Page last updated at 14:17 GMT, Monday, 29 March 2010 15:17 UK

Calll for better mobile phone internet controls

Children on a computer
A code of conduct for industry to sign up to is called for

Mobile phones should be fitted with better parental controls to stop children accessing harmful websites, says a government adviser.

Psychologist Professor Tanya Byron says industry must keep pace with changes, such as children increasingly accessing the internet via their phones.

She wants industry to agree a code of conduct to show how they are providing "safe places" online for children.

Her recommendations come in a report on her child internet safety review.

"Let's have standards across the board, codes of conduct so that industry can say to parents and families this is what we are doing for your children on the sites and we can measure their success in doing that
Professor Tanya Byron

Prof Byron will later update ministers on the progress of her review into inappropriate material on the internet and in video games.

She is also calling for minimum standards for parental controls on games consoles.

She said the UK was the only country to have established a body that brought together industry, charities and the government - the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) - to help children and families be safer online.

But, she said, more needed to be done.

Prof Byron is calling for the council to work with phone manufacturers to improve parental controls on mobiles.

She told the BBC UKCCIS would be discussing the code of conduct to see what standards would be expected from all sites where UK children were "socialising, commenting and learning".

Panic buttons where children can alert authorities if they see inappropriate sites and how to help children set up privacy settings would be among the considerations.

She told the BBC: "Let's have standards across the board, codes of conduct so that industry can say to parents and families this is what we are doing for your children on the sites and we can measure their success in doing that."

She said the council had agreed in December to write the guidance.

She said the message was: "Do it fast as parents and children need this to happen so they can enjoy the online space safely."

Social network sites

Her report also says UKCCIS must address the issues that concern children, young people and their parents, such as underage children using social networking sites and how easy it is for children to access pornography.

She told the BBC primary school children should not be using social network sites.

"How many parents know their children are on social networks?

"I think definitely it is very much about responsibility that starts in the home - how we parent our children. How we talk to our children about being safe whether online or offline."

Children's Secretary Ed Balls said the UK was a world leader in tackling child internet safety.

"More young people are now accessing the internet on their mobile phones and games consoles, and as parents we need to manage the way our children are using these technologies."

Emma-Jane Cross, chief executive of bullying prevention charity Beatbullying, said: "Protecting vulnerable children and young people from persistent and pernicious bullying in the digital space is critical and we must listen to children and young people when framing policy and educating both children and adults to stay safe online."

Dr Byron was asked by the government for a progress report on her review into internet safety conducted two years ago which led to the creation of UKCCIS.



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