Farrell calls for greater awareness of online risks to children on Safer Internet Day

A Fine Gael TD has said parents and guardians need to be more vigilant regarding their children’s use of social media and other online platforms.

Speaking on Safer Internet Day 2018, Chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Children and Youth Affairs, Alan Farrell, said: “Reports of children being groomed online and young people being bullied by their peers are unfortunately becoming increasingly frequent in the Ireland of today. It is vital that we take the necessary steps to ensure our children are protected online.

“Social media can have great benefits in terms of allowing us to keep in touch with friends and relatives we might not otherwise see regularly. However it can also be used, by a minority of people, for alarming and menacing reasons, particularly when directed towards our younger, more vulnerable, generations.

“The Oireachtas Children and Youth Affairs Committee has engaged with a number of stakeholders on the issue of cyber-bulling and online grooming.

“Over the past number of weeks, I have also been contacted by a number of parents who are very concerned about the online risks facing their children. I believe it is of the utmost importance that we all, whether it be as parents, guardians, teachers or legislators, educate ourselves on the dangers posed by social media use, particularly in terms of online grooming and cyber-bullying.

“This is not an issue which can be resolved by burying our heads in the sand – it is only by educating ourselves that we can best protect our children and younger people.

“On Safer Internet Day, I would not only encourage parents and guardians to be more vigilant of the internet and social media usage of our young people, but also to engage with our younger generations to ensure they are aware of the risks, and the supports they can seek should they be the victim of cyber-bullying or online abuse.”