Cyber Safe Ireland’s recently published 2016 annual report gave considerable cause for concern for a number of reasons. The report focused on children between the ages of 11 and 13 in Wicklow and Dublin, revealing some alarming statistics regarding their internet use.
While 19% of the 2,321 children surveyed for the report said they spent in excess of 4 hours online a day, 28% said they were in contact with a stranger online occasionally, or some even every day.
This is further unsettling as countless minors have unsupervised access to the internet due to the increased use of smart phones among Ireland’s children today. Many parents do not know what their children are doing online, or who they are in contact with.
The report also found that 84% of teachers surveyed for the report do not cover online safety as part of the curriculum, while 64% said that they do not feel they have sufficient resources to effectively deliver educational messages on internet safety.
These results are worrying and therefore, I am urging the government to invest in increased and improved cyber safety education in schools nationwide to protect against the steadily growing dangers of the internet as an increased number of young children gain access to the internet than ever before.
I also encourage parents to familiarise themselves in issues relating to cyber-safety, and to be aware of what their children are getting up to online.