SDLP Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan has highlighted the importance of the need for increased measures to support and protect children Foyle.
Mr Durkan will be speaking in a debate in the Assembly tomorrow calling on the Office of the Minister and Deputy First Minister to bring forward an Internet Safety Strategy for children. He said:
With 99% of children across the UK having access to the internet it is paramount that we ensure they are protected and aided while using it.
The internet is a powerful tool that can educate, assist growth and nurture development. However, while we recognise its benefits, it is vital we identify and prohibit its dangers.
Almost 50% of children aged 10-11 are currently on a social networking site. For most children of this age the sites are used to communicate with friends and socialise. Unfortunately, there are some children and adults that use such sites to bully, manipulate and in some cases for more sinister motivations.
It is necessary that we do all that we can to make children and young people aware of these potential dangers. Promote safety online and also teach children to recognise signs their safety may be compromised.
I hope that the Assembly can support parents and educational providers teaching children about online dangers by bringing forward an Internet Safety Strategy aimed at eradicating these problems. While we must stress the need to be safe online, we must also ensure that parents are confident to allow children to explore the web without worry or fear. We live in a digital age and as a Government we should support the increased digital capability of our young people. In order to advocate such support we must ensure there is a strong safety net in place for all our young people’s protection.