UK Government kicks off child online risk review

UK Government kicks off child online risk review

Dr Tanya Byron heads review of internet and video games influence

The UK government has called for an independent review of the risks associated with children being exposed to inappropriate material from sources including the internet and video games.

Clinical psychologist Dr Tanya Byron, who will head up the review, has launched The Byron Review to gather information and evidence.

The research will be conducted on behalf of the UK government for the Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

The call follows last month's promise from Prime Minister Gordon Brown for a government consultation on the effects of the media on children, including the internet.

"Anybody who has children will know that video games and the internet are a part of childhood like never before," said Dr Byron.

"New technology is giving kids opportunities to learn, have fun, be creative and communicate in ways that previous generations could only dream of.

"But many parents still feel ill-equipped to help their children navigate this technology safely."

Dr Byron hopes that the call will start a debate about how government, industry and society as a whole can support parents in guiding children in the virtual world.

The review will explore questions including:
  • What are the benefits and opportunities that new technologies offer for children, young people, their families, society and the economy?
  • What are the potential or actual risks to children's safety and wellbeing of going online and playing video games, and how do children, young people and parents feel about those risks?
  • To what extent do children, young people and parents understand and manage those risks, and how well are they supported in doing so?
  • What, if anything, could be changed in order to help children, young people and parents manage the potential or actual risks of going online or playing video games, and what are the pros and cons of different approaches?

"We all value the great educational, social and entertainment benefits that the internet and video games technologies offer," said Ed Balls, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families.

"However I know that 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 online, but only five per cent of parents realise this."

Culture Secretary James Purnell added: "It is essential that parents, children, the industry and the regulators engage with this review so that we can deal with inappropriate content and maximise the huge advantages the internet brings."

The Byron Review will also undertake more targeted consultations with children, young people, parents and gamers.