Uncontrolled access to new technology undermining childhood: UK Govt

November 14th, 2007 - 1:58 am ICT by admin  
Edward Michael Balls, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, said that only a few families were aware of the extreme images in many video games and websites used by thousands of youngsters every day.

He said that only one-in-20 parents knew that many children gave out personal details online, raising fresh fears that uncontrolled access to new technology might be undermining childhood.

Balls’ comments came as a major inquiry, led by television parenting guru Dr. Tanya Byron, was launched into the impact of the internet and violent video games on children.

Dr Byron has called for parents and children to submit evidence to the inquiry, which may lead to new curbs on children’s access to gory images.

“Anybody who has children will know that video games and the internet are a part of childhood like never before. New technology is giving kids opportunities to learn, have fun, be creative and communicate in ways that previous generations could only dream of,” the Telegraph quoted her as saying.

“But many parents still feel ill-equipped to help their children navigate this technology safely,” she added.

Dr. Byron will close her inquiry with the submission of a final report late next March. Till then, she will probe into the risks posed to children’s safety, and assess the effectiveness of existing controls.

The inquiry will consider “all potentially harmful or inappropriate material that children and young people might access or experience on-line or in video games,” said a document published by the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

The review will, however, exclude illegal internet content like the creation and distribution of child pornography, under-age gambling or inflammatory material because it is already covered by existing legislation.

Balls said the move was necessary in the wake of rising fears that children’s access to the internet was largely unchecked.

“We all value the great educational, social and entertainment benefits that the internet and video games technologies offer,” he said.

“However I know parents want to have information on how their children can take advantage of the positive benefits of these technologies, whilst being able to protect them against the risks. We know for example that 46 per cent of children say they have given out personal information on-line - but only five per cent of parents realise this,” he added. (ANI)

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