13 Jan 2006

Mr Williams is receiving an international award for “outstanding contribution with international impact to the awareness of social implications of information technology”, at the Institut d’Informatique, Namur, Belgium.

“I am delighted to receive this award from such a prestigious international organisation,” he said. “And I am very pleased that I will be able to use the opportunity to highlight how the internet is becoming an everyday part of all our children’s lives.”

The Commissioner will be delivering a lecture to the International Federation for Information Processing Working Group on Computers and Social Accountability.

The lecture will examine how children and adults use the internet in different ways, and is entitled “A Parallel Universe – Children and Young People’s Love Affair with the Internet.”

“Adults and children use the internet very differently, and we all need to be aware of those differences, not just to make sure that children and young people are safe online, but to make sure the internet can be something that allows them to explore new ways of communicating.

Recent UK research showed that 31% of young people had received unwanted sexual comments online, but only 7% of parents were aware this had happened (UK Children Go Online Project, LSE)

“The internet is somewhere children and young people are active, where they have access to information, where they have acceptance, where they can work in new ways, communicate in new ways, where there are risks and where there are opportunities.

“Adults work online in a very different way – and we need to be aware of the differences. I hope that this award and lecture is just one way that we can become more aware about each others ways of working online. This is an example of an area where we adults have much to learn from young people."

Notes for Editors

More information on the work of the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People can be found here on the web site, a copy of Mr Williams lecture is also available from 13th January, 2006.

The International Federation for Information Processing Namur Award is a biennial award to be accorded for an outstanding contribution with international impact to the awareness of social implications of information technology. The purpose is to draw attention to the need for an holistic approach in the use of information technology in which the social implications have been taken into account. The Namur Award consists of a commemorative plate and a certificate