Ireland adopts Europe's lowest age limit for digital consent

Children will need parental approval to access services online

Ireland adopts Europe's lowest age limit for digital consent

File photo. Picture by: Peter Byrne/PA Archive/PA Images

The Ombudsman for Children has welcomed a decision by Cabinet to set the digital age of consent at 13.

This means that children under 13 will need parental or guardian approval to sign up to online services.

These services include goods and services offered online, such as social media.

This sets Ireland at the lower end of the scale in relation to other European Union countries.

Member States are given the option of adopting an age of consent no lower than 13 years.

An age limit of 16 years is set out in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Otherwise States can enact national legislation to specify a lower age limit.

Children's Ombudsman, Dr Niall Muldoon, says: "Setting the digital age of consent at 13 years of age takes a more realistic view of children and young people’s internet use, and of the integral role that the online environment plays in their lives.

"This is the view we expressed in submissions on the Digital Age of Consent, and also on the General Scheme of the Data Protection Bill 2017.

"Choosing 13 as the digital age of consent is in keeping with international children’s rights standards as it allows for the balancing of the different rights that children have.

"It also acknowledges the opportunities, as well the risks that the online environment presents to children and young people."