Third of 8- to 12-year-olds have seen ‘upsetting’ material online – survey

CyberSafeIreland finds 68% surveyed active on social media, increase of 10% on last year

Nearly a third of primary school children have seen material online that has upset them, according to a survey from CyberSafeIreland.

Most children reported their experience to a parent or trusted adult but 19 per cent said they had kept it to themselves.

The survey, conducted by the children’s online safety charity, spoke to eight to 12-year-olds ahead of Safer Internet Day on Tuesday.

Almost a quarter of those surveyed had seen something online that they wouldn’t want their parents to know about.


Some 93 per cent said they owned their own smart device and 68 per cent were active on social media, a 10 per cent increase on last year’s figure.

The findings were based on a survey of 2,300 primary school children aged between 8 and 12 in 20 schools between September and December.

Alex Cooney, chief executive of CyberSafeIreland said the fact that a third of children have been upset by material encountered online should be "a wake-up call to whoever emerges in Government after the general election that we must get to grips with children's internet use and access".

“There have been plenty of encouraging promises made in parties’ election manifestos, but the proof of their commitment will be seeing these translated into a Programme for Government with clear action points and timelines to both protect and empower our children in the online world.”

CyberSafeIreland is marking Safer Internet Day 2020 by launching two new videos made by sixth -class students from St Kevin's National School, Sallynoggin, designed to encourage discussions in the classroom around healthy use of technology.

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times