A former British spy chief says parents should let kids spend more time online so they will learn vital cyber-skills, countering the conventional parenting advice

FILE - In this Tuesday Nov. 4, 2008 file photo, Robert Hannigan, right, then security adviser to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and British Ambassador to the Philippines Peter Beckingham, left, talks to the media outside a hotel in Makati city, Philippines. A former British spy chief says parents should let kids spend more time online so they will learn vital cyber-skills, a reversal of common parenting advice. Robert Hannigan, ex-head of electronic surveillance agency GCHQ, challenges "the assumption that time online or in front of a screen is life wasted." Writing in the Daily Telegraph on Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017, he says "we need young people to explore this digital world just as they explore the physical world." (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez, file)

- Associated Press
Friday, August 11th 2017, 15:11 pm EDT

LONDON (AP) — A former British spy chief says parents should let kids spend more time online so they will learn vital cyber-skills, countering the conventional parenting advice.

Robert Hannigan, ex-director of government electronic surveillance agency GCHQ, challenges "the assumption that time online or in front of a screen is life wasted."

Writing in Tuesday's Daily Telegraph newspaper, Hannigan said: "We need young people to explore this digital world just as they explore the physical world."

Hannigan, who stepped down earlier this year, says Britain desperately needs more computer scientists and engineers, and one way to produce them is for children to learn "through seeing and doing online."

He tells parents unable to drag their children away from screens: "Do not despair. Your poor parenting may be helping them and saving the country."

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Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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