Parents warned of cyber danger with smartphones

Many parents buying their children a smartphone this Christmas have “no idea” of the potential dangers of the online dangers their child may face.

The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) pointed out that with one in three children under the age of 16 using a smartphone on a daily basis to access the internet, parents needed to be aware of the dangers of unsupervised internet access for children.

General secretary of the INTO Sheila Nunan said parents had to take responsibility for their children’s safety and could not rely on primary schools exclusively to solve problems such as “stranger danger” and cyberbullying.

“Many parents don’t understand the technology and therefore can’t keep their children safe. Parents need to know how children use phones and computers. Without this it is very difficult to protect children from harm,” she said.

A 2011 ConsumerReports.org study showed that, of the 20m minors who used Facebook, more than one third were younger than 13 and not supposed to be able to use the site. In the same year more than 1m children were harassed, threatened, or subjected to other forms of cyberbullying on the site.

Ms Nunan said any parent buying a phone should be able to deal with threats and should sign up for a dual access service which would allow monitoring and the restricting of calls and internet access. “Filtering software is available for smartphones. Parents need to make sure it’s installed and not deleted,” she said.

She advised parents to be sure of their children’s privacy settings and that they only connected to other children they know.

“Parents are the primary educators and the first line of defence in the prevention of bullying. Schools can educate children through the Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) programme. In schools children can learn how to safeguard themselves and others when online but parents need to keep their children safe.”

The INTO warned that schools could not deal with every incident and said parents had to know about the mobile phone provider’s customer care or abuse reporting facility. In some cases, the only people able to deal with cyberbullying and child safety issues are the gardaí, the union said.


More in this Section

Ophelia leaves 74,000 Co Cork homes without power

Irish team steal Leo Varadkar’s thunder with playoff date

Where, when and how to get to Ireland's World Cup play-off against Denmark

Fr Peter McVerry: ‘Evictions are a return to famine times’


Breaking Stories

No Lotto winner - jackpot heads for €7m

Oireachtas committee votes not to recommend full retention of 8th Amendment

Gardaí enlist Civil Defence to use drone in search for armed raider in Clare

Ireland 'would have illegal abortion epidemic without access to UK,' 8th Amendment Committee hears

Lifestyle

Remembering the dead: Poignant reason behind Cork’s Zombie Walk

Eight events around Ireland to check out for some frightful fun this Halloween

Massacre at mass on Scariff Island

Ask Audrey: 'It’s like I’m in a horror movie called Revenge of the Norries'

More From The Irish Examiner