New research suggests that over 40% of children aged eight to 13 talk to people online that they do not know in real life.

The finding is contained in CyberSafeIreland's annual report.

More than 3,500 children aged between eight and 13 answered the anonymous online survey, which found that 92% of them owned their own smart device.

The survey found that 43% said they talk to people they do not know in real life online, with a third speaking to strangers every day or at least once a week.

Of those surveyed, 24% of eight-year-olds and 28% of nine-year-olds were regularly talking to strangers online.

CyberSafeIreland said that children were engaging with strangers online often through games, which have a chat facility, and through social media.

Its research shows that 63% of children who are speaking to strangers every day are also gaming and 84% are also on social media and messaging apps.

It also found that children in schools in disadvantaged areas are 29% more likely to talk to strangers every day.

While the report says that all the data cannot be taken as nationally representative, it suggests that 12% of children aged eight to 13, are spending more than four hours a day online.

CyberSafe Ireland said that was equivalent to 61 days a year looking at a screen.

The report also states that 36% of children rarely or never talk to their parents about online safety, an increase of 20% from last year and that boys are much less likely to regularly talk to their parents on the issue.

Snapchat is the most popular app for children aged eight to 13, followed by Whatsapp, Instagram and TikTok.

Of the 140 teachers surveyed, 59% said they are having to deal with online safety incidences such as cyberbullying in the classroom.

CyberSafeIreland has urged the Government to introduce a long-term strategy on children's online safety.

It said there needs to be a robust monitoring and regulation of online service providers.