Internet Matters launches “Protect Their Curiosity” Campaign highlighting 21st Century children’s access to online pornography, violent videos as well as cyber-bullying and sexting trends.
Parents are being urged to play a more active role in keeping their children safe online, with the launch of a new campaign designed to highlight the importance of parental controls in the digital age.
A series of powerful video clips have been created by Internet Matters - a not-for-profit organisation backed by the industry’s biggest broadband providers BT, Sky, TalkTalk, and Virgin Media - highlighting the real risks of children using the Internet without parental controls.
The Protect Their Curiosity campaign urges parents to activate safety filters on all computers, search engines, apps, smartphones and tablets to encourage children to be able to explore the digital world in a safer environment.
Carolyn Bunting, General Manager for Internet Matters, said: “The internet is the most important invention of our time – if not all time. As parents, we should encourage our children to explore and enjoy the freedom of the Internet. But we have a responsibility to protect their curiosity and prevent them from seeing stuff they don’t want to see.
“Setting parental controls is easy, and means parents and children can benefit from the very best of the Internet without any of the worry. However, according to our research, more than half of parents haven’t done it. Enabling these will go a long way towards ensuring children are safer in the digital world.”
Four videos have been produced to give parents insight into how their kids behave online and how they react to seeing inappropriate content.
Child actors have been used for the project to show how “an innocent search can turn bad in one click” on topics of pornography, violence, cyber-bullying and image sharing.
Each video shows a child using a computer or tablet but focuses purely on their face. A web wireframe appears on top of the video, hinting to the audience what the child is viewing online. The child’s expression changes from curiosity, to nervousness and then to distress. No children were exposed to any inappropriate content in the making of the films.
In one of the films, a young boy innocently searches a video-sharing service for films about ‘Pirates’. As well as the expected content, he is able to easily find a video of Somali pirates being killed by private security firms and mercenaries.
Carolyn Bunting added: “The videos might be uncomfortable viewing, but we wanted to show the reality of how a child’s innocent curiosity can turn into a distressing experience in just one click. Kids want to use the web in safety. They don’t want to be scared of what they might click on. A big step towards this lies with parents switching on every parental control available.”
Ms Bunting said it was also hugely important for parents to sit down and talk to their children about wider issues of cyber-bullying and image-sharing, and staying safe when they are online:
“In the same way that parents teach their children how to swim, cross the road or ride a bike, they need to spend time with their kids on-line to ensure they are safe on the digital highways of the Internet.”
The Protect Their Curiosity campaign is being backed by mum Lizi Patch – who says her son was left distressed after seeing a disturbing sex video aged 11 which was being shared around the school play ground.
Mum-of-two Lizi said: “It is incredibly important for parents to be involved in how their children use the Internet. My son was deeply affected by something he saw online on his mobile phone and ended up changing his phone settings to block out any future distressing content. We now have regular conversations.”