Internet Matters’ submission to Ofcom’s Call for Evidence for the Protection of Children

A pre-teen boy works on a tablet with other children working in the background and foreground. The Ofcom response looks at keeping children like them safe online.

In early 2023, Ofcom issued a call for evidence to inform their work as the future online safety regulator. Our submission uses key insights from our research programme and wider expertise to set out our vision of how the new regime can be made as effective as possible for children and families.

Key points:

  • Parents are key to protecting children in their online lives. The new regime will only succeed if it integrates parents as a key part of children’s user journeys. For example, child-friendly terms of service explicitly directing children to speak to their parents about the contents.
  • The new regime provides a huge opportunity to formalise the role of the third sector. At the moment, the sector provides informal accountability and input into decision-making processes of platforms, but there is scope for the sector to do more. This could take various forms and would need to be sufficiently resourced.
  • There is a continued role for strong media literacy provision. Data shows that the baseline media literacy capabilities of the general population is poor. One challenge is on ensuring good quality of provision – one solution to this could be the introduction of a kitemarking scheme.

Towards the new online safety regime:

Keeping children safe online is a shared responsibility – all of us must play our part, including parents, schools, industry and government. Internet Matters has long championed the need for greater regulation of online platforms, to ensure that online safety is not left just to families and the services that support them.

As we move towards the creation of the new online safety regime later this year, Internet Matters will continue to share our expert insight into families’ online lives with Ofcom, government and industry to inform these new duties and responsibilities.

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