David Cameron is calling for reform in the the way children are protected on the Internet. Children now start to use the web at the age of eight and four out of five children aged 14 to 16 admit regularly accessing explicit images on their home computers. More worryingly, as many as one in three under-tens have seen pornography while online.What is David Cameron proposing? In future, anyone buying a new computer or signing up with a new internet service provider will be asked whether they have children when they log on for the first time.Those answering ‘yes’ will automatically be taken through the process of installing anti-pornography filters and will be asked a series of questions about how stringent they want restrictions to be. This will allow parents to impose timed access limits on lewd material or prevent children viewing social networking sites such as Facebook during certain hours of the day.Ministers will also demand that internet service providers impose ‘appropriate measures’ to ensure that those setting the parental controls are over 18. The proposal is due to be announced by the Government later this month and is expected to be waved through with a majority vote when it reaches the House of Commons.Meanwhile, in a recent survey by NASUWT (National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers) it was revealed that 4 in 10 teachers have been bullied online with parents responsible in a quarter of cases. The survey reports that teachers are receiving abuse and are subject to false allegations via social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook.In a recent Redstor survey of education support providers, we learnt that only 50% of IT support providers, both private and public, are including an E-Safety service by default as part of their standard managed service offering. This is despite the fact that these same support providers recognise that E-Safety is a top priority for schools.On home PCs it’s a different story. TalkTalk recently anounced that ‘one in three new customers – roughly the proportion of households in the UK with dependent children in them – are choosing to turn parental controls on and 80 per cent think being asked is a good thing.’ The parental control software market is expected to grow an additional 50% this year, showing the progress which has been made.Redstor’s E-Safety service is a highly effective monitoring system which identifies cyber-bullying and other safeguarding concerns. Used in over 2000 schools, it monitors activity both online and offline to identify e-safety concerns in a wide variety of categories that would otherwise go undetected.
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Cyber-criminals are increasingly viewing education institutions as easy prey. No surprise then that the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) recently warned of a spike in the targeting of schools, universities and colleges.