The level of bullying felt by nine to 16-year-olds is slightly higher than the EU average. But among those who use the internet more regularly, the extent of bullying is felt far higher than by others.
Although the 4% of all Irish children bullied online is lower than EU-wide, it rises to 14% among children whose online presence is more extensive.
As well as the extent of bullying, the EU Kids Online study asked about the effects and how children deal with it. Almost two- thirds of girls who have been cyberbullied said they were very or fairly upset, compared to 38% of boys, but more than 80% of 11 and 12-year-olds were more than a bit upset by it.
One-in-three boys and girls said they felt the effects for at least a few weeks, with more than half of those affected for a couple of months or more.
Again, the effects were felt for longer by young children, with 40% of 11 and 12-year-old cyber- bullying victims feeling the effects for months.
The 14% of all cyber-bullying victims who were more deeply affected for a couple of months is very high compared to an equivalent figure of 2% across Europe.
“This is the first time that the impact of cyberbullying on Irish youngsters has been measured and reveals the significant impact it can have on victims,” said Brian O’Neill from the Dublin Institute of Technology, one of the report’s authors.
It also emerged from the research of 1,000 Irish children that fewer than a one third who were bullied on the internet had let their parents know.
However, while 71% of bullying victims talk to someone about it, mostly a friend or a parent, only 6% speak to a teacher.
The report recommends additional school policies and classroom activities to help teachers develop appropriate strategies, and it says young people must be encouraged to speak more openly about cyberbullying.
The researchers also advise finding ways to improve communication between parents and children, given the high gaps in awareness.
It said: “Awareness-raising efforts should focus on encouraging dialogue between parents or carers and children about cyberbullying and how to deal with it.”
With 28% of victims trying to fix the problem themselves and one in four ignoring the issue and hoping it would go away, the Up To Us bystander campaign was launched to mark Safer Internet Day.
“It is encouraging people who witness online bullying to positively get involved to show their support for people who have to put up with nastiness and sustained bullying online,” said Simon Grehan, project co-ordinator with Webwise.
As part of the ongoing ‘Watch Your Space’ social media campaign, it is separate from the national anti-bullying website that will form part of the Government action plan on bullying.
The level of cyberbullying appears to increase as children get older, according to the report’s findings.
However, face-to-face bullying still accounts for about two thirds of cases reported here, and a higher proportion of bullying of younger children.