"Proper action" is needed to control increasing rates of cyberbullying, according to Newstalk Tech Correspondent Jess Kelly.
This morning, a new study by CyberSafeKids revealed that over 25% of primary school-aged children also experienced harassment online, with girls more likely to be victimised than boys.
Four-in-10 secondary school students also experienced cyberbullying, with almost two-thirds of teachers saying they had dealt with online safety incidents.
The report was carried out between September last year and June this year and included over 5,000 kids aged between eight and 16.
“1 in 4 primary school children have experienced cyberbullying”.
A new study from @CyberSafeKidsIE also found that 40% of children in secondary school faced cyberbullying during the last school year.
Almost two-thirds of teachers said they had dealt with online safety… pic.twitter.com/6c6zp9RLDg
— NewstalkFM (@NewstalkFM) September 5, 2023
Speaking to The Pat Kenny Show, Jess said the findings were "really stark".
"93% of eight to 12-year-olds have a smart device of their own – almost 40% of that cohort use things like TikTok and Snapchat," she said.
"It's worth noting that Snapchat and TikTok's age of requirements is 13."
'Blue in the face'
Jess said the results made for "uncomfortable reading", as online bullying has existed for as long as social media has been in use.
"I left school in 2007, and in 2007, there was cyberbullying," she said.
"What has changed in 16 years? Diddly squat, except we've got extra platforms for this to happen on.
"I am blue in the face talking to you and to everybody else on the station about the need for proper action when it comes to cyberbullying."
Jess said cyberbullying has "fallen between a few stools".
"Nobody wants to own it and take leadership in this regard," she said.
"We need to have some formal aspects of our education system dedicated towards digital education.
"No kid comes out of the womb holding a phone or a tablet and they shouldn't get their paws on one until a parent is confident in their ability to sit down with the child, talk through the different elements and know what to do as a parent if something goes wrong.
"This is going on too long now."
Teachers and parents
Just under half of the teachers who participated in the study said they did not feel they had sufficient skills to effectively deliver online safety training.
"That's a worry," said Jess. "Parents will say they're not equipped or they can't be helicopter parents all the time and I understand that.
"There are great resources out there like cybersafekids.ie and ispcc.ie."
Jess said children are now learning "life lessons" online that would have been previously taught in the schoolyard.
"The most worrying thing – and I say this as somebody who's 34 and gets online abuse – it is so difficult to deal with because it's the first thing you see in the morning and the last thing you see at night," she said.
"We need to equip our kids better.
"Until somebody takes ownership and leadership in this field and on this issue, we are going to continue to see these stats going up."