UK Online Safety Plan Teaches Kids to ‘Zip It, Block It, Flag It’

LONDON—A new initiative by the British government to improve internet safety for children and young people moved to the fast track after Prime Minister Gordon Brown revealed that his younger son, Fraser, was left unsupervised to wreak some minor havoc on the home computer.

“Last week, the people who follow Sarah, my wife, on Twitter received a message of gobbledegook which my younger son had bashed out on the keys and then pressed 'send' while she was out of the room,” Brown said. Afterwards, Downing Street was inundated with calls asking if someone had hacked in to their private account, the Times reported.

Monday, 300 delegates from across government, industry, law enforcement and the third sector attended the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) Summit in London for the launch of the first Child Internet Safety Strategy and a Digital Code for internet safety.

Tuesday, the Home Office announced the launch of the new initiative called “zip it, block it, flag it,” which will include education directed at children aged five years of age and up that encourages them to keep personal information private, block messages and report inappropriate online behavior. The initiative is considered unique among safety campaigns in that it bypasses parents—who have generally failed in their efforts to successfully educate children about how to use the internet—and directly addresses the kids themselves.

"The internet provides our children with a world of entertainment, opportunity and knowledge—a world literally at their fingertips,” said Brown. But we must ensure that the virtual world is as safe for them as this one. Today we are launching our online version of the green cross code. We hope that 'zip it, block it, flag it' will become as familiar to this generation as 'stop, look, listen' did to the last."

 “For the first time, web safety skills will be a compulsory part of the curriculum to help tackle the problem of cyber-bullying and online grooming by paedophiles,” reports the Guardian. “The plans, launched by the prime minister in London today, come after a major review of online safety by the child psychologist Tanya Byron, and were drawn up by the UK Council for Child Internet Safety.”

The government also announced the launch of a strategy document that sets out how government, industry, charities and other organizations will work together to help children stay safe online. The strategy has three aims:

* Creating a safer online environment

* Giving everybody the skills, knowledge and understanding to help children and young people stay safe online

* Inspiring safe and responsible use and behavior

For more information, visit the UKCCIS website.