Arab Today, arab today are parents to blame if kids view pornography
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Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today

Are parents to blame if kids view pornography

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Are parents to blame if kids view pornography

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Luisa Dillner: writer and parent Who\'s to blame if your child watches porn? It\'s the greedy internet service providers, say MPs from an all-party committee, who want ISPs to apply automatic filters to prevent access to adult material. To access porn, you would have to opt out. But before you think, \"Phew, job done\", Naomi Gummer, a Google executive, said last week that technology moves too fast for filters to work and that parents are to blame if their children watch porn. Now, I really don\'t want my children watching porn, but no filter is 100% effective. So must I still be vigilant 5% of the time? Can filters pick up inferences, so that, when my daughter types the name of a book (The More the Merrier) into Google images, we won\'t get references to group sex? I\'m with Ms Gummer. While I hate blaming parents for anything and sympathise with our learned helplessness around technology, I can\'t see ISPs as being more responsible for my children than I am. Porn is bad, but so is the hatred spewed out on the internet – the violent images, pro-anorexia sites. Can my children be protected from these things, too (without my involvement), while we\'re at it? I\'m not averse to help, but I\'m their parent and it\'s my job to protect my children. Part of that involves policing what they access. David Niven: former chairman of the British Association of Social Workers, now a child-protection trainer The question isn\'t about whether responsible parents should get involved in protecting their children from inappropriate exposure. It\'s about what our responsibilities, as a society, are to protect the vulnerable. The tens of thousands of children who are officially considered at risk of abuse from their parents rely on us to help them have a less risky childhood. If car manufacturers had no responsibility for safety measures – ie car seats for children, airbags, seatbelts – and it was entirely up to parents if they chose to use these, there would be an outcry. So what is the difference with social networking sites? We know the dangers; we know there are negligent parents. We have to protect the children whose parents can\'t or won\'t. You argue quite rightly that it is your job to protect your children, but it is not just your job. Otherwise, police, social services and any other statutory organisation would not have the mandate that they have. The social networking and search engine sites make massive revenues from their activity: they should spend and research more on safety measures for our children. LD I\'m a big fan of public health measures, research and the concept that it takes a village to bring up a child. But believing that our children can, with no parental input, be kept safe from the internet will give us a false sense of security. Using the car seats analogy, they and seat belts work because they are made to mechanical standards. A seat belt is a seat belt. But what are the mechanical standards for images and words to be? Who will judge them? I wouldn\'t want to argue against protecting the vulnerable. But does catching a glimpse of internet porn cause more damage to a child than being cyber-bullied? The ISP can only be part of a solution. It isn\'t in loco parentis, much as we sometimes use it that way. Have we really thought this through? What would be the liability of the ISP if its filters didn\'t work? Parental responsibility is as much to do with what children post as what they see online. The ISP can\'t help us with that. If we could automate our children\'s internet experience to be safe and palatable, we would also be forgetting something. It\'s the process of a parent saying \'no\' and explaining why not that matters even more than the denial itself. Trying to find porn is part of the teenage condition. Parents (and schools) need to educate children about sex rather than believe, incorrectly, that one fine day, they won\'t be able to find it on the internet any more. DN It\'s never been the case that parents haven\'t a role to play in safeguarding children online. But the gap between parental ignorance and teenage savvy is still huge. At a Bath Spa University conference last week, Facebook admitted that it had evidence of parents opening accounts for under-13s (the permitted age) and then lying about their age – even adding 10 years sometimes! Apart from this, they estimate significant numbers of under-13s have pretended their way to getting personal pages. We demand proof of age for drink, mobile phone contracts, cigarettes etc, so why is it beyond the wit and resources of social networks to come up with solid proof-of-age requirements? Use a few of the millions to fund schools to verify as well as enabling educational programmes. What about photo IDs with a 24-hour delay? How can we rely on and be confident when a significant minority of parents don\'t even password protect their own sites and publish all sorts of pictures of their children for public consumption and, more worryingly, as a handy source of material for paedophiles? LD I\'m glad you brought up Facebook. For a year I have been pestered with: \"X has got Facebook. It\'s not fair.\" Now my daughter is thirteen and a half, we\'ve set up her page together (with privacy settings), talked about Facebook\'s risks, and I insisted I knew her password. She showed me the photo she was putting up. If she does anything that I think is unsafe, I will restrict her use of the internet to the living room or take her laptop away. Yes, I know that some parents are relaxed about Facebook and collude with their children to help them sign up. These same parents will collude with their children to bypass any ID controls (should controls be possible). They may be the same parents who buy cigarettes and rent 18-certificate films for their underage children. Not all parents see controls as support. The assessment of risk plays a big part in this discussion. There is a risk to the internet but also a benefit, and it is an open door to some of the best and worst in life. A blunt control, I fear, will have limited effect. There is no equivalent to the nine o\'clock watershed for the internet. And any controls to safeguard teenagers may be better placed protecting them against their biggest risk – being killed on the roads. DN Safety of our young people isn\'t a competition. Whether they are killed on the roads or abused by ignorant or neglectful parents – both should require our full attention. It can\'t follow that because some parents like yourself take time and trouble to look after their children that all parents will follow that example. We have a duty to get involved in aspects of child safety, which should be an integral part of family life, the same as road safety – important but not smothering. So, whether we are talking about food content, equipment, sports and social clubs, cinemas, alcohol or pornography on the internet, we have a duty of care as a society. ISPs should spend significant revenue on making the internet an acceptable place for our young people. The internet is a fantastic resource for all – no question about that – but it provides a service and we, the consumer, are entitled to expect a continuing commitment to improved safety.

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