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05th Sep 2023

Survey reveals 25% of children experience cyberbullying

Ellen Fitzpatrick

A new study has revealed that more than a quarter of primary school children and 40% of secondary school students have been subject to cyberbullying.

The research carried out by online safety charity CyberSafeKids saw that just over half of primary school children and 39% of secondary school children told a parent or trusted adult that they were being bullied in some capacity.

The forms of cyberbullying reported included posting pictures without permission, creating of fake profiles and being excluded from chat groups.

It also found that girls were more likely to be targeted online than boys, with a quarter to a third of children opting to not speak up on it.

CyberSafeKids surveyed over 5,000 eight to 16-year-olds between September 2022 and June 2023 to be included in the survey.

It now shows that 93% of eight to 12-year-olds own their own smart device and on there, YoTube is the most popular app, followed by WhatsApp, TikTok, and Snapchat.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, CyberSafeKids CEO Alex Cooney said that the survey results are very significant in showing patterns of cyberbullying.

She said that “these are common experiences so children were able to tick a range of experiences that amount to cyberbullying, things like being out of a group, being sent mean messages, mean messages being posted about them, fake accounts being set up and a number of children would have ticked a number of those boxes.

“So it’s not necessarily being one thing that’s happening at one time, it certainly is persistent.”

She added that another major issue is that children don’t always report cyberbullying, saying that “we don’t where it stops, it could go on and on and on and really impact children over the longer term.”

The study also revealed that online gaming is popular with young children as 15% of children are playing over 18 games like Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto, with boys more likely to indulge in these games.

Around three-quarters of 12 to 16-year-olds said they can go online any time they wish and 40% are posting videos of themselves to social media platforms.

31% of eight to 12-year-olds said they can go on the internet whenever they like while 15% of primary school children said there are no rules in place for internet use.

42% of young boys and 27% of girls also admitted to gaming online with a stranger.

The survey revealed that many young children are unaware of how to protect themselves online, with over a quarter of all the children surveyed having seen or experienced something online in the last year that “bothered” them. This included sexual or violent content. This figure jumped to 67% for secondary school children.

“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,” added Cooney.