One in five children upset by online content in past year
Study on internet use among 9-16 year olds finds smartphones most used for access
Smartphones were the devices most used by children to go online (35%)
One in five children in Ireland has been bothered by something they have seen on the internet in the past year and nearly one in eight 13 and 14 year olds has been bullied on a social networking site, a new study suggests.
Also, some 20 per cent of nine-16 year olds reported something had made them feel “uncomfortable, upset or that they should not have seen it” online – almost double the percentage in a 2011 study.
The Net Children Go Mobile study on children’s use of the internet in Ireland builds on that 2011 research in the EU Kids Online Project. Some 500 children, aged from nine to 16, were interviewed face to face in their homes in November and December 2013 and the initial findings were published to coincide with Safer Internet Day today.
The report noted more girls (23 per cent) reported being bothered than boys (16 per cent).
Younger children, aged nine-10, were the least likely to have been bothered by something online (9 per cent). But a quarter of 13-14 year olds and 37 per cent of 15-16 year olds said they had experienced something that bothered them or wished they hadn’t seen.
Some 22 per cent of children had experienced some form of bullying, on or offline, the authors said.
More than half of children (54 per cent) in Ireland have at least one profile on a social networking site. A total of 5 per cent of young people overall, but 13 per cent of 13-14 year olds said they had been bullied on such a site.
This compared with 6 per cent of children overall who reported they were bullied face to face in the past 12 months.
Eleven per cent of children had received sexual messages of some kind.
Most internet use takes place in the home, with 63 per cent of children using the internet several times a day or at least once a day at home.
Just under half or 46 per cent of children access the internet from their own bedroom on a daily basis, with 22 per cent saying they did so several times per day.
Smartphones (35 per cent), laptops (29 per cent) and tablets (27 per cent) were the devices most used by children to go online, but the authors also noted that use of a device and ownership did “not necessarily coincide”.
Gender differences in ownership of devices were “particularly noteworthy”.
“Home games consoles are the preserve of boys, with twice as many nine-12-year-old boys (54 per cent) than girls (26 per cent) owning one.”
A wider gap exists for teenagers, with 79 per cent of 13-16 year-old boys compared to just 17 per cent of girls owning such a device.
The two-year research project is funded by the European Commission’s safer internet programme and seven countries – Denmark, Italy, Romania, United Kingdom, Ireland, Portugal and Belgium – take part.
Dr Brian O’Neill, leader of the project in Ireland, said mobile devices had helped young people to intensify their internet use but their concerns about content and risks of bullying were rising.
“More awareness of the risks and safety implications of mobile internet use is needed,” he said.