Expert fears for children using internet

ITV's Tonight Programme investigates the risks of children using the internet unsupervised. Photo: PA Wire

A health expert fears we are putting our children through an enormous experiment - the results of which we do not know.

Dr Aric Sigman tells ITV’s Tonight Programme that children are spending too much time on the internet with unknown consequences.

Dr Aric Sigman talks to ITV’s Tonight Programme.

Tonight’s programme “What Are Your Kids Up To” also discloses the results of a parents’ survey conducted by Netmums.com which reveals:

  • Nearly 40% of parents say they worry about the amount of time their kids spend on the internet.
  • Half of the one thousand parents who responded worry about their kids being bullied and viewing pornography online.
  • And 61% worry about their sons and daughters viewing violent images online

With the arrival of the summer holidays, children across Britain are putting down their school books and picking up their computers, smart phones and games consoles.

More than half will be able to access the internet without ANY restrictions – and experts warn that growing numbers are at risk from online pornography, bullying and even grooming.

Children now spend an average twenty hours a week playing video games and going online. But excessive screen time has been linked to obesity, poor social development and even changing how the brain forms and develops.

Dawn and Scott French with their children Ashton, 14 and Summer, six.

Tonight interviews Wigan family Dawn and Scott French whose internet-mad youngsters Ashton, 14 and Summer, six, spend much of their spare time in the virtual world.

Internet safety expert “Dr Pete” shows the parents how easy it is to install controls limiting online access for their kids.

And the family is filmed at Penrhyn Castle in North Wales where they take part in the National Trust’s latest campaign 50 Things to do before you’re eleven-and-three-quarters.

](http://www.getsafeonline.org/)

The youngsters went abseiling at Penrhyn Castle in North Wales when they took part in a National Trust campaign.

[We also reveal the dangers which face youngsters, including cyberbullying. The charity Beatbullying has “cyber mentors” who are youngsters who have been bullied themselves and now help other youngsters going through the same issue.

The message is that it is vitally important to share any bullying problem you have with others who can help you.

Currently the Government is considering two options to protect youngsters from easily accessible adult websites

The first option favoured by the big Internet Service Providers is called ‘active choice’ in which a screen will pop up the first time you log on, asking what kind of websites you want to view.

The second option recommended by all-party Parliamentary Inquiry into online child protection is known as ‘opt-in’. This means adult-only material is automatically blocked, unless you contact your internet service provider to request it.

If you would like to have your say in the current public consultation you can visit the Government's website.

Other useful links:

www.childnet-int.org/

http://www.getsafeonline.org/