As research reveals almost three-quarters of teenagers here have been approached online by a stranger, a Government agency is planning to make internet safety part of the primary curriculum.
A programme is already incorporated into the second level social, personal and health education (SPHE) curriculum for students up to Junior Certificate. The National Council for Technology in Education (NCTE), which oversees use of computers and other technologies in schools, is now developing a similar module for primary pupils.
“With our existing initiatives for schools like Webwise, we’ve tried to bring people’s attention to these issues,” said NCTE director Jerome Morrissey.
The importance for children not to give out their personal information is already stressed to pupils in primary and second level schools, where NCTE software restricts access to many sites.
A survey of more than 150 Irish teenagers found just over half of those under 14 and 85% of older children use social networking sites. The survey carried out for Microsoft Ireland also found 77% of those aged 14 to 18 and almost half of under-14s have been contacted online by someone they didn’t know.
Microsoft Ireland launched a campaign encouraging children to ‘think before you post’, and to avoid putting their name, photos, address, telephone or email details on the internet. The company is teaming up with NCTE, gardaí and police on both sides of the border to deliver the message to 70 primary schools this week. The programme was launched at Coláiste Mhuire, Ballincollig, Co Cork.