A survey has found 50% of children feel they spend too much time online and almost a quarter have seen content on the internet they would not want their parents to know about.

The findings are contained in a new survey from online safety charity CyberSafeKids, which is being released today to mark 'Safer Internet Day'.

The study of 1,600 eight to 12-year-olds found that 30% of children can go online whenever they want, a quarter said they were not allowed online before bedtime and 3% of children said they are never allowed to go online.

It found 43% said they were not allowed to chat or game with strangers, over half said they were not allowed to add friends they do not know and almost a third said they were only allowed online at certain times.

When compared by gender, the study found that a higher percentage of boys than girls had no rules in place for going online.

A quarter of children surveyed said that they find it hard to switch off from games and apps.

CyberSafeKids has joined forces with the National Parents Council to launch a new campaign called 'Same Rules Apply', which highlights the need to approach parenting children online in the same way that they are parented offline.

"We wanted the #SameRulesApply campaign to give parents and carers of children some pause for thought with regards to how we parent our children's digital lives," said Alex Cooney, CEO of CyberSafeKids.

"Our main concern is around unsupervised access, in places like bedrooms, with doors shut this can leave them vulnerable to stumbling across highly inappropriate content or being contacted by strangers in a place that should be safe and protected," Ms Cooney said.

CyberSafeKids is calling for gaming and social media platforms to take their responsibilities regarding child users far more seriously, adding that there should be legal frameworks that mandate this.

Last month, the Government announced that Niamh Hodnett will soon take up the role of Ireland's first Online Safety Commissioner.

She will have the powers to hold internet platforms to account for how they tackle the availability of harmful online content and will be responsible for the implementation of an individual complaints mechanism.

The Irish Safer Internet Centre will host a student-led event in Dublin today to mark Safer Internet Day.

The gathering will focus on promoting respect and building empathy online and will include discussions and explorations of the opportunities and challenges facing children and young people as they navigate a digital world.

Panel discussions will be moderated by Dr Niall Muldoon, Ombudsman for Children, representatives from the DCU Anti-Bullying Centre and policy experts from Webwise, Hotline.ie, ISPCC and the National Parents Council.

"Safer Internet Day is fast becoming a key part in the school calendar and this 20th anniversary is another key milestone," said Minister for Education Norma Foley.

"We will continue to support learners and school communities to ensure their online experience is a safe one."