Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Children and the Internet

The petition is entitled Introduce emergency legislation to protect children in online chat rooms and the explanatory notes say
"Every day children are going on line and entering chat rooms. This can be harmles but we should all be aware that people are often not who they appear to be. I appeal to the Prime Minister to introduce emergency legislation so that all people logging into any chat room must produce proof of age/address etc. Although not foolproof, I believe this would be a step in the right direction. Also, the maximum penalty for online 'grooming' should be increased dramatically."

Two things, Mrs Woman. One: this is completely and utterly technologically infeasible. And two: protect your own sodding kids!

One network I inhabit is small enough that we can prevent under-sixteens from joining us: if they appear, we ban them. We're not ... child-friendly, necessarily. But for most online fora, this simply isn't practical. Nor yet is there any way at all for most technologies to restrict people's joining by proving who they are and where they live - and why the hell should they have to?

Parents (and guardians) need to take responsibility for the children they're responsible for. If you don't understand the technology well enough to install NetNanny software and the like, then don't let the kids have access to it at all unless you're in the room. Don't make it everyone else's problem, when it's your problem.

Of course, I can't quite see what good it would do to know exactly how old everyone was, and where they lived. I suppose that would make it easier to track them down after grooming and nastiness had occurred, but surely prevention by responsible parents is better than such a post-dated cure?

(I really, really, really need a "Nanny State" category. Only I hate the phrase "Nanny State" and can't think of a better nice snappy tag thing. Ideas welcome ...)


Aquarion said...

"The Ministry for Safety" or "Minisafe", possibly.

Melanie said...

I agree. If I have a child, the problems concerning her are only mine. Your post is really informative for me because I had no idea about NetNanny software. Perhaps, I am so called dummy