Surf the net safely - McIlveen
By Alida Browne
NORTH Antrim MLA David McIlveen spoke out this week about the dangers of unmonitored use of the internet by children.
Mr McIlveen has warned that social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook can be a tool used for bullying and can also be used by sexual predators to groom victims.
He has called on the Minister of Justice to identify ways in which these sites could be more closely monitored and implement tougher penalties for people who use these sites for such crimes. Mr McIlveen said: “We have to be very clear about the fact that bullying in any form has to be condemned. We have to send out that message loud and clear. We have to accept, though, that this will be a difficult nut to crack.
“Children have grown up with access to the internet, and, rather than visiting the internet, they live within the internet. It is their social life and it is where they go to meet their friends and talk to them. In many ways, that is good and makes communication much easier, but it makes things very open to being manipulated and to being exploited for negative effect,” said Mr McIlveen.
He added: “The Department of Education has claimed that 15.5% of Year 6 and 17% of Year 9 pupils have recently been bullied on social networking sites. Many people have claimed that the increased rate of suicide among young people is due to bullying and manipulation experienced online. Despite this, the current law is not tough enough on cyber-crime and bullying. The PSNI investigate five crimes a day involving Facebook and Twitter but due to international law protecting our right to freedom of expression, the perpetrators are rarely prosecuted.”
The solution to this Mr McIlveen says, is to deal with the issue primarily at home.
He said: “Parents can download parental controls for free to manage their child’s use of the internet. I encourage parents to monitor what their children do and who they talk to on social media sites. Also, make sure their pages are private so that photos and information cannot be viewed by strangers. Lastly, parents can encourage their children to visit the ‘Think U Know’ website at http://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/ which has helpful advice for children on how to surf the net safely.”
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Saturday 18 May 2013
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