Online bullying ‘among biggest issues facing young people’

A survey found that most children are positive about the internet and say there are good elements for their age.
Online bullying ‘among biggest issues facing young people’

By Cate McCurry, PA

People being nasty to each other and bullying online are the biggest issues that upset young people, new research shows.

A quarter of all girls said people being nasty to each other as the issue that most frequently upsets them.

The findings, published by Minister for Media Catherine Martin, found that 62 per cent of children and young people, aged nine to 17 years old, use social media.

This rises from a quarter of nine to 10-year-olds to nearly 90 per cent of 15 to 17-year-olds.

The details were published in a comprehensive report of a national survey of children, their parents and adults regarding online safety.

The report was commissioned following a recommendation by the National Advisory Council for Online Safety (NACOS) about the need for an up-to-date research.

The research consisted of three nationally representative surveys, one of children, one of their parents, and a separate survey of adults.

It found that most children are positive about the Internet and say there are good elements for their age.

Just under half of children say this is very true and 39 per cent say it is fairly true.

 

The research set out to determine how adults and children in Ireland use and access the Internet and the level of their digital skills, and to estimate the prevalence of online risks experienced by Internet users.

It also exposed how children and their parents or carers have different perceptions of children’s experiences.

Just over half of parents say they help their child when something bothers them on the internet.

This contrasts with 19 per cent of children who report telling a parent about issues that have upset them online.

More than 80 per cent of parents or carers say that they would most prefer to receive online safety information from the child’s school – with 60 per cent currently receiving information this way.

For adults, being contacted by strangers or someone they did not know is the most reported problem encountered online.

Catherine Martin comments
Catherine Martin speaking to the media in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

This is reported by 13 per cent of adults overall, while 8 per cent say this happens at least every month and 3 per cent at least every week.

Speaking at the launch, Ms Martin said the pandemic has brought “sharp focus” to the reality that the Internet is a key part of people’s lives.

“From working, schooling and creating from home, the Internet has enabled us to weather this crisis in ways which surprised us all,” the Green Party minister added.

“While the Internet has had a broadly positive impact on our society, there are, of course, risks, particularly to children.

“Some of these risks are extensions of existing offline phenomena, such as bullying. Others represent new challenges, such as image based abuse.

“This crucial report shines a light on how the people of Ireland, particularly children, use the Internet, the risks they face online, and how they respond to those risks.

“While illuminating both the positive and negative parts of the online world, the risks identified in this report underline the need for regulation, for example the prevalence of cyberbullying, particularly among 13 to 14-year-olds.

“The report also highlights the need for a holistic approach to online safety, involving educators, parents, carers and regulators.”

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