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Education Minister John O’Dowd is encouraging young people to play their part in internet safety.

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Speaking on ‘Safer Internet Day 2016’, Minister O’Dowd said: “With the increasing use of digital technology, it is vital that our young people are aware of the potential dangers online and understand how to keep themselves safe.

“Events such as Safer Internet Day are an effective and important way to increase awareness of online safety.”

Safer internet day 2016 is themed ‘Play your part for a better Internet’ and young people in over 100 countries are considering what they can do to help make the internet a safer, kinder place.

The day offers the opportunity to highlight the positive uses of technology whilst exploring the role we all play in helping to create a better and safer online community.

Continuing the Minister said: “The internet is a rich source of information and entertainment and provides opportunities to learn and develop new skills. However, such progress in technology can also expose children to inappropriate material and threats from which they need to be protected.

“Safeguarding children is of paramount importance and C2k’s Education Network service, available to all pupils, has been designed with a clear focus on eSafety with built in controls to protect users as well as operating a rigorous internet filtering policy, however, we all have a role to play in continuing to highlight possible dangers.

“Teachers and parents play a crucial role in supporting children to navigate the risks and make the most of technology. Teachers can give pupils opportunities to use and create positive online content and at the same time give them the confidence and the skills to seek help should they encounter problems online. Parents can help by having a conversation and stay engaged with children’s digital lives.”

In conclusion, the Minister said: “I am currently taking the Addressing Bullying in Schools Bill through the Assembly which highlights that bullying can include the repeated use of electronic communication. We collectively need to take action to eradicate all bullying behaviour in our schools. Improving awareness of internet safety plays a key part and I would like to encourage all young people to get involved.”

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