The Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, has said in a report that children did not know how to deal with common problems they found online.

The report, Growing Up Digital, said that children were being left to learn about the internet on their own, with parents vainly hoping that they will benefit from its opportunities while avoiding its pitfalls. Ms Longfield said, ‘The internet is an incredible force for good, but it is wholly irresponsible to let them roam in a world for which they are ill-prepared, which is subject to limited regulation and which is controlled by a small number of powerful organisations.’ She called for new laws to protect children’s online privacy and data. Her report recommended that:

  • Children should study ‘digital citizenship’ to learn about their rights and responsibilities online, so they are prepared for online activities
  • Social media companies should rewrite their ‘impenetrable’ terms and conditions in far simpler language so children know what they are agreeing to
  • Ministers should create a ‘digital ombudsman’ to mediate for children seeking the removal of content

Ms Longfield said that it was critical that children were educated better so that they could enjoy the opportunities provided by the internet whilst minimising the well known risks. (5th January 2017)