Risks and Safety for Children on the Internet: the Ireland report

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Survey finds Children in Ireland are responsible users of internet and mobile phone technologies

Children and young people in Ireland, as shown throughout the Risks and safety for children on the internet: the Ireland report, in many respects are among the leaders in most aspects on internet use compared to their counterparts from across Europe.

Use of the internet at home among Irish children is well above the European average (87% vs. 62%). Access via school or college is much the same (66% vs. 63%).

Using the internet ‘when out and about’ is also higher for children in Ireland than in Europe generally (21% vs. 9%) reflecting the growing popularity of mobile internet access through smartphones, laptops and other handheld devices.

53% of children use the internet daily or nearly daily. This rises to nearly three quarters of 15-16 year olds. But this is somewhat behind the European average of 60% and well below the high figures of 80% daily use reached among Northern European and Scandinavian countries.

Similarly in relation to time spent online, Ireland lies below European norms. Irish children spend just over one hour per day online (61 minutes). In the United Kingdom, by contrast, children spend about 50% more time online (99 minutes per day on average).

Curiously, even though Irish children are not amongst the heaviest users of the internet in Europe, they are among the highest when it comes to declaring some concern in relation to excessive use of the internet.

Some 43% of Irish children compared to 30% in European generally have suggested that their internet use has been at the expense of some other aspect of social or family life and which they regret.

One of the features to emerge strongly from the EU Kids Online survey is that parents overall do take an active interest in their children’s internet safety. The vast majority of parents (91%) mediate their children’s internet use in some way. This is above the European average of 87%.

Most parents (72%) stay close or watch their children when using the internet, particularly in the case of younger children.  Many parents also talk to their children about what they do online (67% overall and over 75% for younger children).

Parents are not the only adults with a responsibility to mediate children’s internet use or safety. A large majority report some form mediation by teachers (87%), more in terms of rule making (91%).  Significantly, 68% of children say their teachers have suggested ways to use the internet safely.

This is somewhat higher for older teenagers in the secondary school cycle. This is well above the European average of 58%. 61% say that their teachers explain to them why some websites are good or bad.  57% of children have been helped when they find something difficult on the internet.

The publication of the survey, entitled Risks and Safety for Children on the Internet: the Ireland report, marks today’s annual Safer Internet Day event, which is part of a global drive to promote a safer Internet for all users, especially young people.

The EU wide initiative is organised in Ireland by the National Centre for Technology in Education (NCTE) and promoted through the website Webwise.ie the Internet Safety initiative of the NCTE.

The survey found the following:

•    87% of Irish children still use the Internet at home in a living room or other public room, which is well above the European average (62%).

•    45% of respondents say they have spent less time than they should with friends, family or doing schoolwork because of time online. This is considerably higher than 35% on a European level. A similar proportion have tried unsuccessfully to spend less time on the Internet and felt bothered when they did not have access to the Internet

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Department of Education Office for Internet Safety insafe European Union National Parents Council PDST