“The internet has broadened the opportunities and access we have to the world. Within a generation, we have moved from the creation of the internet to the daily use and reliance on online information. Seven out of ten of us use the internet every day; be it for news, entertainment, online shopping and staying in touch with friends and family.
“For the first time, Government has developed an Action Plan for Online Safety. This plan covers six Government Departments with five broad goals around individual supports, educational programmes at Primary and Post-Primary level, legislative changes and stakeholder engagement. To oversee all this, a new National Advisory Council on Online Safety will be chaired by Minister for State with responsibility for Digital Development Seán Kyne which will bring all the relevant Departments, stakeholders and organisations together.
“A key part of this is the creation on a single portal, www.gov.ie/BeSafeOnline, that Irish internet users can access for resources and information on how they can stay safe online. It also points users towards mental health supports, should they be required.”
“Parents often feel at sea when it comes to regulating internet use and helping their children stay protected in the online sphere. We are at a point where it is estimated that 50% of our 6 to 8 year old have access to a computer connected to the internet, so it is more important than ever for parents to be armed with the best advice and information. The new online service provides advice and resources for Parents, Guardians and Teachers on how to help young people be safe and to be alert of issues around bullying, inappropriate contacts or material and grooming.
“Sometimes reports of negative online experiences, from bullying to scams, can sometimes worry us but the benefits of the internet clearly outweigh the potential risks. However, it is important to inform yourself about how to stay safe online and protect your personal information,” concluded Fitzgerald.