Local DUP MLA Sydney Anderson has highlighted the importance of internet safety for children and young people and has called on parents and schools to be vigilant.
Mr Anderson said: “In our world today the internet has a prominent place in many people’s lives including that of our children and young people. The internet has many positive aspects and can greatly assist with our young peoples’ education but there are also many dangerous and sinister elements lurking online.
“As such it is vital that parents and schools do all they can to encourage children and young people to tread carefully when they are online. Young people need to be aware of the dangers of cyber bullying and online grooming and should encouraged to tell an adult if they are concerned or annoyed about something they have encountered whilst on the Internet.”
He continued: “Notably, a recent YouGov poll revealed that 91% of children are using the Internet at least once a week by the time they are eight years old, even though on average parents usually only start to discuss online dangers with their children when they are aged nine.
“It is vital that children and young people are aware of the importance of safe Internet usage because nobody wants to see them getting hurt through evils such as cyber bullying.”
Sydney Anderson MLA added: “Our schools have a pivotal role to play in promoting safe Internet use and in also encouraging our children and young people to report incidents of cyber bullying or other internet activity they are concerned about to their school and if appropriate to the PSNI to ensure that the matter is properly addressed.
“I know that a lot of our schools have taken action to heighten awareness of online dangers and this has to be welcomed. However, we cannot grow complacent and we must continue to focus on addressing issues such as cyber bullying.
He concluded: “Ultimately there needs to be joined up approach of schools, political representatives, and the community at large to ensure that are young people are safe online.
“I am fully committed to lobbying the relevant government departments on this matter and will continue to do so as we move forward.”