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Does the Internet Kill Childhood?

Does the Internet Kill Childhood?

Time for a summer MBF Blog debate … accessibility to porn. What do we think? Is it a live issue? It’s a year since we first floated the matter of the safety of children on the web, with the title: Internet Safety for Children: Too Little Too Late?  (9 July 2012).

Well, a long-running campaign across sections of the British media looks set to bear fruit by the end of this year. Soon internet porn will no longer be just a porn in the game as rules are to be tightened.

Some of the UK’s most powerful ISPs have signed up giving a ‘clean feed’ to their customers. Users will have to opt-in explicitly to receive adult content.

Censorship Or Common Sense?

It is not being pushed as a restriction of anybody’s rights. It is defending the rights of children to be free of porn on the web through whatever device they access it within their homes.

The 8m customers of Virgin Media and TalkTalk will be at the vanguard of this new development. Sky’s 4.5m payers will be asked to specify if they want material unsuitable for under 18s.

It will be extended to wi-fi services on all public transport, sports venues and the high street itself. BT, O2, Nomad and Arqiva are thought to be among those introducing the initiative to their own clients.

Back indoors, parents will have the power to block ALL adult content from every wi-fi enabled device in a move being labelled ‘whole home’ solution.

That means kids’ X-boxes and the like, ereaders, iPods and everything will be free of what parents don’t want children to see.

It seems hard to imagine who would be against the move.

The Impact of Porn on Young Minds

Recent concerns have surfaced about the sexualisation of children at an ever-early age, of girls being forced to do things sent to them by boys that would shock all right-thinking parents and of how boys and girls are becoming desensitised to the value of relationships if all they are fed is porn which is often abusive and controlling.

I have always felt we should as passengers on the digital express pay more attention to personal privacy and loss if both freedom and individuality on and through the web.

With this one, it’s not that I want over 18 material specifically, I don’t. But is this a slippery slope towards somebody/machine/program in the future deciding what we will all have through our devices rather than us?

Maybe.

Figures Are Speaking Loudly

TalkTalk reckon about 6000 homes a day are choosing their ‘HomeSafe’ help program and they produce a quick video demonstration of it.

They now divide adult content into 9 categories which include all overtly sexual material, gambling, self-harming and actual suicide sites.
It has three simple features:

  • Kid Safe – Helps protect your kids from seeing inappropriate websites, with easy to set content categories
  • Virus Alerts – Helps stop viruses before they reach your front door and alerts you if you visit a suspected site
  • Homework Time – Helps prevent distractions during homework time by allowing you to set time limits to filter social networking and gaming websites

So, Where Is the Debate Then?

Well a number of issues actually arise:

  • Should wi-fi be absolutely filtered in public, or should young people have the chance to catch sight of porn over the shoulder of an adult on a train or bus?
  • Should users be charged more if they want adult content, or more if they don’t?
  • Who should pay for the cost of filters? Customers or ISPs?
  • Shouldn’t the search engines be more involved in all this (voluntarily or be coerced)?
  • How should we define children? Under 10s are surely different from 13-16s, aren’t they?

If they can drive a car at 17, should they have to wait till they’re 18 and old enough to vote and drink (legally)?

Should all parents have a right, a role of any sort in all this matter?

Background blogs to inform you (all safe and clean):

Too Big to Care About Public Opinion: How the Web Encourages Companies to Ignore What People Think, 20 May 2013

Snoopers’ Charter Stirs Up the Controversy All Over Again, 19 June 2013

Beware the Allure of the Webcam When Undressing in Front of Strangers, 1 May 2013

Compulsive, Addictive Behaviour Is the Price of the Device, 23 April 2013

Policing the Internet: Everybody Wants to Do It, Nobody Will, 10 October 2012

Internet Safety for Children: Too Little Too Late? 9 July 2012

Image: Keoni 101