Almost 25% of six-year-olds have their own smartphone, according to a new study.
The study by Amárach, on behalf of online safety charity CyberSafeKids, has been released to mark Safer Internet Day.
The study, which surveyed 900 parents who have children aged 5-17, found that 45% of children aged ten can use their smartphone in their bedrooms and shows that more than half of parents do not feel well-equipped to teach children how to stay safe online.
A fifth of parents surveyed said they feel that the benefits of the internet and social media outweigh the risks for children.
Over a parents expressed extreme concern about the risk of online grooming, cyberbullying, and the risk of accessing pornography.
Accessing disturbing content relating to self-harming, and addiction to social media were also cited by parents as concerns.
A total of 21% of parents surveyed said their child has been purposely excluded from a group chat or online event, while 18% said their child had been called offensive names.
CyberSafeKids is launching a new online safety parental campaign called ‘Same Rules Apply’ which highlights the need to approach parenting online in the same way as parenting offline, emphasising that the same rules should be applied in both worlds.
“It’s alarming to find that children as young as five are being allowed to use smartphones alone in their bedroom,” said CyberSafeKids Chief Executive Alex Cooney.
“Our ‘Same Rules Apply’ campaign seeks to support parents in approaching children’s online lives with the same care, attention and supervision that we apply to their offline lives,” Ms Cooney said.
Safer Internet Day
Today is the 21st Safer Internet Day which is marked in more than 180 countries worldwide.
The theme for Safer Internet Day 2024 is ‘Tech in our World’ and a series of events will be held involving 200,000 children and young people from schools and organisations across Ireland.
They will explore the role of digital technology in young people’s lives, their views on new and emerging technology, and the changes they would like to see enacted online.
An event at Microsoft’s Dream Space in Dublin will be attended by Niamh Hodnett, Ireland’s Online Safety Commissioner.
“Safer Internet Day is a great chance for me to hear the views of young people on the role technology plays in their lives,” Ms Hodnett said.
“It is also an opportunity to highlight the work of Coimisiún na Meán including preparing our first Online Safety Code, as part of our overall online safety framework,” she added.
Safer Internet Day in Ireland is coordinated by the Irish Safer Internet Centre, a partnership between Webwise, ISPCC, National Parents Council and Hotline.ie.
Minister for Education Norma Foley paid tribute to those who promote the safer use of the internet by children.
“We acknowledge the great work of our schools,” Ms Foley said.
“We salute too the work of Webwise and the Oide Support Service for Teachers, who provide additional resources and training to schools and webinars for parents to support them in keeping their children safe on the internet.”
“We’re also very keen that parents would continue to engage with the guidelines that have been presented around the use of smartphones for young people in primary schools,” she added.