Parents buying games consoles, smartphones and computers for children this Christmas are being urged to consider in advance how they’re going to keep their youngsters safe online, as most devices nowadays can connect to the Internet. That’s the message from Virgin Media and the National Parents Council who have announced they will co-sponsor a series of Internet Safety classes to be delivered nationwide over the next three years to parents of primary schoolchildren.
The new initiative was launched by Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O’Sullivan, T.D., together with Tony Hanway, CEO Virgin Media Ireland and Áine lynch, CEO of the National Parents Council (Primary).
Pictured at the launch of the Three Year Internet Safety Drive for Parents sponsored by Virgin Media Ireland were Tony Hanway, CEO Virgin Media Ireland, Áine lynch, CEO of the National Parents Council, Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O’Sullivan, T.D with children Sara Dunne and Jackson Kaneswaran. Picture Conor McCabe Photography.
Supported by Virgin Media, the National Parents Council has developed a programme to update parents on the latest Internet trends and how to keep children safe online.
The programme will educate parents about online developments and will encourage dialogue between parents and children on appropriate use of the Internet. Seminars will be available to parents free of charge and will be delivered in primary schools and selected public venues across the country from next year.
Jan O’Sullivan, TD, Minister for Education and Skills said, “Technology and use of the Internet is embedded in all aspects of our lives, and is bringing our society new advantages and solutions every day. Together with the web, technology can be used as a very effective learning tool, bringing learning to life in a fun and creative way. However, it is imperative that we ensure children are aware of the risks associated with using the Internet. The Three Year Internet Safety Drive will ensure that parents are equipped with the necessary information to safeguard their children online.”
Aine Lynch, CEO, National Parents Council (Primary) said, “We delighted that Virgin Media has become our national partner in this very important initiative. Technology is a fantastic gift for any child which brings many benefits for their intellectual growth and development. It’s also great fun and that includes the networking aspects of devices where children can interact, play games, and be social with their friends.
“With the proliferation of highly mobile Internet devices, more and more children are going online in the privacy of their bedroom or out and about, away from direct parental supervision. Parents need to start a conversation as early as possible with their children around online activity that is both age appropriate, respectful of others and individually safe. That includes moderation and explanation around the content they are viewing, access to account passwords and filtering where necessary. Parents have hectic lives and this is just one further task on their hands, but it’s a truly important job that is very significant for the wellbeing of their children.”
Virgin Media CEO Tony Hanway said: “Technology and the web offer children a world of opportunity but very often children are more technology savvy than their parents or teachers. Protecting children online is just as important as protecting them offline. This joint initiative will help parents guide and support their children in today’s digitally enabled world. The classes given by the National Parents Council will educate parents on ways they can protect their children online.
This is the latest initiative from our digital inclusion programme which is designed to raise awareness and help children to stay safe and enjoy the benefits of the online world. Other projects include Virgin Media One Click Parental Controls and various educational programmes offered under the auspices of the Safer Internet Day.”
10 TIPS TO KEEP CHILDREN SAFE ONLINE
- Talk to your child about what they do on the internet – What sites they are interested in, what games they enjoy
- Get informed, read up on Internet safety issues from trusted sources
- Ask your child to show you their favourite sites
- Know how many ways your child has access to the internet – phone, tablets, X Box, Smart TV or any web enabled device
- Do things online together
- Set ground rules with your child about using the internet – time limits, mobile phone staying downstairs when they go to bed, etc
- Have a presence on social media yourself
- Talk to your child about what to do if they get a message they are not comfortable with – don’t respond – keep message – block the sender – Tell an adult you trust
- Talk to your child about their internet use when they are out of the home or with friends
- Don’t forget there are very positive aspects to using the internet and that they far outweigh the negatives.