Explore our responses to consultations, calls for evidence and other important steps towards policy or legislative change.
Parent Zone research, reports and policy responses are developed and funded directly by Parent Zone and are entirely independent of any other projects.
Response to the Joint Pre-legislative Scrutiny Committee on the Draft Online Safety Bill’s Call for Evidence
Parent Zone welcomed the opportunity to respond to the Joint pre-legislative scrutiny, appointed to consider the government's draft bill to establish a new regulatory framework to tackle harmful content online. We highlighted several factors:
- some platforms will be more tightly age-gated for children – but hardcore pornography sites will remain open to anyone.
- the ‘Duty of Care’ described does not extend to a ‘duty to take action’ when a child is known to be at risk – for example, a child posting self harm pictures or sharing naked images.
- the resources needed to provide media literacy information to parents will be made available.
- gaming has been left out of a bill that is supposed to make the UK the safest country in the world to go online.
Our response calls for a simplification of the duty of care, which would make it more responsive – especially to new harms arising from innovative functionalities.
Response to the government’s call for evidence in the Review of the Gambling Act 2005
Parent Zone welcomed this opportunity to highlight the ways children are gambling online and being targeted with gambling-like techniques and aggressive marketing techniques – and the need for policy reform.
Our response calls for regulatory changes and support for The Gambling Commission in protecting children and young people online – especially related to the links between online gaming and gambling.
Response to the Select Committee’s Call for Evidence on the Social and Economic Impact of the 2005 Gambling Act
Our research shows that many children and young people are left unprotected by the existing 2005 Gambling Act.
Our response includes evidence from our reports ‘Skin Gambling: Teenage Britain’s Secret Habit’, and ‘The Rip-Off Games: How the new business model of online gaming exploits children' demonstrating the widespread phenomenon of children gambling via games.
Response to the Online Harms White Paper
In April 2019, the government published the Online Harms White Paper, outlining plans on how to make the online space safer for children and young people. The establishment of an independent internet regulator, putting in place a statutory duty of care and greater transparency are central to its plans.
In Parent Zone's full response we make recommendations on how the Online Harms White Paper can be improved to better fulfil its purpose.
Response to the Commission for Countering Extremism’s consultation and call for evidence on Extremism in England and Wales
This call for evidence allows for consideration of how support for parents and carers can help them understand and respond to the risk of online radicalisation and extremism.
In our response, we focus on our Home Office-commissioned Resilient Families programme, which de-stigmatises and contextualises the issue of online extremism and radicalisation to help provide support for anyone who works with families.
In light of the success of this programme and in line with our evidence-based research, our primary recommendation was to encourage a digital resilience approach, while remaining parent-focused.
Response to the ICO consultation on the Age-Appropriate Design Code
Parent Zone supports the ICO's acknowledgement that parents are best placed to help children exercise their rights, and that increased digital literacy is important in achieving this. However, technical solutions are not an alternative to ‘good enough’ at-home parenting. The code should be implemented in conjunction with focus on building children’s digital resilience.
Response to the UNCRC General Comment on children’s rights in relation to the digital environment
The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child’s invited all interested parties to comment on the concept note, which indicates at the initial stages how children’s rights are to be protected in a digital environment.
While we acknowledge the tension between parental and children’s rights in a digital environment, we need to place the best interests of the child as a priority. Our three main recommendations looked at how the General Comment could support parents to help children build resilience and effectively exercise their rights.
Response to the Gambling Commission’s Consultation on the national strategy to reduce gambling harms
This consultation allows us to highlight the harms which result from the links between gaming and gambling – in particular, skin-gambling and loot boxes.
In our response, we focus on ‘Priority Area 2: Prevention and Education’, drawing on our expertise in helping families, educators, children and frontline services with some of the issues caused or amplified by the digital age.
Legislation needs to recognise loot boxes as a form of gambling and the regulation that allows skin gambling sites to proliferate needs to be tightened.
Response to the Gambling Commission's Age Verification Consultation
The Gambling Commission’s Age-Verification Consultation is an opportunity to highlight the increasing number of easy-access unlicensed gambling sites available to children.
In our response, we emphasised how the number of children gambling online is disproportionate to the 20% of parents that feel the need to discuss gambling with their children. Many of these children are completely unaware of the negative consequences of their actions, spiralling into issues about how they value money.
Parents often do not feel confident in talking to their children about these issues, in part because of a lack of knowledge of the link between gambling and gaming – as referenced in our report into skin gambling.
Response to the Department for Education consultation on the changes to the teaching of Sex & Relationships Education and PSHE
The government’s consultation on updating Sex and Relationships Education guidance, published in 2000, is an opportunity to align education and legislation with children’s lived experiences, to keep them safer both on and offline.
Among the changes proposed were excluding sex education from primary education, and for parents to have a right to withdraw children from sex education at secondary level.
We have no wish to undermine the rights of parents; but the right to withdraw is not aligned with the biggest area of concern for the parents we speak to: the lack of information and confidence about talking to their own children about online risk.