Kirsty Blackman MP
Shadow SNP Spokesperson for the Cabinet Office
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There are many hundreds, perhaps thousands, of articles out there about how technology can be used as a force for good.
Generally, these focus on “worthy” technological improvements.
We are well on our way to realising some of these improvements, with many very clever people turning their attentions to solving these problems.
Sometimes overlooked amidst all this, are the personal and societal benefits we can gain from being able to communicate and, indeed, play, in ways that were unimaginable 40 years ago.
I am one of the first generation who grew up online.
My Dad was an early adopter of home computing, queuing outside PC World when it opened and coming home with a huge, clunky machine running Windows 3.1. So, from primary school age I was using a PC – in addition to the Super Nintendo(SNES) that belonged to my brother.
As a child and teenager, I learned far more from being able to Ask Jeeves or Yahoo search than I did from the dusty set of out-of-date encyclopaedias sat on my Grandparents’ shelf.
As a fairly geeky scholarship child in a school where many of my peers had wealth I couldn’t comprehend, finding fellowship and friendship on the internet seemed easier and more natural than a lot of my real-life experiences.
Today, I still use the internet to communicate. When my child contracted a rare disease, I found a group of other parents whose children had the same illness. I learned to sew from YouTube videos. I learned to crochet from a blog. I play tablet and console games to relax. I play multiplayer games with my husband and children.
As we talk about regulating the internet, about the Online Safety Bill and how to protect children and adults from very real dangers, we need also to remember the good that technology can bring.
We need to ensure that any new regulation enables that fellowship, friendship and fun that has unquestionably changed my life and that of so many others for the better.
Each month we invite a leading member of the UK’s parliament to share their thoughts on technology and innovation in the UK.