Childlinks Issue 1: Children and the Internet

Barnardos. (2008).Childlinks Issue 1: Children and the Internet.
Welcome to Barnardos’ first issue of ChildLinks for 2008, which explores the topic ‘Children & the Internet’. In many ways the Internet and the associated technologies such as mobile phones, social networking sites, instant messaging, games consoles etc. have been enmeshed in children’s lives. For the most part this is positive in terms of information, play, learning, communications and more. However, the Internet also has serious downsides for children. The range of articles presented in this issue of ChildLinks illustrate both the benefits and the dangers in relation to children and the Internet. The first article from Barnardos focuses on the use of the Internet and related technologies as a creative and therapeutic tool in working with children. Another article from the NCH in the UK presents insights gained from their research into the use of technologies with children with special needs. The common learning from both Barnardos and the NCH is that, while childcare workers and social workers may not be the most proficient in their use of computers/new technologies, where staff have been trained and have the necessary supports in place, children’s quality of life and their development can be enhanced through the use of the Internet and related technologies. The issue of children and harmful content on the Internet is explored in an article from Another insight into harmful use of the Internet is included in ‘Child Abusive Images on the Internet & Operation Ore’, which presents a very revealing and disturbing account of child pornography from the perspective of a child protection investigator in the UK. Cyberbullying is another downside of the Internet. It is a term often misunderstood, feared by parents and about which there is little research in Ireland. Dr. Stephen Minton’s article explores the forms of cyberbullying and presents international research findings as well as strategies for dealing with it. The final article from the NCTE focuses on Internet Safety skills. It is a truism to say that our children are way ahead of their parents in this area of life and education for both parents and children in Internet safety skills has a vital role to play. Finally, the recent establishment of the Office for Internet Safety by the Minister for Justice Brian Lenehan is to be welcomed. However, the decision to set up the accompanying Internet Safety Advisory Council as an advisory body on a non-statutory basis is disappointing. It is imperative that all of the necessary legislative back-up is in place to ensure that, as far as possible, children are protected in this fast changing Internet world.