To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the extent to which modern technological advances will be utilised to prevent or track Internet bullying; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
– Bernard J. Durkan.
* For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 17th July, 2014.
Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Mr. Alex White T.D.)
I share the Deputy’s concern in relation to the possibility that the proliferation of internet connectivity may well expose children to bullying and harassment online. The Internet Content Governance Advisory (ICGA) Group was established within my Department in December of last year to ensure our national policy represents best practice in offering the same online protections to our citizens as those available in the offline world.
The Group’s report was approved by Cabinet and published last month and makes several recommendations aimed at protecting children and young people without unduly limiting their opportunities and rights online. Along with changes to institutional, administrative and legal structures, the report makes four specific recommendations on cyberbullying aimed at providing stronger supports for tackling this issue through primary and post-primary curricula and additional training and awareness measures.
In terms of the prevention and tracking of cyberbullying, our most immediate and important task now is to help educate children, young people and parents as to the risks that can be found online, to support parents and teachers in explaining these issues to children and to identify the optimal technical solution to protect children. In this regard, there are a range of tools available online to assist parents in managing internet access. The ISPs themselves have a variety of measures and resources already in place, with software and other tools available to help parents ensure online safety for their children.