Government and industry need to do more to protect children online: Byron

Parental controls on mobile phones should be improved to prevent children accessing unsuitable material online, according to Professor Tanya Byron.

Professor Tanya Byron
Professor Tanya Byron

Two years on from her influential “Safer Children in a Digital World” report, Professor Byron says Government and industry needs to stay ahead of advances in mobile phone technology and the increase in mobile internet access among children.

Professor Byron’s 2008 report led to the creation of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS), a coalition of government, charities and industry.

UKCCIS aims to educate parents and kids about the potential dangers of browsing online. It also promotes responsible advertising to children online.

The progress review also calls on the UKCCIS board to appoint an independent chair to provide better strategic leadership and keep up with the pace of change online.

Professor Byron says “good progress” is being made to raise awareness but “this needs to continue at pace”.

Her update comes as political and regulatory pressure on marketers to protect young children from irresponsible advertising grows.

Conservative Party leader David Cameron recently vowed to ban agencies that produce campaigns vetoed by the ASA from bidding for government advertising contracts for three years, while a Government-commissioned report by Dr Linda Papadopoulos recommended a “one-stop shop” website for parents to complain about advertising that sexualises children.

The ASA’s remit is soon to be extended to include all forms of online advertising following recommendations from the Advertising Association to extend the CAP Code to include marketing communications on brand’s own websites and social media pages.

Professor Byron’s 2008 report was cited by the Committee of Advertising Practice as the reason it introduced a new code to prevent ads for age-restricted computer and console games from appearing around programmes made for children.

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