Hastings Observer Column - 26 April

The internet has the potential to transform lives, but it can also be a dangerous place for our young people.

Like with all things, we need to strike the right balance.

So that’s why I think it is important that children in Hastings are properly educated on the opportunities it can offer, but also the dangers they may face while online.

This is why I am delighted to host Google and ParentZone at Sandown Primary School in Hastings, where schoolchildren are learning how to protect themselves online in a fun and straight-forward way.

The Be Internet Legends programme first got started in Hastings back in 2017, when I visited Christ Church Primary Academy and it is helping to ensure the safety of our young people online and I will continue to promote these programmes in our towns as the MP so every child and parent can feel comfortable online.

At the start of the year, I promoted a similar event at the Hastings Academy which was aimed at educating older students on how to use the internet for good.

At a time when more and more things are online, it taught useful skills such as how to identify fake news and deal with internet trolls – both of which can be damaging to young people. I believe that teaching schoolchildren to interact positively and with respect online is just as important as our interactions we have face to face: It is often easy to forget that there is another person at the other end of a screen.

Internet safety is important for more people than just schoolchildren; it is a matter of national security.

Whilst I was Home Secretary, I travelled to Silicon Valley on your behalf to speak to Google and other tech giants to urge them to crack down on terrorism, much of which starts and is planned online. It is good to see these companies taking action, but I want to hear your experiences too.

So if you’re a parent with concerns and want to learn more about how to protect your children online, please do get in touch with me so we can work together to help keep everyone safe.