12 February 2014

Safer Internet Day

Today is Safer Internet Day.  You can visit the following website www.saferinternet.org.uk to find out about all the initiatives which are being taken to make the internet a safer place. 

Since the mid-1990s, the Internet has had a revolutionary impact on culture and commerce, including the rise of near-instant communication by electronic mail, instant messaging, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) "phone calls", two-way interactive video calls, and the World Wide Web with its discussion forums, blogs, social networking, and online shopping sites.

Over the years, not only has our internet use grown but the way in which we access the internet has also changed, with the invention of portable computer devices such as lap-tops, tablets, i-Pads and smartphones.  Whilst it could be argued, that the internet has generally had a positive impact on our lives as it has enabled us to connect with people from all around the world, it has facilitated the dispersal and accessibility of information, as well as providing educational benefits particularly to those people who use the internet for distance education.  However, there are those who might think that the effect of the internet has been rather insidious.  In so far as the harmful usage of the internet has been played down.  We need to protect and educate children, teenagers as well as the vulnerable people in our society about the negative effects of the internet such as, cyber bullying, paedophiles preying on children and teenagers in internet chat rooms, identity theft, the inappropriate anonymous comments left on virtual message boards, blogs and on social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter, the prolific availability of pornography, the internet gambling sites, the use of the internet by organised criminals and the decline of physical interaction between people.  All of these examples and many more besides can be sighted as negative impacts of the internet.  What is important, is that in a democratic society, we try to legislate towards the improper use of the internet by a minority of individuals and at the same time, respecting the rights and civil liberties of the majority.  Admittedly, this is a fine line which governments have to tread.  One would hope, that politicians would realise that the people do not want to live in a nanny state where governments and politicians decide which websites should be accessible to the public and which websites should be blocked.  Instead, the people want to have the freedom of choice, whilst at the same time they rely on their politicians to put adequate measures in place, to protect young children and teenagers under the age of 18 from accessing adult websites.

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