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Today is Safer Internet Day #MMORPG #UKCCIS

Safer Internet Day

Today is Safer Internet Day. This year’s topic is ”It’s more than a game, it’s your life” and the aim of the initiative is to promote safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile phones, especially amongst children. The website reports some interesting statistics:

  • Gamers spend on average 8 hours weekly playing online.
  • Young people sleep 2 to 3 hours less per night than 10 years ago.
  • In January 2010, 18 million accounts were registered on Second Life.
  • Facebook reports more than 500 million active users.
  • Users spend 700 billion minutes on Facebook each month.
  • 13 million players of World of Warcraft (WoW), the world’s largest MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game).
  • MMORPGs generated $1.5 billion in subscription revenues worldwide in 2008, forecast to reach $2.5 billion by 2012.
  • Up to 250,000 players are simultaneously online on WoW.
  • Transactions and sales of virtual goods in virtual worlds were estimated at $18 billion in 2009.

Its is amazing but I can identify with many of these bullet points. My kids spend far more than 8 hours online playing MMORPGs (it is a truly great acronym). All my kids are on Facebook even though two of them are below the recommended age limit. I vet their friends lists and have the logon details of the youngest who is not allowed to post photos. All his spare cash goes on online games – and we are talking £40 a pop here which is truly irritating as a parent (thats about fifteen pints of beer in real money! 🙂 ).

Parents need to jointly develop a survival strategy here. It only takes one to let the side down and let their kids have free rein to spoil it for the lot of us.

Note in connection with Safer Internet Day, Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, published the results of two complementary surveys that indicate that only 21% of UK individuals who live in a household with dependent children use parental control filtering software. This is higher than the EU average of 14% but considerable lower than the results of the EU Kids Online survey that was published a couple of weeks ago and reported that 54% of UK parents (28% across the EU) use parental controls or other means of blocking or filtering some types of websites.

The UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) has published a “Good practice guidance for the moderation of interactive services for children” which you might want to take a look at.

Publicising Safer Internet Use is very important and I suggest more needs to be done to educate parents on what they might be able to do to help themselves. This is particularly important in the light of the fact that politicians are constantly trying to take control of the internet “for our own good“.

PS one fact that coaught my attention in the EU report was that in the EU2 in 2010, almost one third of individuals (31%) who used the internet in the 12 months prior to the survey reported that they caught a virus or other computer infection resulting in loss of information or time during this period.

PPS thanks to ISPA for drawing my attention to these data.

And finally – I have to say were are entering a truly great era for acronyms – MMORPG!!!!!

Business online safety

EUROISPA paper on Online Child Exploitation

EUROISPA has published a position paper on online child exploitation. The paper contains three key arguments:
1. Full support for professionally operated hotline:

  • Governments should concentrate on developing a clear legal and judicial framework.
  • The public must play an essential role in the reporting to the police or local hotlines of suspected child sexual abuse material as ISPs cannot in any way monitor the Internet.
  • Hotlines’ network should be further developed within the European Union and promoted abroad.
Business online safety

UKCCIS Summit today

UKCCIS was launched last year by the Government following the Byron Report and to an excited fanfare. Today sees the first UKCCIS annual summit and on the BBC news this morning is the announcement that lessons in using the internet safely are set to become a compulsory part of the curriculum for primary school children in England from 2011.

There’s nothing on the UKCCIS website as yet but I’m sure it will emerge during the day. We should watch these proceedings carefully because this committee represents an important step in the evolution of how our society copes with the move away from the streets and onto the internet.

There has been a concern that during its first year of operation progress has been very slow and dominated more by the desire of Government to be seen to get quick PR wins rather than achieving anything of substance.  This would be a huge shame as this is important work.

Lets see what the day brings.

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child internet survey

The UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS – see a number of previous posts) has published a questionnaire to get the thoughts of stakeholders on what the measures for success (of the committe’s work) should be. The responses that are received will then be fed into the discussion of the Executive Board on 3rd September.

This activity was kicked off last December. I don’t know when the questionnaire was published but it seems that me things are moving very slowly in the world of child internet safety. This has always been something of a concern to me. Unfortunately UKCCIS has a huge task on its plate and when beurocracy gets involved things grind away at a snail’s place.

It isn’t just UKCCIS. I think there has to be a gear change in the whole country when it comes to matters relating to the internet. It’s about competitiveness of UK PLC and also the fitness of the internet as an environment to work rest and play.

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UKCCIS board meets

On the 10th of this month the UKCCIS board met  co-chaired by three Members of Parliament including Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.  Since its formation UKCCIS has concerned itself with putting together the structure of the organisation to take it forward and it has now announced a number of working groups.

These include “Better Education” (chaired by Niel Mclean of BECTA), “Public Information and  Awareness (Clive Michel of CEOPS) and Video Games (Brian Leonard, retired civil servant). There is also a group known as “Industry Standards” run by Amanda Jordan of Corporate Citizenship.  Apparently the name of this group is subject to change.  Don’t ask me why. 

Whilst the large committe and the high profile board chairs does send out a message undelining the importance of the activity and  its level of Government backing you do wonder about the amount of time they are spending deciding on the names of the working groups!

Previous posts on UKCCIS here.  Latest UKCCIS newsletter newsletter-no-5-march-2009.

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Ed Balls Starts UKCCIS Rolling

The first UKCCIS Executive Board meeting took place in December chaired by Ed Balls, DCSF Secretary of State and Alan Campbell, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for crime reduction at the Home Office. The fact that this Board is being chaired by such high profile politicians is an indication of the seriousness with which the Government is taking the safety of children when using the internet.

Set up to implement the recommendations of the Byron Report, the committee has initially prioritised a number of areas of concern and is in the process of setting up working groups to move the activity on.

The first four working groups will focus on the following areas: 

Industry Standards (title subject to change)
Aim: To develop clearer common standards (in the form of codes of practice or other guidelines) that are adopted, monitored and consistent with EU partners and are widely recognised as good practice. This should cover the areas identified in the Byron report but, over time, should also look at new issues that arise as technology and user habits move on.

Better Education
Aim: To ensure that children, families and the childrens workforce have access to consistent and comprehensive support and information that improves their knowledge, skills and understanding of internet safety.

Public Information and Awareness
Aim: To develop a comprehensive and joined-up public awareness campaign on internet safety for children and families based on consistent messages that form the basis of the one stop shop for all aspects of internet safety.

Video Games
Aim: To ensure that children and young people have a safer gaming experience and parents are aware of the issues and support mechanisms around gaming.

With the continually changing nature of the internet this is always going to be a work in process but at least a start is being made.

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Child Internet Safety

Dr Tanya Byron was at the Parliament and Internet conference yesterday. I was very impressed with her. Her report on child internet safety was published earlier this year and resulted in the setting up of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety already commented on in this blog.

The work that needs doing in this field has only just started really.

At an educational conference earlier this year at which she presented her report a senior educationalist in the audience asked here where he could get hold of a copy. After telling him it was on a website she was asked if she could send him a hard copy as “he didn’t do websites”!

It brings into sharp relief the size of the mountain to be climbed.

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UK Council For Child Internet Safety

The UK Council For Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) was launched today at the Science Museum in London. This initiative is supported by the Prime Minister to whom the council will report directly.

The council is made up from a number of government departments and in the words of the Department of Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) brings together a wide range of experts from industry, education, law enforcement and children’s charities.

The clear aim is to make internet a safer place for children. Timico is participating via the ISP Association. One of my fellow ISPA Council members is on the Exec Board of UKCCIS. You might ask why a B2B ISP might concern itself with child safety? The answer, simply, is that Timico has several thousand homeworking customers that use its ADSL connections.

It behoves us all to understand whether there are working practices that can be implemented that makes the world safer. I cannot believe that there is a single homeworker out there who would want their ADSL connection to be the conduit by which their children’s safety is compromised.

Moreover more and more large organisations now use Timico homeworker solutions. It is important that they understand that they are working with a partner they can trust to support their obligations for corporate responsibility.