The UK Council for Child Internet Strategy (UKCCIS) was set up in September 2008 to implement the recommendations set out in the Byron Review, Safer Children in a Digital World. On 8 December 2009, UKCCIS published Click Clever Click Safe, its first strategy report (the Report) on its activities so far and its future objectives.

The Report is confident that improvements have already been made to the online security of children. For example, 82 per cent of children said that they had been taught about online safety at school. However, with over half of children who came across inappropriate content saying that they did not report it and nearly a third of 12-15 year olds having no privacy settings enabled on social networking sites, UKCCIS still has work to do.

UKCCIS’ achievements so far include overseeing the inclusion of material on online safety in the revised National Curriculum, introduced in September 2008, ensuring that schools inspections cover the teaching of online safety in primary schools and the provision of electronic safety resources for primary school teachers and parents.

UKCCIS is working with a number of organisations, including the Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre, social networking sites and information industry players. Its goal is to bring about "effective self-regulation" in line with the Digital Britain Report. UKCCIS is also working with the British Standards Institution to develop a kitemark for parental control software to enable parents to manage their children's online activity.

FUTURE OBJECTIVES

The Digital Britain Report identifies three aims for UKCCIS in the future:

  • Creating a safer online environment.
  • Giving everybody the skills, knowledge and understanding to help children and young people stay safe online.
  • Inspiring safe and responsible use and behaviour.

The Report notes that certain children may be more vulnerable online than offline because they are seeking out risky experiences, or because their technical skills are ahead of their ability to make sensible judgements about risk. In order to understand this better, UKCCIS has established a practice group to conduct research into the factors that affect children's vulnerability, how children develop and how that development affects their vulnerability.

COMMENT

It is clear from the statistics set out in the report that many parents feel that their children are more technically advanced than they are. They also have concerns about keeping on top of their children's online behaviour. UKCCIS aims to ensure that parents have access to simple tools to enable them to implement basic controls on their children's activities as well as empowering children by developing their understanding of the risks and giving them the skills to avoid and overcome them.