The Council on Net Society and Children

The Council on Net Society and Children is a voluteer group formed in September 2004 with support from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG). It's 50+ members include NPOs, citizen and community groups, researchers, scholars, teachers, students, businesses, and governments interested in the topic of children in todayfs networked and increasingly mobile society. The current chairperson is Yoko Watanabe, a veteran educator and the president of a non-profit research institute on education.

The spread of the Internet and the incredible accessibility to information it brings is having a significant impact on children. There are at present over 75 million Internet users in Japan, a country with a population of about 1,300 million. In addition, keitai (cell phones that are also Web browsers, e-mail terminals and cameras) have become a new communication tool since 2000. There are around 100 million cell phones in and most of them are web-connected. Virtually all high school students aged 15-18 are keitai owners, and over half of elementary school children can use them„Ÿeven if they donft own one. Online exchanges via personal computers or keitai in the form of e-mail messages, chat groups, bulletin boards, blogs and social networking sites are now an indispensable part of many childrenfs lives.

The Internet is such a convenient and effective tool for information sharing. On the other hand, the Internet has a dark side: crime, net- or cyber-bullying, harassment and sexual exploitation through so-called deai-kei (encounter) sites where unknown participants exchange messages. Giving keitai to children is the same as giving them access to the world and giving the world access to them„Ÿany time and anywhere: Children, who are not worldly-wise, are frequent victims of net-related crime and predatory harassment.

The Council on Net Society and Children was formed to address these issues through the networking of citizens from various fields. Through both online and offline discussions, the Council has compiled proposals presented to the TMG which led to the revision of a Tokyo ordinance on the healthy development of the youth. Through our united efforts, knowledge and wisdom, we are committed to making proposals that can help to protect and empower both adults and children.

(October 14, 2008)