Opinion column – Life at Westminster with Sir Greg Knight

While children need to be encouraged to achieve computer skills, I believe they also deserve protective guidance.

While children need to be encouraged to achieve computer skills, I believe they also deserve protective guidance.

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Most of the work of the House of Commons does not take place in the Commons chamber.

Although the Chamber is the cockpit of debate – and the one arena that the press mainly focus on – most of the hard work is done upstairs in the Committee corridor where, at any one time, up to half a dozen committees or more will be sitting.

These committees go into considerable depth when examining an issue and often unearth some quite startling facts.

One fact I recently became aware of is that most children aged between five and 15 now spend more time online than they do watching television.

This makes it even more important that Parliament tackles the serious and growing issue of child exploitation online.

To address this, the Government has allocated £10 million to the National Crime Agency’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, which not only investigates such crimes, but also provides a range of age-specific guidance to young people, parents and professionals.

The Government is also seeking to safeguard children who are online via the Digital Economy Bill, which contains provisions to prevent under 18s accessing pornography on the internet by means of an age verification mechanism.

In recent years, digital skills have become increasingly important in the education curriculum and whilst many of today’s pupils will tomorrow undoubtedly have a promising career online, it surely makes sense to protect them from harm along the way.

As someone who believes in small government, I am always cautious about supporting new restrictions.

Whilst our children do need to be encouraged to achieve digital skills, I believe they also deserve protective guidance and that it is right that the Government puts in place appropriate safety measures for them.