Nearly half of Irish teens prefer to carry out online activity secretly

Summer is officially over and teenagers around the country are being rounded up to go back to school. This means that teens are spending more time indoors and probably more time online, chatting to friends on Twitter and capturing their lives through SnapChat.

We recently came across an interesting study of Irish teenagers, that compared their online behaviour to that of American and British counterparts. As broadband access becomes more prevalent in urban and rural areas in Ireland, the survey reveals the importanceof parents being clued in to their children's behaviour and activity online.

Overall, the study found that Irish teens are more secretive when it comes to online activity than US and UK teenagers. The study was carried out by YouGov on behalf of Ask.fm between May and June 2015. It had 2,905 respondents in Ireland, the UK and the US, including 206 Irish teenagers and their parents.

The full report is titled Digital Families 2015: Evolving Attitudes Around Social Media and App Use. Here are the main discoveries.

  • Irish teenagers are more likely to hide their social media activity from their parents than their counterparts from the US and UK
  • More than a quarter (27%) of Irish teenagers aged between 13 and 18 years old admitted they feel the need to hide what they view online from their parents
  • Just 10 per cent of US teens and 11 per cent of UK teens admit to feeling the need to maintain the same level of secrecy
  • When it comes to anonymity and sharing their identities, nearly 50% of Irish teenagers prefer to remain anonymous when sharing new ideas and expressing opinions online
  • 46% of Irish teens prefer not to share their identity online for fear of being made fun of
  • The research showed that Irish teens are more anxious about being laughed at for talking about boyfriends or girlfriends and problems at home online than their UK and US counterparts
  • Only 32 per cent of US respondents were concerned about being ridiculed for sharing online
  • The highest proportion (65%) of Irish parents worry their child may give away personal information to strangers, putting them at greater risk of being targeted by adult predators
  • Almost 50% of UK parents don’t monitor their teenagers' online activity compared to just 20% of Irish parents
  • More than a third of all parents surveyed admitted knowing their teenage child's password and logging into their accounts
  • Irish parents are more concerned about online bullying than parents in the UK and US, it appears to be more of a problem in person rather than online
  • 43% of parents said their child had experienced bullying in the physical world while only 13% said their child had suffered cyberbullying
  • The study warns that parents are not making an effort to keep up with their children’s social media interests
  • A third of Irish parents have never used Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram, three of the top five social networks used by Irish teenagers.

For more comment and analysis on the research, please visit The Irish Times.