Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children Charlie McConalogue TD has highlighted the need for parents to remain vigilant of their children’s internet use due to the rapid changes in online trends. Deputy McConalogue has said there is a need for increased awareness among adults of the new risks posed by constant advancement of internet technology.
“There can be no complacency when it comes to internet use among children. Online trends develop and change rapidly so it is hugely important that parents and teachers keep a constant eye on how their children engage online,” said Deputy McConalogue.
“While the internet opens up a world of exciting and positive opportunities for children, it can also expose them to dangers that may not always be obvious on the surface. Predators are constantly developing new methods of reaching their victims in ways that can appear harmless and non-threatening. Emerging technology also facilitates the growth of cyber bullying, providing bullies with new forums and methods to inflict pain on others.
“All of this poses huge concerns for parents, many of whom are daunted by the technology that their children are so familiar with. Because the internet is always evolving, it can be difficult for parents to know if their supervision is adequate. But there are some simple steps they can take to help their kids to stay safe online, available from the Office for Internet Safety which was set up by the previous government.
1. Educate yourself in the basics of internet technology. Simple, regular online interaction will vastly improve your understanding about your children’s online interaction.
2. Protect your child’s privacy by teaching them the importance of not giving out personal information on social networking sites. Remember that the details uploaded on to sites like Facebook can be accessed by others.
3. Beware of strangers. A healthy suspicion of strangers should also apply online. People may not always be who they seem, so you cannot assume that what the information they have provided is true.
4. Talk to your children regularly about their favourite internet activities and their online friends. Regular conversation about their online interaction can add to your family’s enjoyment of the internet.
5. Beat cyber bullies by reporting any evidence of online bullying to the relevant website moderators and to school authorities or the gardaí if necessary. Teach your children not to respond to any bullying attempts but to save the evidence instead.
Deputy McConalogue continued, “Children’s charities like the ISPCC and Spunout.ie must be commended for their work in this area to date. They invite any parent or young person with concerns about internet activity to contact them.”