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Issue:- 9 February  2012

Survey of 1,800 respondents shows a shocking picture of underage internet usage

A new online survey has been conducted by the website ParentPort reveals that,of those parents surveyed whose children watch films at home, 40% had allowed their children to watch a film classified above their age. ParentPort was set up in October 2011 to make it easier for parents to complain about material they see or hear across the media, communications and retail industries. It was jointly developed by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the Authority for Television On Demand (ATVOD), the BBC Trust, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), the Office of Communications (Ofcom), the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) and the Video Standards Council (VSC)/Pan-European Game Information (PEGI).

The survey of 1,800 respondents from the UK’s 2 largest online parenting communities on Mumsnet and Netmums. The shocking results have reveals the challenges and pressures parents face when it comes to keeping the media their children see age-appropriate. Of those parents surveyed whose children play video games, a quarter (25%) had allowed their children to play games classified above their age. Furthermore, 16% of parents surveyed said they had bought their children a device or gadget; such as a games console or MP3 player; which they themselves did not fully understand how to use.

However, the parents surveyed did not just give into their children’s appetite for the media; many also closely supervise what their children see and use. In fact, 82% of the parents surveyed claimed they always know what films and television programmes their children watch, and 77% said they always or usually know what websites their children visit.

Meanwhile, the survey also uncovers parents’ boundaries when it comes to media, with 1 in 8 of the parents surveyed reporting concern that Christmas presents their child had received were inappropriate for their age. Some reported being worried their youngsters would have unsupervised access to the internet through smartphones and laptops given as gifts. Others cited well-meaning friends and family overstepping the mark; with examples of pre-teens unwrapping presents of 18 rated video games, and under 10s receiving 12 rated DVDs.

Overall, the parents surveyed recognised the contribution the media makes to their children’s lives. Over half (52%) of the parents surveyed thought films and DVDs generally played a positive role in their children’s lives. 49% cited television as also having a positive effect, and 48% believed the internet also made a good contribution to their children’s lives.

Of those parents completing the survey who knew about ParentPort, 94.7% rated the website as a 'very useful' or 'quite useful' tool for them as a parent, guardian or carer; while 93.9% said they would recommend ParentPort to others.

Ed Richards, Ofcom’s Chief Executive said:- "This survey reveals the challenges facing parents when it comes to their children’s use of the media. ParentPort now gives parents an easy way to register their concerns with the media regulators who work to protect children from inappropriate material."

Guy Parker, ASA Chief Executive added that:- "Parents, carers and guardians play an important role as the first line of defence in deciding what’s appropriate for their children to see. But quite rightly, they expect support from media regulators, which is why ParentPort is such a valuable resource to help us understand parents’ views. We encourage parents to take full advantage of it."

Martha Lane Fox, UK Digital Champion, also commented:- "The world of media is speeding up and changing shape and anything that helps people navigate the new landscape is to be welcomed."

So what do you are readers think? Do you agree with the findings? Email us now to and let us know. Also do you think the internet should have age ratings on all websites as well?

Academy to produce next generation of digital innovators

AN event to bring businesses in the digital media sector into conversation with the next generation of innovators is attracting the attention of a number of key employers. Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) is just one of the many businesses preparing to join local digital development companies at the I ♥ Gaming event, hosted by The North Liverpool Academy and its new government-backed Studio School.  I ♥ Gaming, from 13 February 2012, will give teenagers interested in the digital future an opportunity to learn more about gaming, app design and social media development as a career. Workshops and presentations will encourage young delegates to gain hands-on experience of 3D design, interactive TV and gaming, game creation, designing apps, find out more about developing new gaming platforms; and even starting their own ventures in the future.  As Dave Brown, Managing Director of Apposing, a Liverpool mobile app design company, says, digital media is a fast-growing sector, with a widening skills gap to match. "There’s a desperate need for skilled developers. The more we can attract young, skilled and enthusiastic people into the industry, the better – for us and for them." says Dave,

Apposing is just one of the successful local companies holding workshops at the event. Others include Onteca and Setgo, 2 digital games developers from Merseyside. I ♥ Gaming’s organisers, North Liverpool Academy, hope that more businesses will see the benefits of taking part. Says Kay Askew, Principal of North Liverpool College, says:- "NESTA predicts that Creative and Digital Industries will grow at double the rate of the rest of the economy. Yet, nationally, there is a significant skills shortage in this sector.   This is an important event that will bring companies into contact with the people who will help their businesses to grow in the future."

Opening in September 2012, The Studio, in Liverpool, is one of a handful of schools throughout the UK that offer a new concept in education, with closer links to the real world of work. Offering a range of academic and vocational qualifications, as well as paid work placements, it will equip young people with the skills, experience and business know-how that will help them succeed in rewarding careers. The Studio in Liverpool is to specialise in digital technology and design.  The school itself will feel more like a workplace than a school, with a 9am to 5pm working day and year round opening.  It is supported by Sony, plus a growing number of local and national industry employers.  "The predicted growth of the creative and digital sectors is going to deliver exciting and rewarding careers for those young people with the right qualifications and skills. The Studio School is set to improve the employment prospects for young people across the Liverpool City region by directly addressing this skills gap. I would urge any student interested in a career in the gaming or digital sector to come along to I ♥ Gaming. It will be a unique opportunity to meet some of they key players within the industry and explore the many options open to them in this fast growing industry." Kay Askew adds.

For more information, visit:-

Lord Mayor Meets Firefighters

THE Lord Mayor of Liverpool took part in a training experience, on Tuesday, 07 February 2012 with firefighters from Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service. In a press release the Lord Mayor, Councillor Frank Prendergast said:- "We all know and appreciate the challenges firefighters face when they are called to an emergency. However, it is not until you have seen the training that firefighters undertake that you really understand the problems and difficulties they face and the way an injured or trapped person might feel. You can see how this continual training is such an important part of the service to make sure that those in need get the best possible service when they need it. The firefighters do a fine job and it was very nice to meet some of the crews." On the day he donned breathing apparatus and protective clothing to see firefighters from Crosby Community Fire Station and City Centre Community Fire Station tackle a blaze at the MF&RS Training and Development Academy in Croxteth. He also listened to a briefing on fire behaviour and used a hose as part of a practice session. He even played the part of a road traffic collision casualty. In the road traffic training session he sat in the driver seat of a car as firefighters from Formby Community Fire Station removed the doors and roof and carefully lifted him on to a stretcher.

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