Time for Vigilance and Action

The British Government has warned that parents are “ill-equipped” to keep their children safe from violent and damaging influences on the internet. No doubt the same can be said for parents in the remainder of the archipelago outside the United Kingdom as well. Ed Balls, the Children Minister, made the point that they were ill equipped because they simply did not know what was going on in the web or in computer games. Staggeringly only one parent in 20 – a survey revealed – knew that children give out personal details over the internet. But this, surely, is not a matter of being ill-equipped? It is a matter of culpable ignorance. Good parents who relate to their children will not only know what their children are doing generally and how they are spending their time. They will have some idea of the influences which are going to form their character, habits and attitudes. They will be keenly interested in what they are reading, what they are watching and who their friends are. This is a big part of what parenting is about.The British Government has set up a study group to assess the impact of the internet and violent games on children. All very good – but surely we know already what uncontrolled surfing of the net is exposing children and adolescents to and what the likely effects of that will be. What is really needed is something that will help reduce that appalling ratio of one in twenty to a considerably less worrying one.