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Smartphones in Little Hands: 1 in 4 Irish 6-Year-Olds Owns One

In a recent survey conducted for the Irish online safety charity CyberSafeKids, it was found that 1 in 4 children in Ireland aged 6 years old owns a smartphone. The survey, which involved 900 parents with children aged 5 to 17, revealed that 24% of 6-year-olds have their own smartphone. Surprisingly, only 28% of parents reported using parental controls on their children's devices.

The study also highlighted a significant concern – over half of the parents surveyed did not feel confident in teaching their children how to stay safe online. This information was released by CyberSafeKids on Safer Internet Day, an initiative that aims to promote a safer online environment.

Alex Cooney, CEO of CyberSafeKids, expressed concern about the "worrying gap" between children's internet use and their parents' ability to support safe online practices. In response to this, CyberSafeKids released a guideline titled "Better Digital Parenting," offering advice on setting parental controls and emphasizing that very young children should not use the internet alone.

Cooney stressed that responsibility for keeping children safe online extends beyond parents. She called for schools to provide online safety education, governments to implement stronger regulations, and social media companies to take more significant steps to ensure the safety of young users.

While some social media platforms already require users to be at least 13 years old, a study by the UK communications regulator Ofcom in 2022 found that a third of children aged between 8 and 17 with social media profiles had set their age to 18 or over. The complexities of age verification and the digital landscape pose ongoing challenges for ensuring the safety of young internet users.

Questions to Ponder

  1. Early Tech Ownership: What are your thoughts on the finding that 1 in 4 six-year-olds in Ireland owns a smartphone? How does this align with or differ from your expectations about young children and technology?

  2. Parental Controls: Considering that only 28% of parents reported using parental controls on their children's devices, what steps do you think can be taken to increase awareness and adoption of such safety features among parents?

  3. Digital Literacy Gap: The survey indicated that more than half of parents don't feel confident about teaching their children to stay safe online. In your opinion, how can educational institutions and communities bridge this digital literacy gap for parents?

  4. Safer Internet Day Impact: Safer Internet Day was chosen to release these findings. How do you think awareness days like this contribute to promoting a safer online environment? What additional steps could be taken on such days to enhance online safety awareness?

  5. Beyond Parental Responsibility: Alex Cooney emphasized the collective responsibility of schools, governments, and social media companies in ensuring online safety for children. What specific measures do you think these entities should take to contribute to a safer digital space for young users?


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