Internet: Young People

House of Lords written question – answered on 3rd March 2014.

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Photo of Lord Alton of Liverpool Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the deaths of Sasha Steadman and Tallulah Wilson, what action they are taking to protect young people who visit self-harm and suicide sites on the internet.

Photo of Lord Gardiner of Kimble Lord Gardiner of Kimble Lords Spokesperson (Department for Culture, Media and Sport), Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)

The Government takes the issue of child safety online very seriously and has engaged intensively with industry; as a result we have set out a series of measures to help parents keep children safe online. The four main ISPs have committed to giving their customers an easy way to install family friendly filters that will protect all devices in the home. These allow parents to prevent their children from accessing potentially harmful content. All the major ISPs have a category which covers self-harm and suicide, allowing parents to prevent their children from viewing this content.

In addition, the new national curriculum will see children aged 5 to 16 taught about internet safety in a sensible, age-appropriate way, a really important step to help children and young people understand some of the issues.

However, there is no silver bullet and social media sites and users also need to take responsibility. If individuals are having conversations about harming themselves, then both social media sites and other users should point them to places where they can get help.

We have been clear that we expect social media companies to respond quickly to incidents of abusive behaviour on their networks. This includes having easy to use reporting tools, robust processes in place to respond promptly when abuse is reported and where appropriate, suspending or terminating the accounts of those who do not comply with the acceptable use policies. We will shortly be meeting a number of social media companies to discuss what more might be done to protect young people when they are online.

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