The Byron Review (titled "Safer Children in a Digital World") was a report ordered in September 2007 by the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown and delivered on the 27 March 2008 to the UK Department for Children, Schools and Families. It was authored and overseen by Dr Tanya Byron.
The Review focuses on the use of video games and the Internet (particularly social networking websites) by children, and discusses the use of classification and the role of parenting in policing these.
- Use of the Internet and videogames is extensive among children of all ages, and the use of these can be beneficial since they offer opportunities for learning and development.
- There exists in both media material that is potentially inappropriate for children, both in terms of content and safety online.
- The report does not focus on whether the media itself causes harm to children but instead looks at how the media can be used to make children's lives better.
- Many parents do not understand the media, which the Review terms the "generational digital divide". This can mean that parents are overprotective through fear of what is available.
- Parents should be available to assist their children in making decisions about and during use of the media.
- There should be a shared culture of responsibility between families, government, and industry, to restrict availability of inappropriate material to children.
- The Review proposes a "national strategy for child Internet safety" which provides information to families.
Video game classification
- There are many systems already in place to inform parents and help them to restrict access to inappropriate games.
- Current ratings systems (such as PEGI) are sometimes misunderstood by parents as "difficulty ratings".
- The classification system should be reformed so that the BBFC plays a larger role in classifying games.
Reception of the Review
The report has been generally well received by parenting groups, the government and the media industry. The videogames industry has however raised concerns over how increased classification will be funded, with some concerned that the BBFC does not have the capacity for such an increased workload.
UK newspaper reporting
On the day following publication of the report, most UK newspapers had a story on their front page outlining the classification system proposed. However, the way in which the stories were phrased, and in particular the conclusions drawn by the newspapers, were almost entirely at odds with the actual conclusions of the review.
During the week following publication, some UK newspapers devoted further space to demonising videogames, again reporting contrary to the conclusions drawn in the review. In particular, the Daily Mail devoted considerable space to minor research on possible correlation between playing video games and developing characteristics of Asperger syndrome. The piece in the newspaper was keen to imply that there was a causal relationship, rather than a mere correlation.
Subsequent Government Actions
In June 2008 the government published "The Byron Review Action Plan". This document set out how the recommendations of the Byron Review would be implemented across government.
In December 2009 the Prime Minister and the Children's Minister asked Tanya Byron to provide a progress review. Titled "Do we have Safer Children in a Digital World?", The Byron Progress Review was published in March 2010.
- "The Byron report: key points" from The Guardian Online
- "UK govt commits to delivering Byron recommendations on child internet safety" from Forbes
- One Life Left #70 news section
- Computer game addicts warned they could start behaving like autism sufferers
- "The Byron Review (2008) and the Byron Progress Review (2010)". UK Government Web Archive.