The internet is central to our everyday lives and those of our children. It can be a positive, fun place to interact with the world, with endless possibilities for learning and socialising. However, in enjoying the internet, we must also be aware that there
are individuals and organisations that take advantage of the relative freedom the online environment provides, and that sadly, irresponsible and inappropriate use of the internet can often place children and young people at risk of harm.
The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that our children and young people are successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens. Equally, we want to make sure that we improve the life chances of those children and young people in our communities who are at risk. So while we want young people to enjoy the internet and all that it has to offer, we also want them to stay in control and know what to do and who to go to if they feel at risk. This means working together with practitioners, parents and industry to build resilience and understanding amongst our children and young people about how to stay safe online. Too often we differentiate between the risks associated with the internet and those that we face in our day to day lives. But more often than not the same principles apply to keeping ourselves safe online as they do offline. As children grow and learn about the opportunities that the internet presents, at the same time they need the support of responsible adults around them to learn and understand what is suitable and responsible behaviour online. By supporting our young people in this way, we can help them take full advantage of all the benefits that the internet can offer, whilst keeping themselves safe at the same time.
The Scottish Government is taking steps which will improve the safety of our children and young people in the online environment. This Plan outlines a series of actions which I believe can help us meet this aspiration. It builds on the UK-wide Strategy for Child Internet Safety published in December of last year and will, once implemented, help to make our young people’s approach to the internet more safe and responsible. The Plan has been developed in partnership with a dedicated Scottish Stakeholder Group, and we remain committed to working with stakeholders and partners as we look to further develop and deliver policy and practice in this area moving forward. I believe that this Plan provides us with a sound platform for making real progress. That being said, we should not feel restricted by its content.
The internet is developing every day, and as such, we need to remain alive to these changes, and be flexible with our approach. These shifting boundaries provide us with real opportunities as well as challenges and I look forward to working with partners to develop policy and practice in this area in order to ensure that Scotland’s children and young people continue to enjoy the internet and all it has to offer.
Adam Ingram MSP
Minister for Children & Early Years