The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)

In Real Life

Sex, body image, and big data in the House of Lords
Jayne Kirkham (APPG Clerk for CMF) reports...

On 26th November, a screening of Baroness Beeban Kidron’s new feature documentary In Real Life was arranged for the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children’s Media and the Arts at the House of Lords.

The documentary was first screened at the Toronto International Film Festival. It's recently had a successful, though limited run in cinemas across the UK, including a satellite-linked discussion event in October.  The DVD will be available to buy from January 2104.  As one reviewer commented: "This is not just a well-made film, it is the starting point of a vital discussion...” - a discussion, that is, about the online life of British teenagers. Hence our bringing it to the Palace of Westminster.

With the second reading in the Lords of the Online Safety Bill on the 6th December, and the Children and Families Bill moving to report stage on the 9th, this screening was both timely and important, taking the viewer on a journey from the bedrooms of British Teenagers to the world of Silicon Valley, and looking at what exactly the internet is doing to our children and how it is shaping their minds. Beginning with topics such as sex and body image, the footage was hard-hitting and provocative but nevertheless balanced. Baroness Kidron cannot be accused of being a luddite, but she is actively seeking ways to enhance the positive aspects of internet usage while limiting the negative.
Following the screening, there was a well-informed and useful discussion with  contributions from the NSPCC, Childnet, the Children’s Media Foundation, Sky TV, and research and marketing representation. There was plenty for the parliamentarians present to take forward and push at ministerial level, including questions about media literacy, better personal and social development education, parental responsibility and also corporate social responsibility (it was noted that the big international corporations such as Facebook, Apple and Google had declined to take part in the film). Chairing the discussion, Baroness Benjamin however reminded everyone that non-parliamentarians  also have a vital role to play, writing to their parliamentary representatives and members of the House of Lords, voicing their concerns and making recommendations.

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The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)