It’s not just bullying & porn: kids are equally upset by violence online

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A new study shows children are just as upset by depictions of violence, animal cruelty, and parental snarking online as they are by sexual imagery and bullying.

This research, conducted by the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) and slated to be revealed on Tuesday, Feb. 5, shows that Internet filters and parental controls for sexual content are only a half measure when it comes to protecting children who use the Internet.

For the study, UKCCIS asked 24,000 school-aged children as old as 16 about their online habits, including the question, “Have you ever seen anything online that upset you?”

According to the to-be-released report, entitled “Have Your Say,” the children’s answers ranged broadly from YouTube videos depicting animal deaths to Facebook reminders of broken homes.

However, the kids said they mostly used the web for playing games, doing homework, and social networking — all in all, mostly positive or at least harmless activities.

And while parents have recently voiced concerns to government officials about kids being able to access pornography while online, children seemed more likely to be disturbed by mean comments from friends or even family and images of violence on the web.

As researcher and academic Andy Phippen told The Guardian, “There is no silver bullet to crack child safety online. Government’s obsession with filtering is okay, but too narrow.”

The UK government’s most recent set of proposals focused on parental controls provided by ISPs, telecoms, OEMs, web services, and even retailers “to develop universally available, family-friendly Internet access which is easy to use” and to “improve online protections for the more vulnerable children.”

The proposal also seeks to better define what content is inappropriate — including upsetting, mean, and violent content — and develop better ways to identify and eliminate it before children are exposed to it.


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