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Ministers support cyber security message to protect children and young people online

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Executive Ministers have today issued a serious message to promote cyber security and keep children and young people safe online.

Safer Internet Day 2020 will see hundreds of organisations involved in helping to promote the safe, responsible and positive use of digital technology for children and young people. This year’s theme is “Together for a better internet”.

Speaking at a visit to Ashfield Girls’ School in Belfast, Education Minister, Peter Weir said: “Safer Internet Day is an opportunity to increase awareness of online safety for children and parents alike. We all know that the internet is a rich source of information and entertainment which provides many new and exciting opportunities for teaching and learning. However, it is vital that we are aware of the potential dangers and ensure that young people are protected and educated on appropriate and responsible usage.

“Safeguarding children online is of paramount importance. The C2k’s Education Network service which is available to all pupils, has been designed with a clear focus on Online Safety. It has built in controls to protect users as well as operating a rigorous internet filtering policy.

“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 engaging with their children and encouraging them to talk about any concerns.”

The deputy First Minister, Michelle O’Neill reinforced the message during a visit to Holy Trinity Primary School in Belfast. She said: “We all have a collective responsibility to ensure the wellbeing of our children and young people. In today’s digital age, keeping them safe online is a hugely important part of this. We need to help children to understand and protect against the risks of using the internet, as well as teach them about the importance of being kind and respectful to each other online.

“Education for young people and their parents about the possible dangers of being online, and how to avoid them, is key. I am really encouraged by the work going on at Holy Trinity in this regard. The school is leading the way in online safety education and has recently received two awards for its work in this area. I was delighted to join them to celebrate that success today.”

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