Tuesday, 18th September 2018
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Keeping a check

It is common knowledge that when it comes to technology, if you want to do something, just ask a young person to show you. They have grown up with all the technology that is around us at the moment and seem adept at using it in the easiest fashion possible. But just because young people are good at technology, does that mean that they should have unfettered access to all the sites and apps that are available to them today?

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has just come out and said that he and the Government are looking into the possibility of placing a restrictive age limit on smart phones in order to keep young people safe online. He didn't exactly come out and say that there will be a ban on young people using smart phones but did say that there will be a consultation period between all the key stakeholders surrounding the issue so that there could be some consensus regarding it.

It is quite clear that there are predators using the internet to contact children to groom them and exploit them. Just last week there was the case of the RTE sports producer who went over to England in an attempt to sexually abuse a child of 13. Luckily he was caught but there are surely others out there using the internet to contact young people with ulterior motives in mind. The point is that children rarely can tell whether it is a real person of their own age that is contacting them or an adult pretending to be a child, they don't have the sensibility to be even aware that someone could even be doing that in an attempt to sexually abuse them.

The plain fact of the matter is that young people have access to a whole world of information and entertainment but are not experienced enough in the ways of the world to know when they are putting themselves in danger. Recently there was a discussion that 13 years of age should be the level at which a child should have access to the internet on their own but as anyone would tell you no one at that age is mature enough to be able to navigate all the dangers that are online.

Then there is the other whole issue of online bullying which is made so much easier for children to become victims of those who are out to do them harm. The internet is a huge gateway for so much that can be positive in a child's life that it is difficult to say to them that they can't have access to it but at the same time there is a lot of danger out there that can cause them a lot of harm. Would it be so hard to keep a check on children and if that means curtailing their access to the internet for a few years then why should that be such a problem?

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