Culture, Media and Sport CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by James Griffiths

1. I am writing as a concerned parent and individual in relation to the current issue being considered by the Government relating to the safety of children from the corrupting content of adult material that can be viewed on the internet. I have seven children and along with my wife have sort to bring the children up in a safe and loving household while facing the everyday challenges of family life. This current threat is both disturbing and very harmful to the fundamental basics of family life and to the moral fibre of a right foundation for our young people.

2. We recognise that the internet has brought considerable benefits to both children and society in being used as a tool for gathering information especially in helping them with their studies. Our older children didn’t have the same wealth of information when they were in education as our three younger siblings have now (aged 15, 13 and 11) but whilst we have blocks and filters in place ourselves there are many many other children who don’t have this protection which leaves them very venerable to unsuitable and corrupting content.

3. We believe that much more needs to be done by the Government, industry, parents and young people to put in place measures to protect the youth of today and make the internet a safer place for children. It is a basic necessity that our children are safe from cruelty and harm wherever they are and that includes when they are on the internet.

4. When we talk about child safety online we believe two areas of greatest concern and areas that need to be focused on are:

Keeping children safe from harmful content online (eg grooming and sexting).

Protecting young eyes from legal content that’s not appropriate for their age.

5. It is not a new issue facing the Government as many persons and organisations have been calling for years for policy changes and investment of resources in both technology and policing to better protect children and young people from online dangers

6. Along with many other concerned parents we are calling on the Government and especially this Committee with its responsibilities in this particular matter to bring in legislation that would require default blocking of all adult content to be a standard setting on all internet enabled devices sold in the UK. This would a way of stopping children from seeing harmful adult content and give peace of mind to parents when the internet is being used. There is also a need of the development and use of better age-verification software.

7. The constant attempt to water down this action being taken in the name of freedom of choice is a very poor argument indeed and surely recent statistics from Ofcom revealing two key facts—“81% of children aged 14–16 have viewed ADULT material online” and “Only 46% of parents have filters in place on their home internet”—only serve to illustrate the urgent need of action as to this very serious issue.

8. My wife joins with me in my grave concerns as to this matter and we would urge you as a committee to take account of these concerns along with many other parents like ourselves in moving forward to implement the necessary actions to give our very treasured possessions and the hope of the future in this country—our young impressionable children—the protection and moral support they need to prosper.

September 2013

Prepared 18th March 2014