Published Tuesday, 11 February 2014
The research from the National Children's Bureau Northern Ireland (NCB NI) research, commissioned by the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM), is being highlighted as part of Safer Internet Day.
The main reasons for going online were to access social networking sites (87%), watch video clips (81%), download films/music/books (73%) and do homework (63%).
While almost half of surveyed young people are described as medium users, meaning they access the internet for two to four hours each day, more than one-in-five spend five or more hours a day on the web.
To mark Safer Internet Day, NCB NI will be taking part in school visits with OFMDFM, aimed at encouraging young people to embrace the positive experiences offered by the internet, while ensuring they are fully equipped to deal with any negative ones they might encounter.
Commenting on the interim research findings, Celine McStravick, Director of NCB NI, said: "The internet has opened up a world of opportunities for our children and it is clear to see the many benefits this has for our society.
"Yet, there are risks. Young people revealed that they stay online late at night and there are concerns from parents and teachers alike that this is to the detriment of their education. The research also highlighted that many parents and carers do not know what their children are doing online and are concerned about their child's safety."
The fact that so many young people are going online every day is an indication of the importance of the internet in today's society.
Celine McStravick, Director, National Children's Bureau NI
Alongside this research, NCB NI has recently completed a report for the Safeguarding Board NI which considered the messages being delivered to young people, parents and practitioners around e-safety.
Risks that children and young people can face online have been classified into four main areas: content, contact, conduct and commercial.
These are risks surrounding young people accessing harmful content, being inappropriately contacted by another adult, being involved in illegal online conduct and being exposed to inappropriate advertising.
A key concern for many young people is experiencing bullying online or through mobile and smart phones.
Research from the Department of Education in 2011 showed that 15.5% of pupils in Year 6 and 17% of pupils in Year 9 had experienced cyber bullying in the previous few months.
Lee Kane, Regional Anti-Bullying Coordinator at the Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum, has welcomed the call for greater cooperation to tackle this issue.
"We know the ways children and young people interact and communicate with each other has changed dramatically over the past decade. As a society we need to be aware of these changes, and the risk of bullying young people can face online, just as they do in the physical world.
"To effectively target this issue it is essential that all the appropriate agencies and organisations work together in a coordinated and consistent manner. One of the recommendations coming out of the Safeguarding Board's report on e-safety was the establishment of an E-Safety Forum for Northern Ireland and we look forward to supporting this important development."
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