Young child on tablet
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Government-imposed web filters are not a fix-it-all solution for protecting children online and give parents a false sense of security, a leading web expert has warned. Tony Anscombe from computer security firm AVG said that more education was needed to ensure that children stayed safe when using the web.

"The government needs to realise that a filter is not an isolated solution for protecting children online," he said. He added that parents and teachers were also unsure of who should be responsible for teaching children about online safety and urged people not to "pass the buck".

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His views were echoed by Aisha Tilstone, director of awareness group Child Internet Safety. She said that schools failed to provide enough training on the issue and that parents and teachers rarely talked about online safety.

"The money invested by the ISPs [on web filters] would be better spent on the education of parents and teachers. We need to get the message to the people who work at a grassroots level with children to ensure their online safety," she said.

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The UK's four biggest ISPs have been forced to introduce web filters after the government demanded the creation of a "family friendly" internet. Earlier this week Sky started blocking adult websites by default for any customers who hadn't made a decision about turning filters on or off.

Child Internet Safety, which produces guides and runs events to educate parents and teachers about child safety online, recently launched a magazine to try and increase awareness of the growing issue. Tilstone said that information about keeping children safe online needed to be made more accessible for it to get through.

Anscombe added that web filters being used by BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media were not a panacea and dangers still existed online, even on connections with parental controls.

"There are chat rooms, social networking and forums, all of which encourage kids to communicate in ways that fall outside the filters. Parents and children need to be made aware of this."

He argued that while Sky's decision to turn on web filters by default was "a step in the right direction", it was essential to spend more time educating children, parents and teachers. He said that the government, ISPs, teachers, parents and software companies all needed to do their part to keep children safe online.

"Parents must not sit back and think someone else is now taking care of this issue. They should educate and reinforce the message so that children can enjoy the wealth of entertainment and information available on the internet."