff online that you shouldn't see?
"There's no way of avoiding it, people just need to be educated about what is right."
"If you start filtering some websites, where do you stop? It would be like China."
"If you suffer from anorexia you should be able to find support blogs"
What worries or affects you most when you are online?
“If you use the internet, you need to be your own filter”
“Viruses are main worry.”
“Things people do, people are cowards and take advantage of the internet, say things they wouldn’t say in real life”