Call for internet safety strategy for children

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Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan has called for the implementation of an internet safety strategy for children.

The SDLP MLA made the call today, National Internet Safety Day adding that he hoped the Assembly “could support parents and educational providers teaching children about online dangers by bringing forward an Internet Safety Strategy aimed at eradicating these problems”.

Mr. Durkan, MLA 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,” continued the politician. “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.

“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.”