New research has highlighted that Children are not being supervised or educated about using the internet, leaving them open to cyber bullying and grooming.
The Children Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, said that children did not know how to deal with common problems online, and went on to call for new laws to protect privacy data for children, overseen by a digital ombudsman.
The report entitled Growing up Digital, stated that children were “left to learn about the internet on their own with parents vainly hoping that they will benefit from its opportunities while avoiding its pitfalls”.
“The internet is an incredible force for good, but it is wholly irresponsible to let them roam in a world for which they are ill-prepared, which is subject to limited regulation and which is controlled by a small number of powerful organisations.”
The report recommends that children should learn about digital citizenship. This will teach children rights and responsibilities online, and that social media companies should rewrite terms and conditions so children can read them and understand them.
It also recommends a “digital ombudsman” post should be created which will mediate on behalf of children to remove content where necessary.
Ms Longfield added, “It is critical that children are educated better so that they can enjoy the opportunities provided by the internet whilst minimising the well-known risks.
“It is also vital that children understand what they agree to when joining social media platforms, that their privacy is better protected, and they can have content posted about them removed quickly should they wish to.”
She said while being interviews on Radio 4, that the balance of power should be shifted towards children, the biggest users of the internet.
She said, “This is about helping children navigate this world, they have got all sorts of rights that we have signed up to in the physical world. It is now time to sign up to those in the digital world.”
The government have said children learn about online use in school.