Internet ‘not designed for children’ says new report

Do you agree?

The Children’s Commissioner for England has warned parents that the internet was not designed for kids, and having them online risks a whole host of issues.

Despite agreeing that the internet is “an incredible force for good,” Commissioner Anne Longfield said children were being left to fend for themselves online, as their parents remain hopeful they’ll avoid its common pitfalls.

In her report on the issue, Longfield called for kids to study “digital citizenship” – to learn about their rights and responsibilities online.

Children in England already learn about the internet and staying safe on it as part of Information Technology, but Longfield wants to make this part of the National Curriculum from the age of four.

Part of the Commissioner’s worries come down to “hidden clauses” on sites that waive privacy rights to content.

“Parents are always going to be on a losing battle which is why we need to take greater action to shift the balance of power towards children,” she told BBC Radio 4.

“This is about helping children navigate this world, they have got all sorts of rights that we have signed up to in the physical world. It is now time to sign up to those in the digital world.”

In a study included in the report, groups of 15 and 11-year-olds were tested on their ability to understand Instagram’s terms and conditions. Shockingly, none of the teenagers full understood what the terms committed them to.

However, after re-writing the terms, the same group of children understood them.

Anne Longfield said this was proof that more needs to be done to make the internet child-friendly.

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oost houses have a computer that's kept very busy during the holidays. This is a great time to check your children's activity on it. How much time are they spending online each day? And are they aware of terms like "cyber bullying"? Next time you walk past while they're online, sit down with your children and get involved in their internet security.