Yesterday is was widely reported that Fine Gael TD Jim Daly, who is chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Children and Youth Affairs, is drafting new legislation on internet access for minors.
Provisions of this new draft legislation include fining parents for allowing their children own mobile phones with unrestricted access to the internet and could also see retailers facing fines if they sell such devices to children under 14.
Zeeko, an Irish EdTech start-up which works with parents to teach their children to stay safe online, believes that education is key to internet safety.
Zeeko, founded by Joe Kenny in 2013 is headquartered at NovaUCD, the Centre for New Ventures and Entrepreneurs at University College Dublin and is an Enterprise Ireland high-potential start-up (HPSU) company.
Joe Kenny, Zeeko, founder and CEO, commented, “The Internet is an integral part of young people’s academic, professional and personal lives with many benefits such as enhanced self-esteem, expression of identity, enhancement of interpersonal relationships and social interactions among others.”
He added, “We know from our last survey of over 4,400 primary school children that 86% of them use a mobile device (smart phone, tablet or iPod). We need to empower young people through education to develop self-coping and self-protection strategies. Similar to road safety, we do not let our children just cross the road we teach our children to cross the road. Parents need to strike the balance between restricting internet access as a safety measure and encouraging internet access as a learning strategy.”
He concluded, “While there maybe scope for legislation in this area, especially if it creates more awareness of the issues among parents, the key is to take away the risk but not the learning. Ultimately, children need critical thinking skills to be prepared for risks online that do not yet exist, technologies that have not yet been invented and problems that are not yet recognised.”
Between July 2016 and June 2017 Zeeko will deliver internet safety seminars in primary schools, secondary schools and companies to over 60,000 pupils, 2,900 teachers and 6,000 parents.
Last year Zeeko successfully ran a crowdfunding campaign to publish the Zeeko Internet Safety Guide. A free digital copy of the guide was sent to every primary school in Ireland.