Koulla Yiasouma, Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People

“The need for spaces online that are safe, welcoming and without judgement for children and young people is more apparent than ever. The sinister influence of people like Andrew Tate on our children is concerning not only because of how widespread it is but also due to how ardent his admirers appear to be.”
The social media experience that many of us are familiar with is often a far cry from how our young people interact online. On Saturday, Facebook celebrated its 19th birthday. Twitter will be 17 years old in July. For many adults, their thinking on social media is outdated – it is based on their own experiences of platforms that are older than their children.”
Unfortunately, in the absence of positive role models there are those who will fill this online gap – platforms which parents, guardians and teachers approach with confusion, or often don’t approach at all – using the lure of wealth and power to sow damaging and insidious ideas among young people about how they should conduct themselves in social and romantic relationships. We would not leave our children exposed to these influences in the physical world and we must not neglect our duty to guide them towards a positive path online.”
Safer Internet Day reminds us that we have a responsibility to meet children where they are online and encourage them to speak out about what they need to develop virtual spaces that are comforting and inclusive rather than competitive.”

Koulla Yiasouma

Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People