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X Rated — Maybe Not!

December 30, 2008

Like many others, I was somewhat flabbergasted at Andy Burnham‘s recent suggestion that the Internet™ should have age ratings. Fortunately, his more media savvy colleague Tom Watson has used his blog to solicit honest opinion on the matter. He has also promised to pass on all the comments to Andy Burnham and Lord Carter for consideration.

OpenIt’s all too easy to pour derision on Andy Burnham, fortunately Tom Watson’s comments (mostly) avoid cheap jibes. They also show that this story is spreading worldwide… but I noticed that there was one point about classification that hadn’t really been considered. I’ve added my tuppence worth, and would invite you to do the same. Here’s what I wrote in the comments:

As many have already said, this system is completely unworkable and does indicate a fundamental misunderstanding of how the internet works… however, that’s not the main point I want to highlight.

What I find interesting is the suggestion (implied) that the current system for classifying films works when, to all intents and purposes, it doesn’t. As a teacher with an interest in media education, I have long since realised that the ratings system is completely ineffectual with regards to preventing young people from viewing what has been deemed ‘inappropriate’ material. Many, many kids have seen ’18’ certificate films and almost without exception, it has been with the consent of the parents. Quite often, the parents have been the ones who have provided the films in the first place.

Of course, I believe that film classification is not actually a legal requirement, nor is it statutory measure and so probably unenforceable… a similar system for the internet will merely highlight how out-of-touch the policy makers and legislators actually are.

A much better solution would be to allow and encourage schools to teach pupils and parents about responsible internet use in the first place… starting with the parents.

I fear that the real reason behind this proposal is to allow the government to pass responsibility for internet useage to parents, but they are not willing to enable parents to be the responsible guides that children need.

You can add your own thoughts HERE!

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 30, 2008 3:58 pm

    Couldn’t have put it better myself Neil. Knowing my pupils it would only make it easier for them to find undesirable stuff on the net! They would quickly be searching Google for officially X-Rated sites!

    This fits in with the in-school filtering battles we have all been having lately, children will soon all have unlimited and often unfiltered web access in their pockets and it’s up to the government and schools to prepare and educate them for this.


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