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Cyber Safety

Nearly one in three parents concerned about risk of child being groomed online

Half of parents don’t feel confident about how to teach their children how to stay safe on the internet, a survey suggests.

A SURVEY OF parents suggests that nearly one in three are worried that their child may be groomed online, with cyber-bullying and accessing pornographic content also featuring high among parents’ concerns.

On Safer Internet Day, Irish charity CyberSafeKids has released the findings of a survey of 900 parents of children aged five to 17 conducted by polling firm Amárach.

29% of parents are extremely concerned about the risk of their children being groomed online, the survey found.

Other key concerns are the risks of cyber-bullying (26%) and accessing material related to pornography (25%) and self-harming (25%).

16% of parents are worried about children’s addiction to social media.

Overall, more than 80% of parents believe it is their responsibility to keep their children safe online.

However, 52% do not feel confident about how to teach their children how to stay safe on the internet. Only 28% use parental controls on children’s devices and many said their children’s internet access was only sometimes or never supervised.

The survey also found that 24% of 6-year olds have their own smartphone, while 45% of children aged 10 can use their smartphone in their bedrooms.

Alex Cooney, CEO of CyberSafeKids, said the research “identifies a worrying gap between children’s access and their parents’ ability to support them to be safe online”.

“Parents need to be aware that the safety of any child with unrestricted and unsupervised access to smart devices is at risk,” Cooney said.

She said it was “alarming” to find that “children as young as 5 are being allowed to use smartphones alone in their bedroom”.

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