A survey carried out by CyberSafeIreland found that 32 percent of children have rarely ever or never spoken to their parents about staying safe online.


CyberSafeIreland is a charity set up in 2015 to offer expert guidance on the safe and responsible use of all communications technologies to children, parents and primary schools.


Recently, CyberSafeIreland surveyed a group of 1,000 parents, children and teachers and the results were quite alarming.


Every parent worries about their children talking to strangers online and judging by the results of this study, this is not an unfounded worry.


Out of the 621 children surveyed, most of whom were under 13, 16 percent are spending more than 4 hours online and  22 percent are in contact with a stranger online.



14 percent talk to strangers on a weekly basis while playing games online or accepting social media requests from strangers. 


Unfortunately, while a child may believe they are talking to another young child or teen online, the reality could be a lot more sinister.


CyberSafeIreland’s Programme Director and Cybercrime investigation specialist, Cliona Curley said: “The reality is that the internet presents increasing opportunities for the sexual exploitation and abuse of children. 


“Access to technology can be enormously beneficial to children, but we also must recognise that children are developmentally vulnerable and that they need support and guidance, both to protect them and to empower them to use that access wisely”.


Another huge concern for both parents and teachers is cyberbullying.



69 percent of teachers reported that they did not feel adequately equipped to help their pupils stay safe online and 179 teachers reported 219 cases of cyberbullying in the past year alone.


CyberSafeIreland carries out visits to schools where they speak to children in small groups about how to stay safe online while learning and having fun. This year, they visited 47 schools and gave talks to almost 5,000 children.


CEO of CyberSafeIreland, Alex Cooney, advised parents to take the time to talk to their children about staying safe while online.


 “As a nation, we are failing in our duty to protect our children online. If children are online then they need guidance, support and supervision to manage their experiences safely and responsibly, especially when they are young. 


"Too often we are seeing children taking risks by sharing personal information in videos and photos, getting involved in incidences of cyberbullying and talking to strangers online. 



The charity provides the following tips for keeping your child safe online.


Start the conversation early.

As soon as your child shows interest in your phone or tablet, talk about what's okay and not okay to do online in an age appropriate manner. 


Talk to your kids about what they do and see online on a regular basis.


Research apps and games

Before your child uses an app or a game, download it yourself or watch videos on YouTube about it and see what functionality it has.


Check whether it has a chat facility, how to apply safety /privacy settings and how to report abuse.



Agree on boundaries and rules

Before you allow your child to go online, put appropriate boundaries in place and apply them consistently, e.g. where they can use their devices, who can be on their friend lists, what behaviour is acceptable, and what details never to share.


Make sure your child knows they will lose access to their devices if they don’t follow the rules. Most importantly, always check up on their activity.


For more information, visit cybersafeireland.org.



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