Nicky Morgan: Parents use Boxing Day to remind kids about online safety

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Nicky Morgan says Boxing Day is an opportunity for parents to remind children about online safety.

The Education Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities has written a column on the subject for The Daily Telegraph.

She said: “Kids love technology, and it opens up a world of opportunities and excitement. We want to encourage this but it’s vital that parents have applied the right parental controls to ensure their children are protected. Many parents I meet tell me how they feel in the dark about how and what things they can do and often I’m not that different.

“That’s why I’m calling on every parent to use new whole home parental controls as well as online resources such as parent port and Internet Matters to help them keep their children safe online.”

The senior Tory continued: “To support this I have today announced an extra £500,000 funding for the Safer Internet Centre, to ensure schools and teachers are also equipped to teach our young people about how to be safe online and added internet safety to the curriculum to ensure every child is aware of both the benefits and dangers posed by the internet.”

Mrs Morgon spoke of the need to protect children from online bullying.

She said: “Bullying has also changed and as a parent it’s even harder now to know whether your child is being bullied, or whether your child is teasing or being disrespectful to someone on the internet.

“The arrival of technology at Christmas is also a good opportunity for parents to talk to their children about how they use the internet and social media.

“So please pause for one moment this Boxing Day, once you’ve cleared away their gifts and wrapping, to have an open and honest conversation with your children – setting out the opportunities they provide and what they can do to keep themselves safe.”

Over the past 18 months the Coalition has sought to improve online safety for children with a number of measures. The Government in 2013 introduced requirements for internet service providers (ISPs) to automatically block all adult content as part of default settings.

However, successfully implementation has been fraught with difficulty, with non-pornographic LGBT and sexual health content frequently falling fowl of the filters.

In December 2013, PinkNews revealed that ISP TalkTalk had prevented access to the website of LGBT+ Liberal Democrats through its HomeSafe filter.

Among the content blocked was a feature about Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg speaking to PinkNews.

TalkTalk subsequently apologised for blocking access to the site, after the ISP incorrectly classified it as “pornographic”. 

The day before, TalkTalk had to apologise for blocking access to the website of London Friend, one of the capital’s oldest LGBT charities.

PinkNews also revealed parental controls for users of BT broadband included an option to block “gay and lesbian lifestyle” sites, as well as sexual health information. 

A report from Ofcom in June found that only a small minority of new British internet users are choosing to activate web filters.

Only 4% of new Virgin Media customers signed up to the parental controls, alongside 5% of BT and 8% of Sky newcomers.