Young People’s Use of Internet and Smartphones

Project Partners/Funders

Fund Award Amount

Project News

Project Overview

To help understand the ever-changing opportunities and risks of the online world, up-to-date research and data is needed. The data gathered by this study will help inform the work of Webwise and DCU Anti-Bullying Centre including the development of up-to-date training, resources and support for educators, young people and parents/guardians.

This study is focused on young people’s smartphone and Internet use, with the intention of gaining a deeper understanding of their online behaviour. In the run-up to SID 2024, in collaboration with Webwise, we selected the topic of misinformation, including “deepfakes”. We wanted to study the credibility and spread of misinformation online among children and young people in Ireland. The co-design phase, where we worked with the Webwise youth panel, has shaped the final survey instrument.

For the team at ABC, this research builds on the 2021 findings by the National Advisory Council for Online Safety (NACOS), addressing the concern of AI being used for harassment and cyberbullying. The issue is highlighted by the rise of AI-generated “deepfake” images used for sexual image abuse. Despite limited literature on why children and young people create and spread harmful AI content, it likely follows patterns similar to the spread of misinformation. Relevant factors include smartphone usage, online behaviour, digital literacy, self-efficacy, and involvement in other forms of cyberbullying. Lacking validated measures for children and young people’s attitudes towards AI-generated content, a co-design approach was proposed in this study.

Project Goals

The project goals will be to explore:

  • to what extent children and young people in Ireland are engaged in and aware of misinformation and AI-generated content;
  • what variables are acting as moderators for engagement in this behaviour.

Research Areas

Artificial Intelligence (AI), Cyberbullying, Harassment, Deepfakes, Children, Young People, Online Behaviour, Digital Literacy, Misinformation, Self-Efficacy


Report and Publications in Progress

Principal Investigator

Research Team

Catherine Baker

Dr Maryam Esfandiari

Darran Heaney

Prof James O’Higgins Norman

Dr Carol O’Toole

Dr Megan Reynolds

Sandra Sanmartín Feijóo

Beatrice Sciacca