Minister pledges to investigate website after deaths linked to cyber bullying02/11/2012 - 14:20:46
Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald has said that she will ask Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore to request that Latvian authorities investigate the safety standards used by the social networking website ask.fm.
The website, which is registered in Latvia, is at the centre of controversy following the deaths of two teenage girls, who took their own lives amid claims they were being bullied online.
It comes as European research shows that Irish parents are among the most restrictive when it comes to what their children do on the internet.
The issue of cyber bullying has made headlines in recent months following the deaths of 15-year-old Ciara Puglsey in Co Leitrim in September and 13-year-old Erin Gallagher in Co Donegal last weekend.
Both girls took their own lives following allegations of cyber bullying.
It has been claimed that both girls used the social networking site ask.fm.
Speaking earlier, the Minister Fitzgerald said that the site is of great concern to her.
"Obviously I'm very worried because if you have a site that doesn't have the kind of safeguards, for example, that Facebook have, and doesn't block and where you don't have a name policy, I'm obviously very concerned about it," she said.
Minister Fitzgerald has met with management at Facebook to discuss their safety practices and she intends to alert Latvian authorities to her concerns about ask.fm.
"I'm going to be asking Eamon Gilmore to take up with his Latvian counterparts why this site, ask.fm, can be registered there and you know, who's using it for advertising.
She added: "So it's really important that parents and schools and communities understand that there are differences in the sites."
The EU Kids Online study has found that Irish parents are among the most restrictive in Europe when it comes to what their children do online, with 95% of them imposing rules about internet use.
Head of the School of Media at DIT Brian O'Neill, who is involved with the study, said that Irish parents are too restrictive however, and simply banning a website may not always work.
"If it's [a case of] banning it or restricting it out of a lack of knowledge and fear, well then that is not in the child's best interests either,
"Children have to grow up into what is an open, global, interactive medium of the 21st Century."
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