Parents worried about children’s online access but not taking sufficient safety measures — research

More than half of parents have not put any protections in place to protect their children from accessing harmful or inappropriate material online.

Parents worried about children’s online access but not taking sufficient safety measures — research

Research by the iReach Group presented yesterday showed that while 80% of parents are concerned about what their children may access online, just 40% have active house rules to counteract those threats.

The same research indicates 46% of Irish children regularly take and post “selfies” online, even though 60% of parents disliked the idea.

There is also a growing technology gap between parents and their children, with the latter utilising newer formats including Viber and Instagram.

The research was delivered at an event hosted by the Internet Service Providers’ Association of Ireland (ISPAI) which included the launch of the annual report by internet safety watchdog Hotline.ie.

The annual report highlighted how an alert passed to Ireland’s internet watchdog led to the taking down of illegal child pornography in another country.

It was one of the 2,568 alerts received by Hotline.ie last year, with 135 relating to child porn and one linked to child grooming.

The number of alerts — slightly more than the usual annual average since 2006 — led to a number of investigations, although just 185 of the reports were deemed to be illegal.

However, seven cases of child sex abuse material were traced back to Ireland — the highest-ever annual figure.

Paul Durrant, chief executive of ISPAI and manager of Hotline.ie, said they were mostly cloud-based and the “host” was unaware of the nature of the material. Notifications of the seven Irish-based cases came from overseas’ counterpart organisations of Hotline.ie.

Most child sex abuse material was reported to originate in the US, the Netherlands and Russia, with Hotline.ie contacting authorities in those countries.

Last year, 93% of all reported child sexual abuse material was removed from the internet within a week.

Mr Durrant also warned that some images such as selfies can end up in the hands of paedophiles.

One way this can happen is when a recipient of an image on Snapchat takes a screengrab.

Speaking at the event yesterday, Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said: “It is vital that reporting structures are in place.”

Urging anyone who comes across inappropriate content to report it immediately, she said: “It is heartbreaking to note that children in all categories are at risk in this vile online trade.

“On the positive side, it would seem from the report that Irish people are less likely to stumble across illegal material than they were in the past. On the negative side, this may mean that those who provide and those who seek out such material are getting better at concealing it.”

She said seven reports were traced here and “identifying such illegality is the first step to rooting it out”.

Hotline stats

* 2,568 alerts

* 185 of the alerts deemed illegal

* One relating to child grooming

* 47 relating to financial scams

* 135 relating to child pornography

* Two relating to racism and xenophobia

*Seven alerts were traced to Ireland

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