That’s the view of Mallow-based Labour TD Sean Sherlock, who has said more young voices should be included in the debate on cyber-security as it is an issue that impacts predominantly on them more than other age groups.
Deputy Sherlock was speaking after he and other public representatives heard presentations on the subject from the youth organisation Comhairle na nÓg during debate held by the Oireachtas Committee on Children and Youth Affairs.
The committee heard that 25% of all children have come across harmful content online and that 11% have either seen of heard content of a sexual nature. It also heard that the due to a lack of education provided to young people the problem of ‘sexting’ was become more prevalent and there was a lack awareness of the legal issues surrounding that.
Deputy Sherlock said it was vitally important that the views and experiences of young people are heard in the debate about online security.
“Very often we hear from academia and industry, but the most important voices belong to the young people who are using the various online platforms,” he said.
“The speakers from Comhairle na nÓg have distilled their concerns with such clarity that it has given me, as a member of the committee, a clear sense of what we need to achieve now,” said Deputy Sherlock.
He maintained the input of young people would also help inform the attitudes of older people saying there was a ‘big gap’ in the minds of adults when it came to understanding the serious nature of the issue.
“I am an early adapter of technology, but I am probably in the minority. The majority of people do not feel confident about trying to reach in and understand what their children are doing online,” said Deputy Sherlock.
Praising the work of Comhairle na nÓg to date on cyber-security, Deputy Sherlock urged all schools in north Cork to engage with their students on the issue.
“This is a critical issue that we need to be addressed socially and legislatively,” he added.