What is to be done about Cybersafety for Kids?
It's the adults wot need educating
Education is the key to protecting children on the Internet - but in most cases, it's adults that need the schooling, not the kids. That was one of the main themes of a meeting held in the House of Lords yesterday which brought together children's charities, police and researchers to discuss child safety online. Although nothing concrete was put in place, it was clear that education - in much the same way as children are taught road safety or told not to talk to strangers - is the way most people believe they can prevent children from becoming victims of the "darker side of the Net". For it's not just unsuitable content that's a problem; interacting with the wrong people is perhaps the most worrying aspect of Net culture. Several organisations already publish guidelines for children on the Net. Mickey Mouse outfit Disney launched Safe Surfing 2000 earlier this year, employing an animated to character to turn both children and parents into Net savvy users. The British Government launched Superhighway Safety in 1999 year and is set to republish it this year. And SurfMonkey.com, a kids' portal, has its own list of dos and don'ts. What's clear is that there are many initiatives around - but none sticks in the mind. If charities, the police and Government want to educate a generation of school children about the Net, then there needs to be the cyber equivalent the Tufty Club or the Green Cross Code Man. These public information films are still remembered today by today's adults "of a certain age" - and it goes without question that their characters saved lives. Perhaps those backing yesterday's conference - Barnardo's, NSPCC, ChildLine, NCH action for children, The Children's Society et al - should pool their resources to create something that will be equally as memorable for today's kids. Clunk-Click. Every Net trip. Alright?
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