Tuesday 17 September 2019

Government told to make online safety 'fourth pillar' of education system here


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Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

The Government is under pressure to make a commitment to bringing in the teaching of online safety of children as a "fourth pillar" of the Irish education system.

Cyber Safe Ireland has lobbied Fine Gael and other parties urging them to adopt a five-year strategy that includes a string of measures to protect children on the internet as part of their election manifestos.

It comes amid fears over the affect of privacy issues, internet pornography and online gaming on children.

Junior Education Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor was among politicians lobbied by the organisation's chief executive Alex Cooney.

Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and Labour TDs were also appraoched. The proposed strategy includes a push for a greater focus on educating children in online safety.

Cyber Safe Ireland's letter says it's essential children in primary and secondary level get a good digital literacy education and suggests it would become a "fourth pillar" alongside reading, writing and arithmetic.

Robust monitoring and regulation of online service providers is also called for and the letter said this could be in the form of the digital safety commissioner that the Government is planning.

It calls for a public awareness campaign on the scale of road safety advertising and a 24-hour helpline to offer advice on internet safety.

Ms Mitchell O'Connor's spokesperson said online safety is "an absolute priority for this Government".

She added: "Any proposals for inclusion in the next Fine Gael election manifesto will be considered by the minister in association with her colleagues in the party."

Irish Independent

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