Internet not safe for children

The Press 04 May 2009

Leaving children unsupervised on the internet is like giving them the keys to a Porsche and letting them loose on the motorway, Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff says. Privacy Awareness Week began yesterday, with events focused on two privacy hotspots: the security of official information and internet awareness for young people. Shroff said cases like that of Kaiapoi man Malcolm Spark who last week was jailed for 2 1/2 years for offences that stemmed from his prowling through internet chatrooms and enticing underage girls into discussions about sex highlighted the dangers the internet posed.

“Children need to realise it’s not a safe, secret playground,” Shroff said. “Young people don’t particularly understand the reasons for the road code, so why should they understand the need for discretion and care and privacy on the internet? They are going to have to learn this. “We are going through an explosive phase in technology and global information, and we have hardly started yet in knowing how to make sure that gets done according to normal human rules, human rights and social considerations.” People were not thinking through the ramifications of what they posted online, Shroff said.