Mitchell O’Connor urges parents to engage with children about online activity
Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire Deputy, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has today (Wednesday) called on parents to fully engage with their children about their internet activity in a bid to ensure their safety online.
Deputy Mitchell O’Connor was speaking following the publication of a report by security company, McAfee, which outlined that more than half of the 200 Irish teenagers who were surveyed admitted to wiping their browsing history in order to hide online behaviour from their parents.
“By clearing their internet history in a bid to conceal exactly what they having been doing online, children have no idea of the line of fire they may be putting themselves in. While the world has irrevocably changed in the last 20 years, many children’s belief that they can handle themselves and identify hazardous situations most likely has not.
“But the grim reality is that 20 years ago, when a 14 year old girl was talking to a 15 year old boy she knew that to be the case. Today, a 14 year old girl can assume that she is chatting with a 15 year old boy online, when in fact it is a 60 year old man she is engaged in conversation with.
“The internet has added to our lives in ways we cannot measure. But it is an incredibly dangerous place, especially for our young people, who, irrespective of their maturity, are incapable of identifying the surreptitious and stealthy actions of adults who are intent on engaging them in activities unsuited to their years.
“Our young people are also exceptionally vulnerable when it comes to dealing with the level of aggression and abuse they may come into contact with in chat rooms and via other fora.
“I am urging parents to talk to their children about their on-line behaviour and to impress upon them the need to be open and transparent about their activities. Going online with your child and role playing with them about what they would do in certain situations, if they came across something inappropriate or upsetting, is a good way to communicate with them and to give them the tools to enable them to cope.”