More than a quarter of children with smartphones are talking to strangers online every week.
Age restrictions on popular social media sites are meaningless according to new research which shows 68 percent of 8 to 13 year olds own their own smartphone with a similar number using social media and messaging apps.
A survey of over 5,000 children, parents and teachers found that 41 percent of 8 and 9 years are playing games for over-18s, which can expose them to inappropriate and potentially damaging content.
The annual report for CyberSafeIreland found 20 percent of 12 year olds are spending four hours or more on line daily, and 18 percent of 8 to 13 year old children are talking to strangers every day, which is a three-fold increase from last year.
It says the data highlights the need for education programmes with parents and children, adding that it's vital the Government does more to address the issue.
Communications Minister Denis Naughten says it's something that he's focusing on:
"I’ll be asking Facebook and Google executives when I meet them in San Francisco to outline any new proposals or technical mechanisms that they could apply to their systems that would deal with this problem effectively. Age verification on social media sites is a complex area that all of us as parents need to be far more aware of but we also need social media companies to make it a lot more difficult for underage children to set up these accounts in the first instance so I’ll be asking the companies what can be done in practical terms."