Selfie phenomenon raises Irish parents’ concerns of online sexual abuse

30 May 2014

Image via dolphfyn/Shutterstock

Survey results revealed at an event to discuss the sexual abuse of children online showed that 46pc of Irish children regularly take and post selfies online, even though 60pc of parents aren’t fond of this activity.

Overall, 80pc of Irish parents surveyed said they were concerned about their child’s online activity. However, the issue with what kids are doing online and what their parents worry about could be that just 40pc of parents surveyed said they have house rules for their child’s online activity.

“This study shows a generational gap emerging in the use of social media platforms with children favouring newer platforms such as Viber and Instagram, which have become significantly more popular amongst children (40pc) compared to their parents (26pc),” said Oisin Byrne, managing director of iReach Market Research, who conducted the survey on behalf of the Internet Service Providers Association of Ireland (ISPAI).

Over 100 reports of child pornography in 2013

The ‘Zero Tolerance to Child Sexual Abuse Online’ meeting was organised by ISPAI’s to mark the publication of the ISPAI Annual Report analysing illegal content online and explore international efforts to combat it.

The ISPAI service allows smembers of the public who uncover illegal content on the internet to report it anonymously – particularly material related to the sexual abuse or exploitation of children. Last year, it received 2,568 reports, 135 of which related to child pornography. is overseen by the Office for Internet Safety within the department of Justice and Equality and works in co-operation with An Garda Síochána. is also a founding member of the International Association of Internet Hotlines, which now includes 49 such hotlines in 43 countries. This international co-operation ensures a fast response to material discovered which comes from outside Ireland’s jurisdiction.

The Minister for Justice and Equality, and former Children’s Minister, Frances Fitzgerald, TD, emphasised the global nature of these threats as only seven of last year’s reports were traced back to Ireland. She also highlighted the importance of having reporting mechanisms such as in place so that action can be taken.

Selfie image by dolphfyn via Shutterstock

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.