Concentrating purely on web filtering to keep kids safe online is a bit like looking for your keys under a lamp post because, although you lost them somewhere else, it’s lighter there. A third of children in Europe access the internet from a mobile device, according a new report:
33 % of 9 to 16 year-olds who go online say they do so using a mobile phone or other handheld device.
The report provides an interesting round-up of the different e-safety approaches as far as ISPs are concerned, but notes that the market has failed both in terms of providing protection measures and quality content:
Benchmarking of parental controls shows that most tools are only effective in English. New devices raise further problems: there are not many tools suitable for game consoles, tablets and mobile phones – the devices increasingly used by children to go online - and there are no solutions for users who access content on mobile phones or tablets using an application and
not a browser.
At the same time, there is not enough quality content available. According to a pan-European survey15, only 32% of 9-12 year olds feel that there are enough "good things for kids" of their age to do online.
Can youngsters look after themselves? It would seem that their ICT skills in this regard are seriously lacking. Here’s another extract from the report:
While by 2015 it is expected that 90% of jobs across all sectors will require tech skills, only 25% of young people across the EU self-report having "high" levels of basic internet skills
(such as use the Internet to make phone calls, create a web page, use peer-to-peer file sharing). Research shows that there is a serious digital skills deficit amongst Europe's children, despite the popular view that they are "digital natives". For example, 38 % of 9-12
year-olds in Europe who use the internet report that they have a personal profile on a social networking site. However, only 56 % of 11-12 year-olds say they know how to change their privacy settings. Research also found that the range of digital skills and online activities are linked. Therefore, developing safety skills may encourage other skills associated with other online activities.
The report is structured around…
four main ‘pillars’ that mutually reinforce each other; stimulating quality content online for young people; stepping up awareness and
empowerment; creating a safe environment for children online; and fighting against child sexual abuse and child sexual exploitation. It proposes a series of actions to be
undertaken by the Commission, Member States and the whole industry value chain.
It aims to create an EU-wide framework for e-safety, and to encourage industry to do more to provide engaging content online specifically designed for children of different ages. There’s a useful summary of its recommendations at the back of the report.
More information about the report, with download links, may be found on the Safer Internet website, on the page entitled Policy: Making a Better Internet for Children.