back to article Unsupervised Brit kids are meeting STRANGERS from the INTERNET

Brit kids are engaged in risky behaviour online, including arranging meetings with people they meet on the internet and playing games intended for older age groups, according to a new study. A survey of 1,162 primary school age children in the south east and Guernsey found that many were sharing personal information on the web …

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  1. Don Jefe

    I wonder what percentage of those who arranged to meet up with strangers are also in that seven percent who are online after midnight?

    So much of online behavior reports seem to fly right over the fact that a lot of the 'bad' behavior is due to a lack of parental oversight. Don't let a little thing like blaming shitty parents stand in the way of fear mongering though. It's much better to ignore that and interfere in the activities of those without kids.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      ALL education begins at home, parents may or may not have busy lives and schedules but there are no excuses for not taking care of and overseeing your children's activities.

      The interesting thing is that the majority of kids who do well at school have good interaction with their parents and family in the home ( based on my observation).

      Anyone who has not checked their kid's activities to some degree on social networking sites is not acting responsibly, no matter what their kids think of them interfering.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge
        Facepalm

        And who was the commentard which downvoted that post?

        Even the most non-technical parent can turn off the router at midnight. It's just a case of wanting to.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "And who was the commentard which downvoted that post?

          Even the most non-technical parent can turn off the router at midnight. It's just a case of wanting to."

          Can the most non-technical parent turn off 3G on phones too?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            turn off 3G

            Well if they can't manage to power down a phone and take it off little Johnny then they have bigger problems than those in this article.

          2. Dan 55 Silver badge

            @AC 9:49GMT

            Yes.

            If not by having a routine of handing it over at bedtime then some other way will do.

          3. MrXavia

            Then DON"T give the child a 3g phone if you don't trust them enough to use it appropriately.

            It is a parents responsibility to take care of their kids, and if my kids wanted to meet someone in real life that they met online, I would first find out more about the person before saying yes and accompanying them.

            I am someone who has met people off the internet a fair few times, each time has been a great experience and expanded horizons as I met people I would never have spoken to otherwise, i've traveled thousands of miles to see online friends and i even met and married one of them!

            So the world online is not always dangerous, but a simple set of precautions is needed to ensure safety, meet in a public place, take your parents with you if your a child/young adult or with friends if your not.

            Video chat in advanced, it is much easier to fake a photo and a voice than it is to fake a video chat, but be sure to video chat in range of others and during the day.

            and if your child is spending too much time online take the laptop/tablet/phone away from them.

          4. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            How about you install blocking software on said phones and tablets? Our young daughter not yet a teenager, has a mobile and some of the conditions are, unannounced instant spot checks by either of us to the mobile without any reason needed, parental blocking software installed on internet connected devices. PCs, laptops and tablets do not go into bedrooms for any reason, kitchen and living room only. Phone can go into bedroom for music as 3G has parental blocks on with the provider.

            No I can't stop her using someone else's machines outside the house but we have spoken to her and discussed exactly why these things are on and we have discussed what's out there and why blocks are in place. She's agreed that these are the conditions of use and she's never complained.

            Kids get internet safety rammed down their throats at school from about the age of 6, at least in my area's state schools. If I ask any kid of her age what you should never give out on the internet, most will know instantly that its personal details like your name, address and telephone number, school's name or your family's names. I think there are more adults out there that could do with some of the IT safety lessons kids get these days at school.

            In the end it's about making an effort to educate yourself, ensure things are set up , you discuss things with your kids, making sure they understand why.

        2. Shaha Alam

          router? is that the blinky flashy box thingie, i haven't dared to touch last time my sky tv box stopped playing on-demand movies?

          I know someone that typed "go to email" into google in an attempt to get to their email inbox.

          we techies have a habit of grossly overestimating what non-techies understand about everyday IT gear.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        How do you oversee the internet activities of kids who have smartphones / friends who have smartphones / access to libraries with computers / access to computers at school etc etc etc

        If you think you know what your kids are doing on the internet, and have it all "overseen", I can only assume you've forgotten what it's like being a kid, and trying to hide things your parents would disapprove of from your parents.

        Kids are better at this stuff than you are.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @ac 9:48 thinks 'Kids are better at this stuff than you are'

          - no they aren't.

        2. Don Jefe

          I'm not sure why you think kids have super powers. They don't; although each new generation likes to think they do. Your children are yours to raise as you see fit and if that includes managing their Internet access or their phones (or not giving them a phone at all) then they don't have a choice. Patenting isn't a democracy and if isn't done by committee. They will comply and it's your job as a parent to ensure that compliance.

          Besides, only the thickest and most isolated parent can't outsmart their offspring. If your kids are managing you then you're doing something terribly wrong. Most well rounded adults were far more managed than they realized as children. You didn't get away with nearly as much as you think, you were just allowed to think that: Builds a sense of independence you see.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @Don Jefe 10:46

            "Your children are yours to raise as you see fit"

            "Your children are yours to raise as I, Don Jefe, deem appropriate."

            FTFY ...

            1. Jim 59

              Re: @Don Jefe 10:46

              Read the post again. The Don gave no opinions on how to raise offspring, he just pointed out that parents are stronger than their children.

              1. Ted Treen
                Flame

                Re: @Jim 59

                "...he just pointed out that parents are stronger than their children..."

                Here in the UK, it would be more accurate to say "...parents should be stronger than their children...".

                Unfortunately, it isn't always so:- whether you approve of my wording or not, no-one can deny that we now have a significant percentage of parents who, possibly following the example of their own parents, have never shown or indeed found it necessary to show any responsibility for anything in their lives.

                Naughty? it’s not your fault; you suffer from ADHD.

                Fat/Obese? it’s all the fault of those evil fast-food merchants.

                Unsuccessful in life? None of it is your fault (even if you ARE a lazy sod) – it’s your parents’/school’s/employer’s fault.

                Can’t be arsed to think? Not your fault (see above) – the nice man/woman on the telly will do it for you.

                If such won't even consider accepting any responsibility for their own lives, how the hell can we expect them to accept the heavy responsibilities of parenthood? Far, far too much personal responsibility has been removed from the individual by an intrusive, controlling nanny-state.

                This is a definite "cause & effect", and until we address the cause, the effect will grow.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Patenting isn't a democracy

            You're telling me, if it were most of the patents would never get accepted.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          How Old Were You When You Were Born?

          @ac 9:48 'Kids are better at this stuff than you are'

          That'll be the day!

          I remember being a child. I'm sure most of us do and also remember the stuff we got up to trying to "outwit" our parents/elders. What we, as children, didn't realise was that our parents/elders also remembered being the same age and getting up to similar stuff. So we failed, just because our parents/elders sometimes didn't let on that we'd been tumbled, didn't mean we had succeeded or were smarter than them.

          If you're one of those who subscribe to the strange idea that modern children are somehow magically different (smarter) than we were at their age, then you're fooling no one but yourself.

        4. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Why does your primary school kid have a smartphone?

          And to be honest, if they are relying on getting online through a 3G connection, in the small hours of the morning, they're more likley to fall asleep waiting for their phone to load a page than manage to get up to anything naughty.

        5. Shaha Alam

          totally agree.

          the kids, they live and breath this stuff. much like how our parents depended on us to program the video recorder, we're gonna depend on them to help us understand computers.

          those of us in tech often misunderstand just how scary all this technology malarky is to everyday folk. quite often they depend on their kids to understand how to use the internet. how're they supposed to control internet access when the kids already run rings around them?

          1. BrownishMonstr Bronze badge

            To be fair, they don't make "dumb" phones like they used to. The ones now are, perhaps, designed more for the ageing society than any other and if you can remember what it was like in school, you wouldn't want a phone that was ugly and uncool.

            1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

              "... and if you can remember what it was like in school, you wouldn't want a phone that was ugly and uncool."

              And, just like when I was at school, it is either ugly and uncool or nothing. No negotiation at all.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "The interesting thing is that the majority of kids who do well at school have good interaction with their parents and family in the home ( based on my observation)."

        Just how many parents and families have you observed in their homes?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Don't let a little thing like blaming shitty parents stand in the way of fear mongering though. It's much better to ignore that and interfere in the activities of those without kids.

      Nope, I can't see any calls in the article to interfere in the activities of anybody, only something about a strong call to action for parents. Go on admit it, you never made it all the way to the end of the article, and assumed there was some call for government/regulator/police action?

      1. Don Jefe

        A defined call to action was not necessary. This report is ammunition for those who would manage your life. There is absolutely no other reason for such a report to exist. It is custom tailored as a citeable scientific study for politicians and policy makers to use in their arguments for greater control of the Internet.

        Admit it, you never learned to assess content in context did you? It is a rather valuable skill to have. You should practice until you get at least somewhat competent.

  2. Pete 2

    Good advice

    > Bringing the family computer into the living room

    ... for 1995. However technology, mobile phones and tablets have rendered it useless (and you have to question the clued-in-ness of those people still offering this sort of advice).

    Basically, telling children about abstract threats doesn't work. Even getting them to pay attention to simple road-crossing instructions is hard. Consequently telling them that the internet is full of baddies, when they know from their first-hand experience that it isn't just kills your credibility.

    Maybe what we need are a few modern-day fairy tales. Stuff like the original Grimm Bros. material: cooking children in ovens and the like (Hansel & Gretel, before it got watered down). Though since kids are so inured to "horror" from zombie-TV, video games and modern media, it's difficult to know what would induce enough fear of strangers, without scarring the little darlings for life.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Good advice

      You tell them a story about how a local kid met up with someone they'd only met online before, and were forced to listen to Barry Manilow records, while wearing uncool trainers and eating vegetables. That ought to do the trick...

    2. Natalie Gritpants

      Re: Good advice

      So you're saying let them have phones and tablets and just tell them stories to keep them safe? My kid is stuck with the family PC until after primary school. My kid has been trained to lie about age/sex/location as routine. Other kids may have phones etc. but they usually also have crap parenting too.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Good advice

        Hi Natalie,

        Bet your kids do everything they're told, don't they?

        It's only other kids, the kids with crap parents, who try to get round mum being really really mean.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Good advice

        "My kid has been trained to lie about age/sex/location as routine."

        Lie about their gender?

        So your son is pretending to be 30 year old woman from Glasgow.

        Actually, that will put them off. (I'm from there, so I can joke about it)

      3. Jim 59

        Re: Good advice

        Agree with article. I don't have children but if I did, internet access would be from the downstairs family PC only. Implementing that might be tricky for the "man in the street" but anyone in this forum could do it using their IT skills IMO.

        Also tell your kids from an early age that everything in the PC/internet is recorded. Which is largely true. Root user sees all etc. etc.

    3. M Gale

      Re: Good advice

      Or even better, you just don't give an under-11-year-old a smartphone. This is Primary School age children here. Unless it's been blocked from outgoing calls to all but whitelisted numbers, blocked from all Internet access asides whitelisted sites, and blocked from installing anything whatsoever, why would you give a smartphone to a pre-teen? And in that state, isn't it just a really expensive version of a DS?

      Yes, yes I know, but all the other kids have got one, etc, etc. All the other kids also apparently have an Xbox, PS3 *and* their own 50 inch telly in their bedrooms. Oh and all the other kids' parents let them stay up past Midnight, and all the other kids probably have nipple piercings and tattoos, whatever. Some things change, but some things most definitely stay the same.

    4. Suricou Raven Silver badge

      Re: Good advice

      If you even *can* tell them. The great taboo says you can't openly talk about anything sexual with children around, which raises the great prospect of trying to warn children against something without actually saying what it is.

      There's a cartoon series called 'Dino Squad' that attempted to do just that. The result was the 'space whale aesop' form of failure: The intention is to show children a certain action is dangerous (sharing personal information online), but the writers were only able to achieve this by giving the action in the show some unrealistic and ridiculous consequences (If you share information online, the evil velociraptor will use it to track you down and attack you).

      1. wowfood

        Re: Good advice

        I remember years ago, every childrens TV show had a bit at the end with "friendly advice" etc for children. I remember a couple of them. Green cross code. End of a superted episode, spotty saw somebody over the road and ran out to cross, nearly got hit by a car but superted saved him. Followed by a lecture to stop look and listen before crossing the road, because superted might not always be there to save you.

        And sonic the hedgehog having a bit on stranger danger. If somebody touches you in a a private place, or makes you feel uncomfortable, run to the nearest adult you trust. etc etc.

        This wasn't just on one or two shows. Every childrens show I recall had this. Nowadays there's almost nothing on TV covering thsi stuff, so I'm really not surprised kids aren't learning anything about stranger danger etc. Sadly they're more likely to listen to their heroes on TV than their parents.

  3. Ralph B

    No worries

    The kids all carry knives, don't they?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No worries

      Well I did, I had a pen knife since about 6, used to keep it in my pencil box, was a tiny thing, only really good for cutting paper, but damned handy when we did any crafting as school knives & scissors were never sharpened.

      By secondary school I carried a swiss army knife, never thought anything of it, very handy thing to have on me.

      And now I usually have a Leatherman multi-tool on my person, or at the very least in my bag/car, I think going anywhere without a multi-tool is an idiotic idea... Just because some people carry a knife as a weapon that should not stop me from carrying a tool for emergencies.

      1. Don Jefe

        Re: No worries

        Carrying a pocket knife used to be something every young boy and man did. Somehow that's dangerous now...

        Last Christmas shopping season at a sporting goods store I watched a young man (early 20's) slice his thumb open 'testing the blade' on a new knife. I was stunned at what he was doing and the best/worst part was that he got angry at the clerk because it was somehow his fault. Only an uneducated fool would have done what he did; the people who raised him had failed him by not educating him about something 'dangerous'. Oh well, I guess ER doctors have to get their patients from somewhere.

  4. bigtimehustler

    To be honest, im just fed up of the discussion of online safety, if parents let their children go online unsupervised then they get what they get. In much the same way i would wonder why your letting your child wonder the streets at 3am.

    1. Khaptain Silver badge

      Now we are getting to the real point.

      Online Safety is moot - the internet is not a dangerous place per se.

      The usage of the internet "can" be dangerous though, it's similar to a loaded gun, as long as you don't touch the trigger it won't go bang.

      How many parents would give their kids a loaded gun to play with, without any supervision or training ?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Now we are getting to the real point.

        just let little Johnny go on Facebook and watch a beheading or two ?

    2. Lamont Cranston

      " then they get what they get"

      But to accept this is to accept punishing the children for the failures of their parents. Not really acceptable, in my book.

      1. bigtimehustler

        Re: " then they get what they get"

        Unfortunately that is how life generally is when your a child, if you don't have good parents then you suffer the consequences, this has always been the case. In the past the outcome was usually that you got killed by something in nature that attacked you because your parents where not looking out properly. These days, the risks are far reduced, but to some extent they still exist and always will do. It isn't the responsibility of society to look after everyones children because some parents are less than adequate at it. Natural selection generally solves this issue over time.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: " then they get what they get"

          bigtimehustler,

          We evolved as groups. As happens it was the duty of all society to look after children. This was probably one of the reasons that humans did so well. The parents, who tended to be younger, could wander off hunting for food, while the older folk could look after the kids and do whatever early agriculture they were into. Probably a gross simplification - but it'll do. So it was probably granny and older siblings whose job it was to stop the kiddies from eating those tasty looking poisonous berries. As well as the dislike of bitter-tasting things, built into most children, then goes away as they grow up. But if the group as a whole failed to nurture its children, then it was likely to get out-competed by the one just over the veldt, that did.

          The development of the 'nuclear family' and the raising of children being the sole responsibility of the parents is mostly quite a new thing. When most people lived in small communities that barely changed over decades, it tended to be seen as the duty of the whole village/street/whatever to raise the kids. Certainly that was still true in 1940s / 50s South London, where my Mum said that you couldn't get away with smoking on the top deck of the bus, because there was always a friend/neighbour/relative around who'd spot you - and it would eventually get back to your parents.

          Society has changed. In some ways for the worse, with less sense of community. But then that whole community of everyone living in each others' pockets could also be pretty stifling. We're currently undergoing big changes in society, and we tend to be slower to adapt to those changes than they happen. So who knows what family life will be like in 30 years, or what relationship there will be between state, community, extended family and close family?

          We don't want 1984 or the government issuing breeding licenses. We probably also don't want a free-for-all. It's all rather complicated I'm afraid.

  5. Eradicate all BB entrants

    Parents have always let kids .....

    ....... play and watch 18 rated media. When working in retail I don't think a week went by without an argument with a parent because I refused to sell them an 18 game or video. I tried explaining that as their child had picked it up, brought it to the counter and said 'This is the one I want' it was still illegal for me to sell it as I knew it was intended for someone under that age.

    Most parents simply don't give a shit, if it shuts the kid up it is acceptable. What I found deplorable was they didn't even look at the item. My son is 11 and I occasionally let him watch a 15 film, but within reason (and to be honest if the Monty Python films were resubmitted today they would likely get a 12A) and its something I have seen and deemed acceptable.

    I admit I was tempted sometimes. 'You want your 8 year old watching Event Horizon? Sure .... why not, won't be me losing sleep'.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Parents have always let kids .....

      But it ISN'T illegal to sell an 18 DVD to the parent of a child, even if the child brought it to the counter first.

      It isn't illegal to sell the kid's parent a DVD, because you think they'll let the kid watch it. That is not illegal.

      If you were selling the parent cigarettes, or alcohol, believing they'd then give it to the underage kid, that's illegal. Selling the parent a DVD you think the kid might watch is not illegal.

      If you think it is, point me towards a .gov site that makes that explicit. I can point you to others that make it clear it's illegal to sell cigarettes and alcohol on that basis, but make no similar prohibition for DVD sales.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Parents have always let kids .....

        For instance;

        http://www.underagesales.co.uk/legislation-details-page/videos-dvds-legislation

        Where does it say it's illegal to sell a DVD to the parent of a child, buying it on behalf of the child? It doesn't say it anywhere.

        Compare to similar legislation for alcohol;

        http://www.underagesales.co.uk/legislation-details-page/alcohol-legislation

        Where there's a section that reads;

        "151Delivering alcohol to children

        (1)A person who works on relevant premises in any capacity, whether paid or unpaid, commits an offence if he knowingly delivers to an individual aged under 18

        (a)alcohol sold on the premises, or

        (b)alcohol supplied on the premises by or on behalf of a club to or to the order of a member of the club.

        (2)A person to whom subsection (3) applies commits an offence if he knowingly allows anybody else to deliver to an individual aged under 18 alcohol sold on relevant premises."

        So it's not surprising you consistently got into arguments with parents trying to buy 18 rated DVDs, because you kept telling them what they were trying to do was illegal. When it isn't.

        Wonder how many people you misinformed / annoyed doing that?

        1. Eradicate all BB entrants

          Re: Parents have always let kids .....

          AC's selecting selective facts to prove a point?

          Did you even read the page you link to? The bit that says it is an offence

          (1)Where a classification certificate issued in respect of a video work states that no video recording containing that work is to be supplied to any person who has not attained the age specified in the certificate, a person who supplies or offers to supply a video recording containing that work to a person who has not attained the age so specified is guilty of an offence unless the supply is, or would if it took place be, an exempted supply

          The bit that says how you may get away with it

          (a)that the commission of the offence was due to the act or default of a person other than the accused

          I will dumb it down for you as that seems to be required.

          My original entry, knowing that it was intended for the child, I could not use that defense.

          If the parent came up with the item, bought it then toddled off and handed it to little Jimmy then I am in the clear.

          While you can google I actually did the job for a number of years and had to attend the Trading Standards office when one of my co-workers got caught selling to underage kids. A few times. So I know how they find ways to prosecute you.

          As for the alcohol posting, learn your legislation before posting to the internet. As it is perfectly legal for someone who is 16 to be served with alcohol in a pub in certain circumstances, or it was when I took my licensing exam (passed, full marks, it is really easy).

          My new term for stupid people will be AC from now on.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Parents have always let kids .....

            " Did you even read the page you link to? The bit that says it is an offence

            (1)Where a classification certificate issued in respect of a video work states that no video recording containing that work is to be supplied to any person who has not attained the age specified in the certificate, a person who supplies or offers to supply a video recording containing that work to a person who has not attained the age so specified is guilty of an offence unless the supply is, or would if it took place be, an exempted supply

            The bit that says how you may get away with it

            (a)that the commission of the offence was due to the act or default of a person other than the accused

            I will dumb it down for you as that seems to be required.

            My original entry, knowing that it was intended for the child, I could not use that defense."

            Yes, I read it. You don't appear to be able to. Neither do the Trading Standards people advising you.

            There's no need to "use that defence", because you haven't committed the offence they're prohibiting.

            It say it's illegal to supply a DVD "to any person who has not attained the age specified in the certificate, a person who supplies or offers to supply a video recording containing that work to a person who has not attained the age so specified is guilty of an offence"

            You wouldn't have done that. You'd have supplied it to the parent, who has attained the age.

            I'm sorry you find this hard to understand, but the other similar prohibitions make it clear it's ALSO illegal to supply it to someone who is buying it on behalf of a minor.

            This law doesn't.

            Please point me to the part IN THE LAW that says it is. Please.

            Who gives a shit if you can provide alcohol to a 16 year old in a pub? That's a separate exemption to the law, detailed in a part we're not discussing. What's the relevance?

            Why don't you tell me the law on breaking and entering too, in an attempt to prove you don't know what the fuck you're talking about, regarding DVD sales?

            1. Eradicate all BB entrants

              Re: Parents have always let kids .....

              The law is a framework, and while it does include specific sections just because it is not specific in other areas does not mean you can't be prosecuted under that law.

              Seriously though, you are an AC and an idiot. Downvote me all you like but please just STFU.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Parents have always let kids .....

                The law is a framework, and you can be prosecuted for things that aren't in the law????

                Don't talk complete and utter bollocks.

  6. John H Woods Silver badge
    Trollface

    Kids these days ...

    "Get in the van!"

    "No!"

    "The van's got wifi ..."

    "Oh, ok ..."

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Devil

      Re: Kids these days ...

      Well it's not like you can tempt them with puppies any more. They can see millions of those for free on Youtube...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Kids these days ...

        I suspect you're not British, otherwise the euphemism wouldn't have escaped your notice and you'd have known young lads can always be tempted with puppies.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
          Happy

          Re: Kids these days ...

          obnoxiousGit,

          Ah yes. Perhaps I should have said kittens?

          Actually I am British, but I thought puppies was more of an Americanism? Not the word that first comes to mind for me. Which I guess would be boobs. Perhaps it's a generational or geographical thing, and in need of a serious sociological study...

  7. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    Primary school age = under 11. How many 11 year-olds get the chance to meet new people unsupervised? Except at parties and school - or playing round their local road/park?

    I really struggle to believe that nearly 20% of them have done this. Unless they're finding the kids in their local area. I can certainly believe that some have, but I'm more prepared to believe they've misunderstood the question than that so many have done this.

    Certainly we could do with some proper research into what the kids mean by this. Do they mean they've met someone in another class at school, or a kid living on their street, or a friend of an existing friend first on Facebook, then met them in real life? Or have they gone off to meet someone completely unconnected with them - which is a whole lot more worrying?

    I know a few kids that age, and they expand their circles of friends in a way that was much harder before. If you've got a mate, you're going to see all their posts on Facebook, including the ones from friends that you may have never met. Say friends/relatives in another town. Now in my day, your only likelihood of ever talking to them was at a birthday, or if they came over to stay. And that usually wasn't time to build any kind of relationship. But with FB, you see their comments all the time, and can fire ones back. Then it's easy to be texting or Blackberry messaging - which can easily lead to phonecalls.

    I know a 10 year-old who's met people in meat-space after only conversing online first, but that was through support groups for blind kids. And the far more dangerous thing to his mental health is that he's also met JLS, Simon Cowell and Cheryl Cole. Poor kid''ll be scarred for life!

  8. Tsung

    Data appears to be mixed up.

    Why don't they separate truly risky behavior from virtual risky behavior?. Kids playing games rated 18+ sounds risky, but in reality isn't. There are a few 18+ games with material that is totally unsuitable for children. I wonder if the developers just aim for an 18+ rating (lots of swearing, some virtual blood) to make the game more desirable to children. Plus if asked most kids will say they have played it; even if they haven't.

    Out of the 20% of kids who arranged to meet friends they made online, how many of these friends ended up being "unsuitable". Like "I ain't Spartacus" said, how many are friends of friends?. From the sound of the research the kids are at least learning not to go alone.

    Out of those kids who spent 2hrs or more a night on the internet how many were doing their homework which seems like a requirement nowadays.

    Still education parents is a good thing, and needs to be done. It seems that they are too busy to keep an eye on what their children are up to. Move that computer into the living room and in the evening take the mobile devices too. :/

    1. Suricou Raven Silver badge

      Re: Data appears to be mixed up.

      Publishers have to aim carefully on age ratings. Too low and the game can be 'uncool' and less desireable, but too high and the difficulty of getting it can cut into the sales. Worst of all, get it into the top rankings and many retailers will just refuse to stock it, which is the commercial kiss of death. It's practically impossible to make money off an AO-rated game in the US just because no matter how much people want to play it, many won't have anywhere local that dares sell it.

      The rating systems can be silly. The US ESRB system in particular is very accepting of violence but very strict about sexual content. Look at the big fuss about GTA:SA and the 'Hot Coffee' hack. The game glorified violence and gang culture, provided an incentive to gun down innocent people, made a mockery of law enforcement and encouraged dangerous driving. Murder, mayhem, theft and guns-a-plenty - all that and it got an M rating. But as soon as it was revealed that there was a little sexual mini-game left on the disc that could only be accessed by patching the executable, and didn't even feature any nudity, it was instantly re-rated as AO.

      Running down people on the road in your stolen car? No problem! Crudely animated clothed sex that can only be reached by hacking? Think of the children!

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Data appears to be mixed up.

      Good point. I forgot to add that bit to my post above, about answering the question to be cool. My Mum was surveyed at school, aged about 14. So we're talking early 50s. And she said that she smoked, when asked, as did most of the kids. She even knew which brand, Senior Service, because she knew people who smoke those. But you had to say yes, because in the 50s smoking was virtually compulsory...

      None of them did, because they couldn't afford it. And would almost certainly have got caught, in that a relative or friend would have spotted them misbehaving at some point, and reported them to their mothers. Mum said that was the downside of the tight-knit communities that everyone looks back to. As kids, you could be disciplined by any plausible adult, and anything you did in public was likely to get back to your Mum.

      As happens she'd been buying tobacco since before she was 5, as her Mum sent her to the local shop to pick it up for her Grandad.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Data appears to be mixed up.

      Kids playing games rated 18+ sounds risky, but in reality isn't

      Agree. I was, what, six when I played Grand Theft Auto and I didn't turn out that bad. Though that may be more to do with the fact I used a "No Cops" cheat and just drove around as if I was chauffeur or. In retrospect, I was a sad, little boy with a wild imagination.

  9. Mephistro Silver badge

    Which proves again that:

    - Internet is a worse nanny than the TV.

    - Many parents nowadays try to replace parenting with gizmos.

    - A different -and probably bigger- subset of parents buckle too easily under peer pressure. "But everybody has/does it!" is only an argument for the lazy and the feeble of mind.

    Seriously, controlling children's online activities is a parent's duty, as much as feeding ans cleaning said children when they're too young to do it by themselves.

  10. wolfetone

    Good advice, 5 years ago

    Simply saying "move the computer to the living room" now isn't good enough unfortuntely. Children are now using mobile devices more so than a normal desktop PC. Parents need to be firm with their children and tell them to use the devices around their parents only, and the usual "people on the internet aren't who they say they are".

    However, parents don't do this for a few reasons. They won't admit it, but its simply that the technology they give their children is there to be used as a virtual nanny. Something to keep the children quiet while they watch Emmerdale or something else. The parent, really, doesn't want to have their child on the iPad in the living room because of the usual "Mom Mom look what I've drawn/done", which is inevitable with a child that uses something and creates something they are proud of. But when the parent wants some down time, this is a problem for them.

    However, if the child gets in to trouble about stuff they view on the same device (either they are bullying someone or they are arranging a meeting with someone off the internet), the parents then say that they don't "understand" the technology and that more should be done to protect their children. These same parents would NEVER (if they're any good at least) let their children buy pornography, watch violent films, let them stick a metal knife with their wet hands in to power sockets.

    I've experienced it twice with my "mother-in-law" and the girlfriends 10 year old sister. First time (and I've mentioned it here before) I caught the then 8/9 year old sister watching Miranda in her bedroom, and to me Miranda isn't acceptable for someone that young. Because of certain subjects, jokes, and the fact it just isn't funny. I told the mother, the sister denied she had, the mother let her off and didn't challenge her about it.

    The second time about 3 months ago I was babysitting the sister and she was on Facetime to her "friend". I knew some of her friends and thought nothing more of it. However, I was in the same room as her at all times and I became interested when the voice was a boy. So I evesdropped just to make sure he wasnt' older than her or wasn't totally local. Anyway, while doing the ironing the conversation turned to sex and I told her there and then to hang up and to not talk to him until I spoke to my girlfriend about it. I told my girlfriend, she didn't really know who the guy was, so she spoke to her mother. Turns out he's a boy in her class, but my girlfriend told her the conversation the sister had had with him. A big conversation followed with the younger sister and my girlfriend and mother in law, I wasn't there for it. But the girlfriend told me then was that her mother didn't understand how the iPad worked etc so it's difficult to police her daughters use of it.

    I hit the roof, I'm not a parent but judging by how my parents brought me up, if they didn't understand what it was I was doing or wanted to do, I wouldn't be allowed to do it/use it until they understood it and the risks involved. Call it overkill, I don't care. But that's what being a parent is all about. Protecting your youth yourself, not relying on a 3rd party to do it (bar teachers, obviously).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good advice, 5 years ago

      Come back when you have kids and lecture people about how they should raise kids.

      Why does everyone on IT forums think they're an expert on things they literally have never ever tried to do?

      1. Tom 38 Silver badge

        Re: Good advice, 5 years ago

        Why does everyone on IT forums think they're an expert on things they literally have never ever tried to do?

        I dunno, is it the same reason mumsnet and Claire Perry think they can tell us how to use computers?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Good advice, 5 years ago

          "Why does everyone on IT forums think they're an expert on things they literally have never ever tried to do?

          I dunno, is it the same reason mumsnet and Claire Perry think they can tell us how to use computers?"

          You're saying mumsnet users are the same kind of people who post on IT forums?

          That would explain a lot.

      2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Good advice, 5 years ago

        People certainly need to dial down the repetition of the bad parents use the TV/Internet/Games console as a virtual babysitter argument.

        In some ways that's good. When I was a kid, my Mum had to get cooking and cleaning done, plus sometimes be dealing with my brothers. Therefore at certain points I was expected to be able to amuse myself. Which is actually a healthy thing for a child. Kids need to be able to develop the ability to play, and sometimes that's interacting with adults, sometimes other kids, and sometimes on their own. It's all part of growing up and shaping your adult brain.

        Obviously there were no tablets for me to play with. So I had to make do with toys. Mostly Lego and cars for me. Plus a bit of TV. There weren't kids TV channels and videos, so that was also naturally limited.

        There's nothing wrong with letting kids do the things they like. So long as they aren't doing only one thing all the time. I guess there is a problem now that kids can play computer games non-stop, or watch non-stop telly. Although I've never personally known any young kids that want to.

        The internet does present special problems, because it's very hard to supervise, and there are real dangers there. At least in the good old days, you were safe from the bullies in your bedroom. Now they can get at you on Facebook and by text. But parenting and dangerous things is nothing new to this generation. I was allowed out on my bike on the local streets, after I was proven able to ride it, and within set limits. Had I broken those limits - or proved unable to avoid cars, then the bike would have been taken away again. One problem is the people who refuse to learn anything about computers. They've decided in advance that it's too hard, and it's a new technology they don't like. Weirdly many people will say this, even though they buy online, research for personal and business reasons online and send many emails. And I guess that blind-spot can create parenting problems. As there are tools out there to help you manage younger kids online, before they know more than you about computers and can circumvent your rules anyway...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good advice, 5 years ago

      My parents let my on the computer unsupervised all the time, and I came out fine.

      Now, I must go and have hot online roleplay sex with an anthropomorphic canary.

    3. Lamont Cranston
      Facepalm

      Re: Good advice, 5 years ago

      There was probably a really good point in there, but I lost it when you got upset at the thought of a 9 year old watching Miranda.

      1. Jediben
        Trollface

        Re: Good advice, 5 years ago

        I concur. The thought of ANYONE watching Miranda is distressing enough...

  11. Crisp

    How are children still getting access to unsecured computers?

    I remember a time when there was a simple way to stop children from using computers that they weren't supposed to. There was a lock on the front panel that would disable the keyboard.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How are children still getting access to unsecured computers?

      Was that before they were available in libraries? Like, back in the early nineties?

  12. janimal

    This is exacltly why porn filters are bad

    I actually wrote to that total idiot Clare Perry about this exact issue.

    Porn may possibly do some psychological harm to children if they encounter it online, but that is nothing compared to all the other possible harms on the internet which can result in blackmail or physical harm.

    Parents should be left in no doubt that the internet is not a place suitable for unsupervised access by children, not fooled into thinking that because there are no nude pictures allowed through their connection that it is all fairies & ponies.

    1. M Gale

      Re: This is exacltly why porn filters are bad

      that it is all fairies & ponies.

      Actually, if you type "clopfic" into Google, you might find that's part of the problem.

      (And don't do it if you're at work, or if you're viewing it with, like.. eyes.)

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
        Devil

        Re: This is exacltly why porn filters are bad

        M Gale,

        That's evil. It's like walking up to someone and saying, "don't think of pink elephants". Now you've released temptation and curiosity.

        Although I'm pretty good at resisting. What is once seen, can never be unseen. Mind-Bleach does not exist. So far I've avoided goatse. Although I have been rickrolled, and I'm still getting over the trauma...

        1. wolfetone

          Re: This is exacltly why porn filters are bad

          M Gale,

          Here was me thinking my idea of scratch and sniff porn was a bad idea. Now, after Googling clopfic (Jesus, there's even YouTube videos about it), I realise that scratch and sniff could work and could become popular, especially in that market.

        2. Crisp

          Re: So far I've avoided goatse.

          Be grateful that no one has shown you lemonparty yet.

          1. wolfetone

            Re: So far I've avoided goatse.

            It's quite tame compared to tubgirl.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This is exacltly why porn filters are bad

        Clopfic? Is that what W. H. Smith has been clearing off its E-shelves?

  13. M7S

    The internet protection offered by BT OpenReach protects my 8yo from this kind of thing very well.

    No effing internet worth a damn.

    The downside is he cannot access the support website the school has for homework etc, we're all still headscratching over that one.

  14. bigtimehustler

    All of those people saying its not possible to watch their children any more because of mobile devices, are you all seriously missing the obvious? Don't get them a smartphone! If they are too young to understand the danger and you can't trust them (this is something for you gauge), then do not get them a smartphone. It isn't rocket science people!

    There are far too many people out there who just will not take responsibility for what happens to them and their children, it just has to be the way society is ruled that is at fault.

  15. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    "Brit kids are engaged in risky behaviour online"

    Well, some kids engage in risky behaviour. Most will get away with it, some will get into trouble.

    But, as I remember from my own childhood, some kids (including the undersigned) engaged in risky behaviour, most got away with it, some got into trouble...

    What's the difference - oh, that magic "online" thing, which apparently makes everything much more dangerous and sinister than, say, simply setting things on fire to see whether they will burn or go bang, or charging capacitors in the wall socket and testing how high would your fellow schoolmate jump when the said capacitors are unexpectedly discharged into him...

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm sure this will now be used to push further censorship onto the masses.

    Bad/fucking useless/lazy parenting really needs to be a fineable offense.

    1. bigtimehustler

      The easiest solution is for the government to just stop listening to pressure groups and actually gauging the general populations consensus instead. These days the only things that get action taken are those the people who shout loudest talk about, those that shout loudest are invariably any one of the pressure groups out there that represent a minority opinion.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maybe

    Since kids are far from stupid, they are actually meeting up with some other kids their own age they met fragging some muthafucka in CoD ... Using the internet like adults... The article does not say they are meeting with the current society boogeyman; a pedo.

    1. Tsung
      Joke

      Re: Maybe

      Well of course not, the kids who met with the boogeyman weren't there to ask.

  18. NomNomNom

    A few years back when I was grooming kids I was shocked to find out just how many of them are allowed to use the internet unsupervised by their parents. 'Where's your mum and dad?' I would ask, but they never wanted me to meet them. Sometimes I despair at the direction society is heading. I blame that famous singer woman and the ubiquity of violent video games.

  19. John H Woods Silver badge

    I prevented my daughter accessing online porn ...

    ... I didn't want to give her unreasonable expectations. A whole generation of girls are growing up thinking you can get a plumber or washing machine repair man round about five minutes after phoning.

    1. Anonymous Noel Coward

      Re: I prevented my daughter accessing online porn ...

      Not to mention that the plumber would do more than your typical, British plumber.

      Like fix the sink.

      1. Lamont Cranston

        "Like fix the sink"

        That's some special interest porn, right there.

    2. bigtimehustler

      Re: I prevented my daughter accessing online porn ...

      If she was offering that type of payment...you probably could! hah

  20. John Sanders

    The solution is clear

    We need to think of the children and close the interwebs...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The solution is clear

      Or stop reproducing.

      That works well.

  21. Spider

    If parents are willing to abdicate responsibility for their children's safety to the clutches of the ever grasping state then they lose the right to complain when it brings up their children in a manner they objectt to.

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