Parents worried about inappropriate websites


THE RISK that children will see inappropriate content online is the most common concern of parents when it comes to their children’s internet use, a survey has found.

The survey, conducted by the National Parents Council Primary and the National Centre for Technology in Education, found that 83 per cent of parents were concerned about inappropriate content. Some 65 per cent of parents were concerned about their children giving personal details to strangers, while 60 per cent were worried that their children would be exposed to violent video game content.

Some 46 per cent of parents with younger children said they believed the risks posed by the internet outweighed the benefits.

The findings of the survey of almost 800 parents were released to mark Safer Internet Day yesterday. The survey showed that more than half of parents of teenagers trusted their children to use the internet safely but just 28 per cent of parents of under nine-year-olds trusted their children with the internet.

International research has found that Irish parents set more rules than their European counterparts in relation to children’s internet activities and this is borne out in the latest survey. Some 97 per cent of parents said they had rules or restrictions in place to monitor children’s internet use.

Two new internet safety programmes for children have been launched to mark Safer Internet Day. Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald launched the Webwise primary school programme which will help teachers who want to introduce internet safety into the social, personal and health education curriculum. It deals with issues such as sharing personal information online, cyber bullying, dealing with spam and how to determine if online content can be trusted.

Also yesterday the Garda Síochána announced a new initiative called Respectful Online Communication which will be included in its primary school programme for fifth-class pupils. Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan said gardaí would be visiting hundreds of schools in the coming weeks to discuss issues such as cyber bullying.

Meanwhile, all second-level schools are to get high-speed (100Mbps) broadband, the Government has announced.

The national rollout will be completed over three stages, with 200 schools being connected by September, a further 200 being connected next year, and the remaining 250 schools being connected in 2014.