Glasgow South MP Tom Harris has joined Virgin Media’s ‘Our Digital Future’ initiative, discussing what’s to come in an increasingly digital society.
Answering questions from Sir Richard Branson in a video interview, the MP, who represents Croftfoot, King’s Park and Castlemilk, talked of the need to increase access to affordable broadband for Glasgow, how people must not fear the internet, and how connectivity can boost democracy and improve people’s lives.
As part of the interview, Mr Harris said: “As a Glasgow MP, my primary concern is very practical: we have one of the lowest rates of internet connection anywhere in the UK so we need to get as many of my constituents online as easily and cheaply as possible.
“This could prove life-changing to so many people – the internet is the biggest democratic weapon we have as citizens.”
Virgin Media’s Our Digital Future study of 2000 Brits found 70 per cent of Scots think the country would be better off if more people knew how to get the most from the internet, but alarmingly only one in 10 Scots have taken action to limit their children’s online behaviour.
He added: “The biggest difference the web has made to my life and the lives of my colleagues is that politics is now online.
“People don’t have to watch the House of Commons to find out what MPs are talking about.”
Harris said of protecting children online: “I understand parents’ concern and the threat the internet poses, particularly to children.
“My concern is that the media and large parts of the political establishment simply see the internet as a threat to children and very little more than that. The internet is so big and so amazing I think it’s ashame if we allow ourselves to think that it is simply a threat.
“Of course we need to legislate and put safeguards in place but we must also teach our children how to navigate the internet. People should not be scared of the internet but should embrace it because it can change their lives for the better.”
He continued: “If anyone says they know exactly how the web is going to develop I would immediately say that they’re wrong. It will develop in ways we don’t expect.
“What I can say confidently is that it will be just as, if not more, necessary in our lives in the future.”
Virgin Media’s Our Digital Future study also revealed only 34 per cent of Scots felt they could control what people saw about them on social networks and 28 per cent of Scots admitted to using unofficial or illicit downloading or streaming sites.