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One in five Irish teens have accessed content that disturbed them — survey

The new study also reveals that many Irish teenagers are keeping their parents in the dark regarding their online activity.

Image: boy with computer via Shutterstock

Update 11.04am

A FIFTH OF of Irish teenagers have accessed inappropriate content online that disturbed them, according to a new study by online security giant McAfee.

The ‘Digital Disconnect’ survey also reveals an imbalance between the activity children are engaged in online, and what their parents believe they are doing.

The study was launched today as McAfee announced details of a new online safety for kids programme which it says will reach 10,000 kids in Ireland next year.

Transition Year children will be able to become youth ambassadors to teach online safety to children in local primary and secondary schools. A pilot programme in Cork has already been taught at more than 30 schools and community centres, McAfee says.

Speaking at the launch today, Taoiseach Enda Kenny pointed out that “every second is in the cloud and is retrievable”.

Children’s Minister Frances Fitzgerald said that it is important that young people are aware “just how accessible” everything they put online is.

One in four parents believe their teen tells them everything they do on the internet — but the research discovered a majority of teens are taking a steps to hide their behaviour. Over half (53 per cent) admitted to wiping their browser history, while 49 per cent viewed content away from home to keep their behaviour hidden.

The survey also found that:

  • More than one in 10 (11 per cent) of Irish teenagers said they had met up with someone they met online
  • Despite 57 per cent of parents trusting their child not to access inappropriate content online, 23 per cent of teens admitted intentionally searching for pornography, 26 per cent have looked up sexual topics online and 56 per cent have viewed a video they know their parents wouldn’t approve of.
  • A third of teens (33 per cent) have looked up answers to tests/assignments online.
  • Just over a third (34 per cent) have looked up simulated violence online.
  • One in 10 teens admit having posted revealing pictures of themselves online.
  • 12 per cent admit posting a comment containing foul language online, with the same amount regretting it later.
  • 16 per cent admitted to getting into trouble at home or at school as a result of being on a social network
  • Over half (55 per cent) have visited websites they know their parents wouldn’t approve of

The study also revealed that most Irish parents are aware of the dangers associated with data and identity theft, and more than 70 per cent are concerned about their teens posting their home address online, as well as the sharing of other details like mobile phone numbers.

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McAfee Ireland’s Paul Walsh described the statistic that 11 per cent of children surveyed have met up with people they interacted with online as “very disturbing”.

84 per cent of adults said they had had a conversation with their teenage child about online safety, while over a third have placed parental controls on household internet devices.

200 teenagers and 200 parents of teenagers were interviewed as part of the survey throughout October.

Read: Irish girl (17) ‘forced into stripping on Skype’ by US computer hacker

Read: Facebook considers allowing access to children under 13

About the author:

Daragh Brophy

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