connect 2018 • 43 P R O F I L E : C Y B E R S A F E I R E L A N D A Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Awardee Children today are growing up in a connected world and are fluent in the use of technology in a way that most of their parents will never be. They are not, however, equipped with the skills that they need to navigate the online world safely and responsibly. We need to mitigate against risks such as loss of personal data, cyberbullying, exposure to inappropriate content and, online grooming and extortion. CyberSafeIreland believes that the solution lies in education and our focus is on reaching children in primary schools aged between 8 and 13, when they are first starting to use smartphones and tablets more independently. Our classes are interactive and fun and we engage the children in discussions on important topics such as peer pressure and what it means to be an “upstander.” We target parents too, because it is essential that they are engaging in their children’s online lives. In 2016, we won a place on the Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Awards program which has made an enormous difference to our organization, particularly in terms of developing our strategy and building good communications but also in terms of raising our profile, which in turn, allows us to reach a much wider audience. Social Entrepreneurs Ireland helped us to “think big”: we’ve engaged over 8,500 children to date but our aim over the next 5 years is to reach at least 200,000. We won’t rest until we have national solutions to this growing problem and the support of Social Entrepreneurs Ireland has meant we’re one step closer to doing just that. — Alex Cooney, CEO and co-founder of CyberSafeIreland