Improved controls needed to protect children from internet porn, bullying, MEPs say

Written by on October 10, 2012 in Europe, News - No comments

Internet safety must keep up with technological progress and the intensive use of the web by children, says the European Parliament’s culture committee in a resolution approved on October 9 2012.

To protect children, MEPs call for improved controls for mobile phones, filtering software, better co-ordination of hotlines and better education in the digital world for parents and teachers.

Children who go online at school or from their mobile phones or tablets are increasingly exposed to violent or pornographic content and risk being bullied or cheated online. Meanwhile, parents are often unaware of these new services, tools and products.

MEPs say action must  be coordinated at European level and they appeal to member states, public institutions and internet service providers to collaborate in order to provide better protection for minors using the internet.

Combating illegal content and harmful behaviour

MEPs recommend institutions and operators to improve their co-ordination at European level of hotlines and other contact points (for example for missing or abused children) for reporting illegal content or harmful behaviour and to cooperate with the police and juvenile justice systems.

The committee also supports the use of additional technological options to block access by children to content unsuitable for their age, and provide parental controls, filtering software or systems to check the age of children.

Service providers are also encouraged to promote self-regulation, particularly by drawing up codes of conduct for identifying and deleting illegal content.

Media education – a vital tool for educating children

The report by Silvia Costa (S&D, IT) says children must have the right to education in the media as an essential educational tool. The teaching of digital skills should be given priority in national education policies and be included in the curriculum, and must raise children’s awareness of online risks.

To ensure the dissemination of safe practices in using social networks, mobile telephones or video games, MEPs recommend programmes such as “European Schoolnet” or the Commission’s “Safer Internet” programme, which  help to increase awareness amongst young people, their parents and teachers. MEPs call for “Safer Internet” to be continued, with the necessary funding.

The resolution was passed by 20 votes to three, with five abstentions. It is scheduled for a plenary vote on November 19.

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