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Digital age of consent should be realistic about young people’s internet usage

The Ombudsman for Children, Dr Niall Muldoon, has welcomed the decision by cabinet to set the digital age of consent at 13.

“Setting the digital age of consent at 13 years of age takes a more realistic view of children and young people’s internet use, and of the integral role that the online environment plays in their lives. This is the view we expressed in submissions on the Digital Age of Consent, and also on the General Scheme of the Data Protection Bill 2017.

“Choosing 13 as the digital age of consent is in keeping with international children’s rights standards as it allows for the balancing of the different rights that children have. It also acknowledges the opportunities, as well the risks that the online environment presents to children and young people.

“Alongside the decision on the digital age of consent, it is vital that there is a focus on educating young people, and supporting them, to develop their digital literacy and awareness.

“I believe that the Government and the Department for Education and Skills should consider mainstreaming digital literacy in primary and secondary schools across the country.

“There is no doubt that the internet, and protecting our children while they are online, are presenting major challenges to parents, governments, businesses and society in general. However, there is no turning back the clock.

“We must support our young people to be safe and responsible internet users so that they can recognise and avail of the opportunities presented to them online.”

You can access the OCO submission on the Data Protection Bill 2017 here.


Aoife Carragher
Ombudsman for Children’s Office
01 8656806