Listening to young people and their experiences is vital to tackling risks posed by social media, a Fine Gael TD has said.
Chair of the Oireachtas Children and Youth Affairs Committee, Alan Farrell, said: “Today’s Committee meeting gave me the opportunity to listen to the concerns, worries, and experiences of young people regarding the risks posed by social media usage.
“The Committee is working through hearings on the topic of cyber-safety and today we had one of our most valuable discussions on this matter, with students from Newbridge College and representatives from Comhairle na nÓg discussing the impact that cyber-bullying across each social media platform can have.
“It would be a dereliction of our duty as legislators not to listen to the views of young people who are particularly vulnerable to cyber-bullying and the dangers of over-sharing online.
“Our younger generations are more familiar with how people use different social media platforms, what actions can be taken to hide such usage from parents and guardians, and unfortunately, in some cases, they are more aware of the most common aspects of cyber-bullying.
“It is clear to me from the Committee’s engagement with these young adults that they have extensive knowledge of the risks of social media. They are also concerned that their counterparts do not fully understand the dangers posed by sexting, over-sharing on social media, and online grooming.
“While social media has many benefits, it is clear it poses a significant number of challenges for young people and adults.
“One young person who appeared before the Committee highlighted that 25% of all children have come across harmful content online and 11% have seen or received sexual content. They also brought attention to the fact that less than one in five parents supervises their child’s online activity.
“The Committee heard the concerns of one young person who said that due to the lack of education provided to young people, the problem of sexting is getting out of control, and there is a lack of awareness among young people of the illegalities associated with this matter.
“I must commend the students, and representatives of Comhairle na nÓg who appeared before the Committee. The insight they have provided, and the work which Comhairle na nÓg has carried out in terms of increasing awareness, and working to educate young people on the dangers of social media in invaluable to protecting children and young adults from the dangers which can occur online,” said the Fine Gael TD.