Over 80 per cent of children aged 8-12 use social media and instant messaging apps despite minimum age restrictions, according to a recent survey.
The annual report of CyberSafeKids Ireland surveyed almost 4,000 pre-teens, finding 93 per cent of them owned their own smart device.
The Irish Examiner reports the most popular apps used by children were YouTube (74 per cent), TikTok (46 per cent), WhatsApp (39 per cent) and Snapchat (37 per cent), all of which have a minimum age restriction of 13-years-old.
The study also found that 80 per cent played online games, while 61 per cent said they had been contacted by a stranger while playing on the internet, an increase of 16 per cent on last year's figures.
Approximately 25 per cent of the children surveyed said they had experienced something which had bothered or upset them which they did not want their parents to know about and 30 per cent said they did not tell a parent or anybody else about the experience, rising from 20 per cent last year.
CyberSafeKids chief executive Alex Cooney said tighter regulation is needed, in addition to more effective parenting, with the report finding 30 per cent of children said they could 'go online whenever I want' and 13 per cent said 'there are no rules' regarding Internet usage.
"We need to recognise as parents that when children are active online, or even beforehand, that we prepare them," Ms Cooney said.
The report also asked teachers about the impact of online activity in schools, to which 80 per cent said online safety was a significant issue in their school.