Programme launched to help pupils use internet more safely
Schools are paying greater attention to internet safety for their pupils, latest figures suggest.
The Department of Education's Webwise internet safety initiative for schools and parents reports a 25pc increase in the use of its resources over the past year.
Webwise is operated by the department's Professional Development Service for Teachers, which today launches a new safety education programme aimed at third and fourth class pupils.
The HTML Heroes package, an eight-lesson plan using animation, is the latest addition to the Webwise suite of internet safety resources. It is linked to the Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) curriculum.
It was developed in consultation with a panel of experts within the fields of special education, online safety, digital technology and SPHE.
HTML Heroes introduces students to the internet, explains how it works and addresses topics such as privacy, cyberbullying and evaluating information online. It also addresses growing concerns about online gaming, advertising and social media.
Recent research showed how children have access to the internet earlier and earlier.
According to data from the Growing Up in Ireland study, 40pc owned a mobile phone by the age of nine. Children from more socially disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to have a mobile phone than children with parents who have higher incomes and higher levels of education.
Apart from phones, children may have another "smart" electronic device, such as a tablet or gaming console, giving them access to the online world and, potentially, contact with strangers.
Education Minister Joe McHugh said everyone had "a duty to teach children how to avoid the dangers that the internet throws at us.
But there is also an onus on us all to help children understand what is right and wrong, what behaviour is acceptable and how we should show respect for one another online".