Frances Fitzgerald TD. Minister for Children & Youth Affairs has today welcomed the first Irish report of the ‘Net Children Go Mobile’ project.
The report finds that 40% of children aged 9-16 and over 60% of teenagers in Ireland own a smartphone. 35% use it daily to go online, while 27% own a tablet and use it on a daily basis to access the internet.
The report found that 21% of children (aged 9-16) are likely to encounter negative user generated content online i.e. content relating to hate, pro-anorexia, self-harm, drug taking or suicide. 21% of children reported seeing sexual images while 22% had received contact with people they have never met face to face.
Minister Fitzgerald stated: “This report confirms the very real concerns of many Irish parents regarding the potential access for young and curious minds to a whole range of inappropriate material online as well as the risks arising from contact online with strangers.”
The Minister noted that her Government colleague Minister Pat Rabbitte TD has established a new Taskforce on Internet Content Governance, chaired by Dr. Brian O’Neill of DIT, who also headed up the Irish ‘Net Children Go Mobile’ project which reported today.
Minister Fitzgerald stated: “I have written to Minister Rabbitte suggesting that relevant safeguarding issues relating to children’s use of smartphones be considered by the Taskforce and this has been agreed. I look forward to taskforce’s consideration of this matter.”
Minister Fitzgerald also indicated that she written to Irish mobile phones providers on the need to continue to afford the highest priority to developing and rolling-out enhanced safeguards and to raising the profile of such safeguards, including providing information for concerned parents.
The Minister stated: “I have received a positive response indicating that the Irish Cellular Industry Association wish to engage with me on a new code on conduct.”