Almost 85% of pre-teens use social media apps despite age restrictions

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A third of Irish children aged 8 to 12 post videos of themselves online, according to a primary school study.

he research was conducted with 4,000 children between these ages.

It also revealed that 84 pc used at least one social network or messaging service like Snapchat or TikTok, despite the minimum age restrictions on all popular apps of at least 13 years old.

And 93% of pre-teens now have some sort of phone, tablet, or other smart device, and nearly a third report being bullied online.

CyberSafeKids figures have been released as the government’s online security commissioner now appears unlikely to be appointed until 2023.

Meanwhile, TikTok and YouTube – the two most popular social platforms among children under 13 – have had to introduce measures to stop predators and abusers on their video platforms.

According to figures from CyberSafeKids, 61% of children say they have been contacted by a stranger in an online game.

And one in three pre-teens are playing online with people they don’t know, an increase of 16pc annually.

In total, online games are played by 80% of children aged 8 to 12, according to the study.

The most popular apps are YouTube (74pc), TikTok (47pc), WhatsApp (39pc) and Snapchat (37pc).

TikTok is by far the most popular video sharing platform among young children, with 80% of those uploading videos using the Chinese platform.

Last month, TikTok and Google introduced new safety controls to prevent children from sharing videos of themselves or receiving direct message requests from strangers regarding their videos.

YouTube has previously acknowledged that the “predatory behavior” of pedophiles targeting children with coded comments is an issue for the Google-owned platform.

CyberSafeKids research shows that almost two-thirds of teachers now face online security incidents such as cyberbullying in classrooms, and 79% of teachers think online safety is a ‘significant’ issue in their school.

“There is no one who really monitors this or enforces minimum age checks,” said Nicola Fay, the principal of St Brigid’s National School in Castleknock, which has 900 students.

“An eight-year-old who posts videos of themselves online may not be fully aware of what can go wrong, especially if they are identifiable by their school uniform or badge patch. club in the background. “

Ms Fay also called the delay in setting up an online security commissioner “worrying”.

“This should really be high on the government’s agenda,” she told the Independent Irish.

The survey also asked children if they had seen anything online that they wouldn’t want their parents to know, with 22% saying yes.

A quarter of pre-teen children say they have come across online content that “upsets” or “scares” them.

Among children exposed to disturbing content, nearly a third say they keep it to themselves. This is double from last year.

While most children say they tell parents about their online activities, nearly a third of those surveyed said they could ‘go online whenever I wanted’ and 13 pc said they could. there were “no rules”.

“In a year of Covid-19 lockdown, we are seeing a large number of pre-teens owning devices and being active online,” said Alex Cooney, CEO of CyberSafeKids.

“Unfortunately, a significant number of children have negative experiences, with 29% of children reporting at least one experience of bullying.”

Ms Cooney called on the government to give new impetus to the proposed Online Safety Commissioner.

The commissioner should have “greater powers over content that has caused them harm and more pressure on social media and gaming platforms to remove that content quickly and efficiently,” she said.

Other survey results show that 28% of kids under 13 with social media or instant messaging accounts have friends or followers they don’t know offline. And 17% of young children play games over the age of 18.


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