watching with mother

Just a little while ago a few of us were sat in a restaurant discussing  the mandatory internet filter which is being proposed by our government here in the UK. Basically, another conservative,  moral scare driven, “save the children!” thing focussing on that portal to hell, the internet.

This would essentially put an automatic adult content filter on the UK internet, and to access adult content from your household you would have to opt in to view porn, and be identified as such. It would be extremely naive to imagine that only pornography would be hit by this. Even with things as they stand, I had to opt in as a confirmed adult to access “gay” sites via my mobile phone through Virgin Mobile, even though I was trying to access a news site. I tried accessing a particularly salacious, gutter journalism online paper (whose paper edition carries heterosexual soft porn as a matter of tradition) – no problem. Try to access an LGBT newspaper that carries stories of concern to the community, as well as articles of a health educational nature, and no porn at all – blocked.

There have been rumours that this filter would hit other areas, such as esoteric content, and while the targeting of occult subjects has not been confirmed, I think it is inevitable that some areas of esoteric information will be hit by this.

The essential premise to this seems to be that the internet should be turned into a nursery, though of course approved content will get through. Something tells me that depictions of war will be fine, and pictures and stories about half naked men being tortured and nailed to pieces of wood will be available, complete with crown of thorns.

But let’s get this straight. The internet is not a nursery, and it’s not here to do the job of regulating your kids’ access to it. That would be the job of the parents, right? And if your kids are smart enough to circumvent your control of them (and likely they are and you know it), and they choose to access things you don’t want them to see, maybe it’s you that needs to talk to them about it, rather than expecting the whole of the rest of the world to compensate for your paranoid lack of communication with your children. Or have things changed so much since we were kids, and did what our parents didn’t want us to do, and survived all the same?

Oh and one other thing. That predatory danger to our children. We should all have our kids thoroughly street wise and internet wise. But let’s not forget, the predatory, seedy (always male) stranger is a convenient image, a stereotype, most often a myth. Most abused children, tragically, are abused by people they know, often people in their own families, and it isn’t always a man. That real problem is not coming down the internet, it’s not a “danger stranger” perv, and pretending that turning the adult world into a nursery, with all the porn viewers tagged, is going to deal with the real problem is frankly pathetic.

Rather than segregating those who wants to access content that isn’t designed for children, does it not make more sense to have the fence around the nursery area, and control who and what gets into that?

Or do we want an infantilized world, where everything is about kids and their morally obsessed, kiddie obsessed guardians, and the grown ups are all either suspect, or mother superior. Where everything is about control, and insurance, and endangered childhood, and no one gets to grow up to be anything other than a chastened survivor of childhood’s end.

What is that all about?

Victorian grave monument at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park



  1. 100% with you on this one. Parents have a DUTY to teach their kids, support their kids and monitor where possible what they are bloody doing. Simple fact moast abusers are known to the family – wake up and protect your children it is not the job of the government to do this. Parenthood doesn’t end with alot of grunts in a labour suite – that is the easy bit! The internet, televisions and dvds are not there to babysit. Children need love, guidance and discipline from their parents not Facebook. Parental responsibility is just that a responsibility.

  2. what I really don’t understand is when parents buy their kids every kind of technology under the sun, and then think it is the world’s job to compensate for their unsupervised use of it. If they are teenagers then they are going to seek out all kinds of stuff, and they’ll find a way to get through to it because they can. The parents need to talk to *them* about what they are seeking out. If they are pre-teen, wtf are they doing with that kind of technology? Their parents must have more money than sense of responsibility. But it’s easier to pretend that it’s the big bad wolf.

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