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Cyber Safe Ireland urges next Government to take cyberbullying seriously

Provisions around tackling cyberbullying should form part of the next Programme for Government.

Cyber Safe Ireland is urging Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party to take the issue seriously after an international study found Irish teens witness high amounts online.

The World Health Organisation report listed Irish 13 and 15-year-olds in the top 10 for both problematic social media use and cyberbullying experiences.

Sociology Lecturer and Waterford IT Jill O'Mahony outlined why cyberbullying could be so prevalent.

She said: "Out in the real world if you're talking to a group of friends and you start saying nasty things about one of them,

"You know you are going to get negative feedback. Online they have a platform whereby they can say negative things and not get the repercussions."

The WHO report, “Spotlight on adolescent health and well-being”, outlines a decline in mental health and well-being as adolescents grow older, with girls particularly at risk of having poor mental well-being outcomes, compared to boys.

One in four adolescents in the study have reported feeling nervous, irritable or having difficulties getting to sleep at least once a week, with a substantial variation across countries indicating that cultural, policy and economic factors may play their parts in fostering positive mental health.

The study also examines the growing use of digital technology in these changes, being seen as amplifying existing problems and introducing new one, such as cyberbullying, which disproportionately affects girls.

Over 1 in 10 adolescents in the study reported having been cyberbullied at least once in the past two months.

"Online they have a