Minors able to easily view adult Web content, says Taiwan study

TAIPEI - Various children and youth welfare groups held a press conference yesterday urging the Taiwanese government to improve the current gatekeeping system for R18 (restricted for persons under 18 years of age) content on the Internet.

As technology and the Internet develop, it is getting easier for children and those under 18 to view inappropriate content. Therefore, the government attempted to prevent this phenomenon by categorising online content and setting up an R18 gatekeeper. However, Cheng Wei-sheng, a representative from a children and youth counseling centre, claimed that the government's efforts are not effective.

According to Cheng, children and youth can pass the gatekeeping system simply by claiming to be over 18 years old. He also said that if violent and pornographic contents are spread by social networks like Facebook, it will be even easier for children and youth to access the information.

Yeh Da-hua, secretary-general of The Taiwan Alliance for Advancement of Youth Rights and Welfare (TAAYRW) pointed out that it is a serious issue since children and youth might imitate the inappropriate content they find online. Moreover, she said that there are more suicide cases in Western countries because of Internet bullying. Therefore, she is also worried about increasing Internet bullying cases in Taiwan.

Yeh indicated that their questionnaire results also showed that 50 per cent of junior high school students and 30 per cent of high school students think that there should be a system to protect children and youth from inappropriate online content. Therefore, the National Communications Commission (NCC) should listen to these voices and review the present system to make improvements. She suggested that in order to solve this problem, it is important to teach children and youth the right way to use the Internet.

The research was carried out through questionnaires by various children and youth welfare groups focusing on 1,147 high school and junior high students in Northern Taiwan.