Press release

New guidelines to help industry promote internet safety

The UK Council for Child Internet Safety launches new guidelines for organisations and internet service providers to make sure parents and children understand online safety.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
  • TalkTalk the first Internet Service Provider to offer ‘active choice’ over parental controls.

The UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) today launched new guidelines for organisations and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to make sure parents and children get quality and consistent messages about internet safety.

The guidelines bring together the best internet safety messages for children and parents so that they receive consistent messages, whichever online service they are using. This follows concerns that parents are getting conflicting advice from different providers and providers are not doing enough to place messages at prominent points.

Privacy, grooming, sexual images, harmful content, cyberbullying and fraud are some of the key internet safety risks covered in the advice.

The advice is published on Safer Internet Day 2012, a global drive to promote a safer internet for children and young people, and comes as TalkTalk announce they are the first ISP to offer customers an ‘active choice’ over whether or not they wish to use parental controls. This will make it easier for parents to protect their children from harmful or inappropriate online content from whichever device is used in the home - PC, laptop, games console or Internet enabled TV.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly children grasp new technology, cracking it instinctively to hunt down their favourite website. As a parent it can be daunting to keep up, and worrying to know that alongside the fun, games and educational sites there are dangers they need to be protected from.

Safer Internet Day aims to address these concerns by empowering parents, helping them to understand the problems then arming them with the right tools to keep their children safe online. Getting this right is a personal priority for me. It’s important to have a joined up approach across the industry to ensure the information parents need get through effectively.

Tim Loughton, Children’s Minister and Chair of UKCCIS, said:

Many parents often feel bewildered and confused about how to protect their children from the potential risks online. They struggle with the plethora of advice and help on offer because the technology is constantly changing and they sometimes get conflicting advice. Children can also be far more internet savvy than their parents.

Whilst the internet is a brilliant educational tool, it can also subject children to inappropriate or harmful material. Children can also, through their behaviour, sometimes put themselves at risk. That’s why the guidelines produced by UKCCIS today, working with industry, will ensure parents and children are given the best internet safety advice. Through UKCCIS we are encouraging parents to talk to their children about the dangers of the online world.

The guidelines have been developed by industry for industry with 40 organisations helping to develop the advice. All four major ISPs - BT, Sky,TalkTalk and Virgin - as well as Microsoft, Facebook and many others have signed up to use it on their services.

Scott Dodds, general manager of Marketing & Operations, Microsoft UK, and board member of UKCCIS, said:

The internet is an important part of all our lives and the benefits of being online are enormous, especially for young people in education. But, as a father of two and a school governor, I also understand that there are parts of the online world which are inappropriate for children, just as there are places in every city or town where we wouldn’t want our children to go alone. Having access to clear and consistent industry guidance like this will help parents keep talking with children about their online experiences and, if issues arise, offer meaningful support.

John Grounds, NSPCC Director of Child Protection Consultancy, said:

Young people tell us that there is a clear knowledge gap between them and their parents. Whilst many parents think they know what their children look at online, children themselves tell us different.

The industry has moved a long way in recent years and we have to applaud the work they have done. The UKCCIS guide pulls together, in a clear and concise way, all the up to date advice and best practice out there. This will help parents take a more proactive stance on keeping their children safe online.

Parents are recommended to use filters and talk to their children about their internet use. And children are warned that if they come across upsetting material online or someone has made them feel uncomfortable they should talk to a trusted adult, and if necessary, make a report.

The guidelines are published as industry, government, charities and children and young people come together on Safer Internet Day. The Department for Education and Childnet are hosting an event with 80 children, parents, carers and grandparents. Specialists from Childnet and industry representatives including, Lego, Moshi Monsters, Club Penguin, Facebook, YouTube, Google and Microsoft will run sessions on child internet safety.

Evidence shows that whilst children are taught internet safety at school, not all behave safely online.

  • Ofcom found that 45 per cent of 12- to 15-year-olds understand how search engines operate but one third say they think all search engine information is truthful.
  • Ofcom found that around 20 per cent of 8- to 15-year-olds with a social networking profile have it set to open.
  • EU kids online found that 29 per cent of UK children have had contact with people they had not met before.

Safer Internet Day 2012 is celebrated worldwide to encourage users to “discover the digital world together safely”. Activity is taking place nationwide, coordinated by the UK Safer Internet Centre, focusing attention on empowering all generations to benefit safely from the opportunities that the internet offers.

Notes to editors

  1. Organisations that developed the guide include: Department for Education, Home Office, CEOP, Department for Culture Media and Sport, Get Safe Online, Childnet, Marie Collins, CHIS, NSPCC, Beatbullying, Ofcom, LSE, Kingston University, Virgin, BT, TalkTalk, Sky, Everything Everywhere, Moshi Monsters, McAfee, Dixons, UBIsoft, Mindcandy, BSI Group, BBC, Nominet, Flying Binary, Symantec, Microsoft, 02, Facebook, Club Penguin (Disney), UKIE, Mumsnet.

  2. UKCCIS brings together 180 organisations and individuals from government, industry, law enforcement, academia and charities, including parenting groups. Its aim is to work in partnership across industry and Government to deliver practical and effective solutions to keep children and young people safe online. The advice can be found on the UKCCIS website.

  3. The UKCCIS advice can be used by any organisation, ISP or business that provides internet services used by children.

  4. The UK Safer Internet Centre is a partnership of three leading charitable organisations, Childnet International, the South West Grid for Learning (SWGfL) and the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF). Collectively, these organisations have operated for 38 years in online safety; all working to make the internet a better environment, mirroring the conclusions of Professor Tanya Byron in her report to UK Government, by reducing availability (of illegal content), restricting access (where appropriate) and increasing resilience (through education, awareness and empowerment). All partners recognise the unparalleled opportunities the internet offers and actively encourage its positive use for social, leisure, economic and educational advancement. The partners all work towards the Childnet target; to make the Internet a great and safe place for children.

  5. UE Kids online research

  6. Ofcom media literacy study 2011 can be found on Ofcom’s website.

Published 7 February 2012