The Irish Times – Sorcha Pollak & Joe Humphreys

The vast majority of Irish children believe they know more about the internet than their parents, yet 43 per cent still don’t know how to use the “report abuse” safety button on social networking sites.

That’s one of the main findings of a new report on internet usage among nine to 16-year-olds published ahead of Safer Internet Day tomorrow.

Nearly two-thirds of the 500 children surveyed for the report by Dublin Institute of Technology researchers Dr Brian O’Neill and Thuy Dinh claimed greater digital literacy than their parents, and girls claimed to have more skills than boys.

Confidence

Yet their experience online didn’t always match this level of confidence, with 20 per cent of respondents saying they had encountered things online they wish they hadn’t seen.

Dr O’Neill expressed particular concern at the high numbers of young people who were unable to report abuse when they came across disturbing or negative content.

“There has been a lot of pressure on companies like Facebook and YouTube, that the cornerstone of their safety approach is the ability to flag abuse. If those kinds of buttons are not understood by children using them, there’s definitely a clear message there for industry and for teaching safety skills,” he said.

The Net Children Go Mobile report is being published in conjunction with new materials for primary schools designed by Webwise, an internet safety initiative funded by the Department of Education and the European Union.

Instagram was found to be the most popular media-sharing platform: some 42 per cent of nine to 16-year-olds said it was the service used most often to share photos.

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