This is Alex Cooney’s bright idea for Dublin.

We will use technology to empower parents to support their kids in their digital well-being.

WHY VOTE FOR US

Our focus is on reaching as many pre-teen kids in Ireland as possible with messages about how to use and enjoy technology safely and responsibly.

Children access the Internet at an increasingly young age; a 2016 study showed that 52% of 6-8 year olds in Ireland have Internet access and 21% can download/install software.

As their online access grows, so does their exposure to risks ranging from cyberbullying, loss of personal data, exposure to inappropriate content, to the more worrying prospect of adults who meet and groom children online.

Yet less than 20% of parents actually supervise their childrens’ online activity. Reaching parents is a critical part of the solution.

We provide parents’ talks in schools, but getting parents in the door remains a challenge, especially if they are not aware of online risks to their childrens’ wellbeing.

We want to broaden the ways in which we reach parents and the numbers we reach using innovative means of getting key messages to them that don’t necessarily involve attendance at a talk.

We in Cybersafe Ireland are seeking funds to develop a short (2-min) script animation piece for our website that provides helpful tips to keep children safe online.

There is a worrying digital divide between parents and their children; a study carried out in 2016 found that parents are overly reliant on their child’s account of their social media use and not sufficiently aware of risks.

Schools are feeling a lot of pressure in relation to Internet safety and have an important role to play but the Net Children Go Mobile report for Ireland (2015) showed that most children (63%) are using the Internet at home and almost 50% in their bedroom, away from parental supervision.

Officially, children under the age of 13 are not allowed to use social media but most of the 9-10 year olds that we meet already have a considerable social media presence. Early stage intervention is critical, before their online behaviour becomes more embedded.

Unlike other programmes that focus on the dangers, we empower parents to deal with this issue using an open, informed approach based on good communication.

We have spoken to more than 1,500 children since we started in January and based on feedback and follow-up, we know that we are making a significant impact. The challenge for us now is to reach more parents to ensure that those messages are upheld at home too.