Press release

Keeping children safe online after Christmas tablet buying boom

Government works with industry to introduce simplified content filters.

With tablet computers expected to be one of the top Christmas presents for kids this year, parents face anxiety over what their children will look at online.

The Government has been working with industry to help parents protect their children from inappropriate online content.

The big four internet service providers (ISPs) – TalkTalk, Virgin, Sky and BT – have all agreed to introduce network level filters that would cover all internet devices in the home.

Network level filters allow parents to limit their children’s access to adult content by making one universal selection. They no longer have to install filters on every separate device in the home.

TalkTalk and Sky have already made network filters available, while BT and Virgin will follow within the next two months.

A recent Ofcom report showed a dramatic rise in the number of younger children owning tablets. The use of tablet computers has tripled among 5 to 15-year-olds since 2012 (42%, up from 14%), and 28% of infants aged 3-4 now use a tablet at home.

Culture Secretary Maria Miller said:

“Many more children will be unwrapping smartphones and tablet devices on Christmas Day.

“ For parents and children, the internet is fast becoming part of everyday life at work, at school and socially but parents are rightly wary about what children are being exposed to online.

“ We have worked with industry to make it far easier for parents to be confident their children are being protected.

“ Parents need to think about putting filters on their accounts and finding out more about keeping children safe online.”

The four main ISPs – who supply internet connections to almost 9 out of 10 UK homes – have also agreed that all new broadband customers will have the settings for family friendly filters automatically switched on.

And by the end of 2014 all existing customers will have been presented with an unavoidable choice about installing family friendly content filters which the user will not be able to skip.

Only the adult account holder will be able to change the filter settings.

Outside the home, all mobile operators have agreed to ensure that adult content is filtered and users will have to prove they are over 18 to switch them off.

Family friendly filters are now being applied to public wi-fi by the six companies that provide 90% of public wi-fi across the UK.

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