MEP Pat the Cope Gallagher has said the European Union must intensify efforts to help combat cyber-bullying and to encourage safe internet use among children in Europe.
The Donegal politician said the results of a recent study into internet use by children is “deeply concerning.”
The European Commission sponsored study called “Net Children Go Mobile” was completed recently following two years of research in five EU countries: Ireland, the UK, Denmark, Italy and Romania.
The study specifically examined the use of the internet on mobile internet devices such as smartphones and tablets by children ranging from ages 9 to 16.
The principle findings of the “Net Children Go Mobile” Report are as follows:
· 31% of 11 to 16 year-olds have had exposure to negative user generated content (such as posts, comments, pictures or videos on social network sites).
· 30% of 11 to 16 year-olds have communicated online with someone they have not met face to face before.
· 29% of 11 to 16 year-olds have viewed sexual images off and online.
· 27% of children aged 9-16 report being bullied on- or offline. The number of children who reported any form of cyber-bullying on the internet or via mobile phones is 14%.
Mr Gallagher said the study highlights that cyber-bullying is a pervasive and growing problem among young people, and the numbers affected have been increasing as more children have access to internet-enabled mobile devices.
“Moreover, the exposure by young children to negative aspects of the internet including communicating with someone the child has not previously met in person has increased due to the more prevalent use of mobile internet devices.
“In order to combat this growing trend the European Union needs to take much greater action, to raise awareness and to decrease risks by funding educational programmes in each EU Member State aimed at preventing cyber-bullying and encouraging the safe use of the internet.”
“Limited funding is currently available under the European Commission supported Daphne III Programme, which aims to protect children from all forms of violence. However, the “Net Children Go Mobile” study adds further credence to the pressing need for a specialised EU wide programme focused on the fight against cyber-bullying.”Tags: