Northern Ireland news

Make online safety compulsory urge parents

The survey highlighted the key concerns of children, teachers and parents

ONLINE safety should be a compulsory part of the school curriculum, parents have urged.

A survey undertaken by Barnardos found that such learning should begin in the early years of primary school.

The poll was part of the Barnardos Online Safety Programme to help inform its work with children, parents and teachers.

The top two concerns cited by young people were fear that an embarrassing picture would be shared on social media (40 per cent); and receipt of mean messages or being excluded from groups by friends (37 per cent).

Teachers cited their top concerns as excessive screen time resulting in tiredness that impacted children's schooling, playing inappropriate games and cyber-bullying.

Parents were most worried about cyber-bullying, accessing inappropriate materials and their children speaking to strangers.

"The concerns highlighted across the survey varied from each group, but the one defining factor was that everyone agreed that more online safety workshops are required by children and young people today," said Cliodhna Purdue.

"In fact, young people also said they would like their parents to understand their online world more so their parents could better support them online."

The Barnardos Online Safety Programme addresses issues through engaging, interactive workshops for both primary and secondary pupils. It can be delivered face to face or online.

Ryan Meade, public policy manager for Google Ireland, said the Barnardos research showed a growing awareness across parents, teachers and students of the need to focus on online safety in both the classroom and at home.

"We recognise our responsibility as a company to ensure that the internet is accessible and used in a positive way and our partnership with Barnardos will bring online safety training to over 75,000 children across Ireland," he said.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Northern Ireland news