‘Children should spend more time online’, says former GCHQ chief

Robert Hannigan, the former head of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), has said that parents should allow their children to spend more time online, in order to “help the country develop better cyber skills”.

According to Tech Republic: “Parents in the UK who let their children spend all day glued to a tablet or smart phone may not be bad parents after all – in fact, they may be doing their part to help save the country from cyber security threats of the future.”

Hannigan’s thoughts came from research that claims children are now spending more time online than watching television.

Hanningan announced: “Parental guilt is driven by a failure to appreciate that life online and ‘real’ life are not separate: they are all part of the same experience.

“If we are to capitalise on the explosion of data that will come through the ‘internet of things’, and the arrival of artificial intelligence and machine learning, we need young people who have been allowed to behave like engineers: to explore, break things and put them together.

“Many parents are often fearful of the internet and technologies because they don’t understand them. While there are real dangers online, and children need to be protected from them, they also need the freedom to traverse the digital world and learn new things.”

Hanningan also suggested that parents should buy a computer kit, like the popular Raspberry Pi, in order to grow digital literacy.

Written by Leah Alger