Author: Ryan Meade
Ryan is Government Affairs & Public Policy Manager for Google in Ireland and is a member of the National Advisory Council on Online Safety.
The internet has provided an essential form of communication and entertainment during the Coronavirus pandemic. Families have had to face a new reality, of juggling work, school, and play from home. It has become evident that online tools can make the adjustment a bit smoother but as we are all spending more time on our devices, it is now more important than ever that we know how best to stay safe online.
For many children and young people, mobile phones, apps and games are a constant presence, with the distinction between offline and online relationships becoming increasingly blurred. While online apps and games provide many opportunities and benefits for young people, they also potentially expose them to risks.
At Google, we think deeply about these issues – and we want to ensure that everyone has positive experiences online. We run education programs all over the world together with non-profits and expert partners to make the internet a safer place for young people. More broadly, our goal is to make useful products that enhance people’s lives – and it’s important to understand the different roles different technologies play. It’s more important than ever that we ensure we are knowledgeable about issues like cyberbullying, being accountable online and the potential effects of children spending a lot of time online. At Google, we’re finding ways to help children make smart choices and protect themselves online, and helping parents find the right balance for their families.
Last September Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh TD with our CEO Sundar Pichai unveiled a €1 million Google.org grant for online safety training with Barnardos, Ireland’s largest children’s charity. The grant is helping Barnardos bring its Online Safety Programme workshops to more than 75,000 Irish children over the next four years.
Barnardos Online Safety Programme Online Safety Programme provides interactive classes for children and young people, teachers, parents and professionals on internet safety and cyberbullying. One of the goals is to promote ongoing communication between children and adults on these topics. Google and Barnardos have a shared concern about internet safety. By working together we can reach more children, parents and teachers to support better internet education and improved communication.