Zeeko an Irish EdTech start-up which works to educate parents to teach their children to stay safe online has announced results of its second School Digital Trend Report. Zeeko is headquartered at NovaUCD, the Centre for New Ventures and Entrepreneurs at University College Dublin.

The digital trend report is based on the work carried out by Zeeko with parents and teachers in 2016. 4,439 primary school pupils completed a questionnaire about their internet use in 29 schools between September and November 2016. In addition Zeeko asked 913 guardians of primary school pupils in 55 schools between January and June 2016 to complete a similar questionnaire.

The questionnaire was developed by Zeeko for informal information gathering during its school visits, however, the trends observed give a snapshot of children’s self-reported internet use.

Key findings include the widespread use of mobile devices by primary school children, (86% have access to a smart phone, tablet or iPod); the seemingly younger ages at which children say they have open access to the internet (on average 1st class students first went online at 4.9 years old vs 6th class students first went online at 7.6 years old); and the rise of SnapChat which has taken over Instagram as the most popular social media app with 45% of 6th class pupils now using SnapChat.

Joe Kenny, Zeeko founder and CEO said, “There is no doubt the internet is a hugely beneficial resource for young people and something they will use more than the current generation. Internet safety is all about education. Particularly for younger children it is important to raise their awareness of online risks to give them the protection and coping strategies which will help them become confident digital citizens.”

The Primary School Digital Trend Report follows on from the Report issued in January 2016 which found many children in primary school said they had experienced cyberbullying.

In 2015, Zeeko asked ‘Have you ever been cyberbullied, or have you experienced cyberbullying happening to people around you (in schools, your friends, your family etc.) to which 23% of 5th class children said they had.

In 2016, Zeeko updated the questions and divided this question into two parts a) have you ever been cyberbullied? and b) have you ever experienced cyberbullying happening to people around you (schools, friends, family, etc)?

The results for 2015 and 2016 in relation to cyberbullying are therefore not directly comparable. However, the indications are that cyberbullying is still an issue which parents need to be aware of. In 2016, the percentages of primary school children who reported being cyberbullied are still more than 10% in most classes or an average of 3 children in a typical class of 30 pupils.

Zeeko was set up in 2013 by Joe Kenny, an entrepreneur and a parent concerned about the lack of attention being given to the growing dominance of the internet in children’s lives. With backing from Enterprise Ireland and personal funding, Joe established Zeeko to provide training and education to children, parents and educators in schools to help protect children as they explore the digital world.

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