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25% Primary & 40% Secondary experience cyberbullying

Posted by SchoolDays Newshound, on 07/09/2023. 25% Primary & 40% Secondary experience cyberbullyingTags: Parenting

CyberSafeKids published startling figures in the annual CyberSafeKids’ Annual Trends and Usage Report.

  • Girls more likely to be victimised online than boys

  • Almost two-thirds (62%) of teachers dealt with online safety incidents

  • 31% of 8-12 year olds are allowed online whenever they want

  • CyberSafeKids surveyed over 5,000 8-16 year-olds between Sept. '22 - June '23

  • Over 25% of primary school children (aged 8 to 12) have experienced cyberbullying during the last school year, according to new figures published today in CyberSafeKids’ Annual Trends and Usage Report. The incidence of cyberbullying significantly increases at secondary school (aged 12 to 16) to 40%, with girls more likely than boys to have been victimised online (43% vs 30%). 

    93% of 8-12 year-olds have their own smart device, with YouTube (76%) the most popular app, followed by WhatsApp (39%), Tik Tok (37%) and Snapchat (37%). Online gaming is also popular with young children, with 15% playing over-18 games like Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto, which contain violent and sexually explicit content. Whilst boys were more likely than girls to play over-18 games (28% v 6%), young girls are more likely to post videos of themselves online (26% v 18%). 

    The survey by Ireland's online safety charity of over 5,000 children included secondary school aged children for the first time. Almost three-quarters (73%) of 12-16 year-olds said they can go online whenever they want, with 40% posting videos of themselves on social media platforms. Younger children face more controls at home from parents, but 31% of 8-12 year olds say they are free to go online whenever they want, and 15% of primary school children have no rules in place for going online at home.

    Posting pictures without permission, creation of fake profiles, and being excluded from chat groups were amongst the commonly reported forms of cyberbullying behaviour. The research found that only 52% of primary school children, and 39% of secondary school children told a parent or trusted adult they were being bullied. Between a quarter to a third of children didn’t tell anyone (28% of younger children and 34% of older children).
    In the report, the charity highlights several areas in which younger children (8-12 years old) are vulnerable to undesirable contact from people they don’t know. 42% of young boys and 27% of girls have gamed with a stranger online. Young children are also unaware of how best to protect themselves online with 22% posting videos, and 17% unaware of how to manage privacy settings. 

    Over a quarter (26%) of all the children surveyed had seen or experienced something online in the last year that “bothered” them (defined as content that scared them, upset them or made them wish they hadn’t seen it) such as sexual or violent content. Nearly half of the younger children (46%) didn’t tell a parent or trusted adult about this experience, rising to 67% for secondary school children in this position. 

    CyberSafeKids CEO, Alex Cooney, said: 
    “Online safety for children remains a critical issue that is not being sufficiently addressed in Ireland’s education system or by the social media companies whose platforms are being used. Our data shows children are extremely active on social media, often unsupervised, leaving them highly vulnerable to bullying, grooming, and exposure to violent or sexual content. 
    We've been reporting on these patterns for the past 7 years, but not enough is being done. We urge the Government to invest heavily in more resources and campaigns to support both parents and educators. Whilst organisations like CyberSafeKids barely have the funding to survive, many online service providers report annual profits in the billions.” 

    Ms Carmel Hume, Principal of Presentation Primary School, Terenure said: 
    "This report confirms the findings of our own teachers. Children feel disempowered by social media, especially in large group chats. They are afraid to leave a group, and afraid to speak up if they see others being ridiculed. We were shocked by the number of children who had access to their smartphones in their bedrooms late at night. Many slept with phones under their pillows. Negative commentary online has become normalised and the nuances of face-to-face communication and engagements are being lost. As principal of an all-girls school I worry about the influence of social media on image and body positivity, and I urge parents and guardians to exercise stronger control.”

    CyberSafeKids Advisor, Professor Brian O'Neill of TU Dublin, added: 
    "Children’s online safety is a shared responsibility that requires a more urgent response by all stakeholders. CyberSafeKids plays a crucial role in helping to support schools to deliver quality online safety education to children from an early age. Given the fast-changing nature of the digital environment, parents and teachers cannot be expected to manage it without support."

    The full report is available to read here: Trends and Usage Report Academic Year 2022/23  


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