Northern Ireland report calls for better online protection

A report has called on the executive to do more to protect children using the internet and social media.

An estimated 80% of children go online every day, some for five hours or more.

Research carried out by the National Children’s Bureau (NCB) in Northern Ireland recommends a more co-ordinated approach by Stormont departments.

“Research found 25 different organisations in NI working to keep children and young people safe online,” NCB director Celine McStravick said.

“However, many of the NI organisations that do work on e-safety don’t make it clear on their websites what help they can offer and not all the organisations have the same messages.”

She added: “Risks to children and young people relate to four Cs – content, contact, conduct, and commercialism.

“We asked young people and parents how they would find help with e-safety issues.  Most young people had no problem finding information online but the search engines also directed young people to unhelpful and risky sites. Some parents said they might not always use the internet to find help on e-safety and might go to people or organisations they know instead. NCB look forward to working with everyone concerned to take forward the recommendations.”

The report makes the following recommendations:

  •     There should be an e-safety forum for NI.  The forum should develop e-safety messages, help support organisations that do work on e-safety and provide help for young people and their parents. The forum should also give children and young people an opportunity to have their say on e-safety issues;
  •     There should be one definition of e-safety that is clear and easy to understand; The four C’s of risk should be used to help show the different ways that children and young people can experience harm online;
  •     All the organizations need to do more work on internet safety so young people are better informed;
  •     The government departments in NI need to work together to make sure the right people are involved in work across the UK;
  •     A single plan should be produced in NI to keep children and young people safe when they are online; and
  •     The main e-safety messages from all organisations in NI should be the same and be easier to find.

You can access the report here.