CyberSafeIreland has published its annual report, calling for the Irish Government to prioritise funding of internet safety education.
Children’s internet safety charity CyberSafeIreland has released its first annual report. Detailing the results of a survey into children’s internet usage, the report also delved into teachers’ ability to educate students on online safety.
The report found that, while 84pc of primary teachers do cover internet safety, 64pc do not feel sufficiently resourced to deliver educational messages on the topic.
This has potentially alarming connotations in light of the sheer amount of time children are spending online, and the ways in which they’re doing it.
‘Online safety education needs to be addressed on an ongoing basis and not just during Safer Internet Day or once-off events’
– ALEX COONEY
Out of 233 children aged between eight and 13, 19pc spend more than four hours online per day. 28pc were in contact with a stranger, occasionally, through online gaming or social media requests. 5pc were in contact with strangers on a daily basis.
“It is concerning how many children are making contact with strangers on the internet, and the volume of time that some young children are spending online each day is not healthy,” said Alex Cooney, CEO and co-founder of CyberSafeIreland.
Of course, the burden of education does not fall solely on the shoulders of teachers. Parents must take some responsibility over what their children do online.
“As parents and educators, we need to be doing a lot more to prepare young children for a connected future, enabling them to engage in safe and responsible online behaviour,” said Cooney.
“We also need the Government to prioritise and invest more in supporting appropriate internet safety education to ensure children in Ireland are better equipped to manage the dangers, but also make the most of the opportunities online.”
CyberSafeIreland is making inroads in that regard, providing guidance to primary schools, children and parents – with a particular focus on DEIS schools – on the safe and responsible use of all communications technologies.
For the charity, getting through to parents is key, as children do most of their browsing at home.
“Reaching parents is an incredibly important part of what we do, because most of the children are accessing the internet outside school hours,” said Cliona Curley, programme director and co-founder at CyberSafeIreland.
“We would urge [parents] to start the conversation early with their children about what they’re doing online, both to understand what they love about it and to set some boundaries around usage.”
CyberSafeIreland offered some tips for parents, guiding them in ensuring that their children enjoy the internet safely: