Irish kids aware of safety rules online

30 May 2003

Irish children may use the internet less than their counterparts in the Nordic countries but they show a higher awareness of online safety measures, new research has found.

Children and parents from five European countries – Ireland, Sweden, Demark, Norway and Iceland – took part in the survey. The topline result indicated that just 12pc of Irish children say they use the internet every day, whereas 46pc of Swedish children do so. However 83pc of Irish children say they are aware of the internet safety guideline never to give their home address while online. In Norway, 61pc of respondents were familiar with this edict.

Irish parents were found to be more vigilant than those in the other surveyed countries; 67 per cent check in on their kids when they are using the net. Parental supervision varies according to the age of the children, and tends to be stronger with those aged between 9 and 12 than with older kids.

Almost 40pc of Irish children have an email account, which they use mainly to communicate with family and friends. This is a lower figure than that of respondents in the other Nordic countries. When asked, 14pc of Irish children claimed to have received an email that bothered or frightened them, but the response of most is to delete the offending message.

The survey also found that 35pc of Irish children believe their homework is better if they have researched the internet; however books are still their preferred source of information.

The purpose of the comparative Safety Awareness Fact and Tools (SAFT) survey is to use the findings as a foundation for all project outputs such as the SAFT Education Programme and Safer Internet Guidelines, which will be promoted in all partner countries.

In Ireland, the National Centre for Technology in Education (NCTE) was responsible for all fieldwork and data collection. The organisation’s remit is to promote safe and responsible use of the internet, through collaborating with schools and parents councils.

By Gordon Smith