Fox (n): carnivore of genus vulpes; crafty person; scavenger; (vb) to confuse; -ed (adj): to be drunk.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

You've only yourselves to blame.

WOULD you let a child cross a busy road on their own? Play with knives? Drink whatever they find in the kitchen cupboards?

Then why in the name of all that's holy would you let them loose on the information superhighway without keeping an eye on them?

There's a lot of kerfuffle about what's available on the internet and that because children are as capable as anyone else of accessing it that this is the fault of the medium, which should be forced to bring in some filters.

I'm not against the idea of sieving out the stuff you'd rather not see, in fact I'd like a filter for twats, idiots and trolls as much as I would the inadvertent filth you find with a fairly innocuous search term. I once got locked out of the company internet for Googling 'breast cancer' for a story, a fact which was explained at some length and increasing volume to a succession of IT geeks before my access was restored.

But are parents seriously expecting search engines to do their parenting for them? Are there mums and dads out there who believe that because they can't be bothered to turn on the very simple child-locks on their home internet that a massive corporation ought to sort the problem out?

It beggars belief. If you let a child use a computer, whether it's at home or school, you should make sure they're safe while they're doing it. It's like sending little Jimmy out to navigate a motorway, or play with a chainsaw, and thinking nothing could possibly go wrong.

And I'm afraid the facts of the matter make it fairly likely that, if little Jimmy comes across cybersmut while doing his homework - and that's how 90 per cent of them find it - it's there because of mummy and daddy.

How many dads look at relaxation videos online? How many mummies read erotica? There were - at the last very rough estimate - 420million pages with adult content on the internet, and 72m people a month visit them. A fifth of men watch it at work, and 1 in 3 visitors to adult websites are women.

Around £2m is spent on 'privately observing rude nudes' EVERY SINGLE SECOND. I know children's pocket money is more than it was, but they're not paying £62billion a year to fund the industry. Mummy and daddy are.

The research also shows that children's first exposure to adult online content is at the age of 11. That's dreadful, but it's not the fault of the internet any more than jazz mags are the fault of the paper they're printed on.

Filth isn't being pumped into our homes any more than sewage is, but if you let your children play in the drains the chances are they'll find dirt. And if you're the ones who made them filthy in the first place you've frankly only yourself to blame.

It's a ridiculously simple process to ensure your home internet has a 'top shelf' section your children won't be able to access, and if you can't be stuffed to find out how to do it you're either a terrible parent or someone just too dense to operate a spoon.

Sadly, there isn't a filter for those either.

"Do you want to play on Daddy's laptop next?"