Report finds "digital deceit" pattern in what teenagers tell parents about online activity

Some 52% of 6 to 8-year-old children now have internet access

Newstalk, facebook, digital, social network, Facebook, Snapchat, bullying, National Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre, Dr James O'Higgins

Picture by: Dominic Lipinski / PA Wire/Press Association Images

Less than 20% of parents supervise their children's use of social media.

The findings are contained in research released today by the National Anti-Bullying Centre at Dublin City University (DCU).

The research shows that 52% of 6 to 8-year-old children now have internet access - but only 18% of parents supervise their children's use of social media.

It found that over half of parents do not know how to block inappropriate web content.

The survey also found that while most parents use Facebook, they are unfamiliar with networks used by children - such as SnapChat.

While over half of parents expressed a frustrating lack of knowledge about privacy techniques, filtering and password controls.

Some 40% lacked basic security measures, and 52% had no knowledge about more advanced privacy techniques such as search engine filters - which the report says adds to the feeling of distance parents from their digital native children.

It also found a parental over-reliance on their children's accounts of what they do online.

It says that while many children may show honesty in this area, there is also a well-established "digital deceit" pattern in pre-teen and teen dealings with their parents that can leave them vulnerable online, especially to cyber-bullying.

"Our research underscores the growing challenges and pressing need to create protections around children from cyber-bullying", explains Dr James O'Higgins, director of the Anti-Bullying Centre at DCU.

"While many of the parents surveyed said they had talked to their children about the areas of concern - exposure to inappropriate or toxic content, cyber-bullying, safety and security - the vast majority still had very real concerns about their children’s levels of vulnerability online".

"For many, taking part in the survey acted as a wake-up call, flagging up significant areas where vigilance could be improved", he added.

He told Newstalk Breakfast we have to revise our understanding of the internet and social media.

How familiar are you with social media networks?