The 2008 Byron Review “Safer Children in a Digital World” was written by Professor Tanya Byron and commissioned by then-prime minister Gordon Brown to report on internet and video game use by children in the UK with recommendations on how best to ensure their safety.
10 years on…..from Tanya Byron
“Ten years ago I was asked by Government to produce a report on child safety online, and consider what action should be taken to make the digital world a safe place for children. Much has changed over the last decade, but one thing has not: Government is failing to do enough to protect children online. I made 38 strong recommendations for action that urgently needed addressing to keep children safe. In four areas the landscape has changed so much that the recommendations are no longer applicable. But 53 percent of the remaining recommendations have either been ignored by Government or have only been partially followed through. What are the implications of this? We know that by age four 53 percent of children use the internet, and by the age of 10 almost half have their own smartphone. Yet online safety has not been made mandatory on the school curriculum and social networks are left to make up their own rules, without regulation from Government. Meanwhile the responsibility for keeping children safe online falls heavily on parents – who might struggle to keep up to date with the latest trends, or worse – on children themselves, who might feel peer pressure to prioritise online popularity over online safety.
Last year the Government pledged to make the UK the safest place to be online, and some progress has been made – albeit in a fragmented way. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s forthcoming Internet Safety Strategy will create a code of practice for social networks. But after ten years of social networks marking their own homework, that code is expected to be voluntary and will not include anti-grooming measures as part of its remit and under the new Data Protection laws the Information Commissioner’s Office is due to draw up rules that will give children extra protections online. This is an important step, but these rules will not be directly enforceable. The UK Council for Child Internet Safety was created as a result of my recommendations; but it will soon remove ‘child’ from its title and focus on general internet safety. Age verification will soon be introduced for pornography, but there are still no age checks for online gaming. That means children are protected from buying 18-rated games in shops, but can still download them easily online. We all have a part to play in keeping children safe. But that responsibility must absolutely start with Government and industry. I urge Government to take heed of this report. The online world moves too fast for Government to drag its feet for another decade.” Tanya Byron
DSL forum members can see the full report in our documents section (byron-review-10-years-on-report)