Back to Top

 Skip navigation

Extra information
Methodology Previous Releases
International comparison:
See also:
YouTube Video
For more information on this release:
E-mail: Helen McGrath (+353) 21 453 5108 Aeidin Sheppard (+353) 21 453 5025
For general information on CSO statistics: (+353) 21 453 5000 On-line ISSN 2009-681X
CSO statistical release, , 11am

Census At School

October 2018

Social media is the main news source for Irish students

Figure 1 Main source of news
go to full release


Please note: This survey is voluntary. It is not part of a representative sampling process. Hence, the results of the survey are less reliable in providing inferences about the overall secondary school student population.


From an estimated 357,000 secondary school students, 2,253 (0.6%) students completed the Phase 17 questionnaire of the CensusAtSchool survey. It was available between September 2017 and August 2018. The Phase 17 questionnaire covered a variety of topics including:

  • FIFA World Cup
  • dietary habits/choices
  • trust in the media
  • student fitness.

Interesting findings from Phase 17 results: 

  • Half of students (50.2%) use social media as their main news source. Almost three in five females (56.2%) identified social media as the main source compared to two in four male students (40.7%). However, when asked to rank the level of trust in news sources, students ranked social media and magazines as being less trustworthy than other established media sources. See Figure 1, 2 and 3.
  • Over a third of students (36.9%) ranked the reason “To have fun” as the main motivating reason to play sport. The least important reason was “To win”. See Figure 4.
  • Skill was the most popular physical ability selected by students. Over a quarter of males (26.6%) selected strength as the ability they would prefer compared to only one in ten (9.9%) of females. See Figure 5.
  • Female students have a slightly lower average resting heart rate (68 beats per minute (bpm)) than males (71bpm). After a short burst of exercise, males displayed a greater percentage rise in their average bpm (51.7% increase) than females (38.0% increase). See Figure 6.
  • Male students were more likely to know that the 2018 World Cup was in Russia than female students. Male students were also over two times more likely to correctly guess the winner of the World Cup as 14.4% of male students guessed correctly compared to only 6.3% of female students. See Figure 7.
  • The most popular food for female students was carbohydrates with 39.1% of females selecting it. The most popular food type for male students was protein with over half of male students (52.5%) selecting it. See Figure 8a and 8b.
  • Over half of students (56.5%) reported that they did not eat crisps and one fifth of students (21.7%) did not have sweets. Two in five students (41%) reported having at least two portions of both fruit and vegetables usually. See Figure 9.
  • Kylie Jenner was the most popular choice for all students when asked who they would like to live like for a day, selected by 6.6% of students. Gender differences are evident with 11.6% of female students choosing Kylie Jenner while 8.4% of male students choosing Cristiano Ronaldo. See Table 1, Figure 10a and 10b.

Background information:
CensusAtSchool is a non-profit making international project. It is funded by organisations interested in promoting good use of statistics, mathematics and data handling. Ireland became involved in CensusAtSchool in 2009. Four Irish bodies are collaborating in this project:

  • the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST)
  • the CSO
  • Project Maths 
  • the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA).

The Irish website,, has been in place since 2009.

Social Media56.1540.68
Talking with my friends3.672.44

 Figure 3 Students' trust in news sources

To have funTo stay healthyTo exerciseTo improve my skillsTo win
1st place36.883547451305427.559055118110217.11562370493169.283050145047669.15872358060506
2nd place15.809128630705430.414937759336125.85062240663920.58091286307057.34439834024896
3rd place19.344126193441319.759236197592427.231216272312224.32544624325459.33997509339975
4th place16.279069767441912.37541528239219.102990033222636.503322259136215.7392026578073
5th place11.71096345514959.8837209302325610.71428571428579.4269102990033258.2641196013289
Endurance (Stamina)26.638655462184921.6216216216216
Agility (Nimbleness)7.983193277310926.15097856477167

 Figure 6 Average student heart rate before and after exercise

World Cup winner6.2714.38
World Cup location 77.786.9
% of female students
Dairy (milk,
yogurt, cheese)
Protein (meat,
eggs, nuts)
% of male students
No portions56.4721.674.984.78
Up to two portions35.8763.5453.9354.14
Two to four portions4.910.6732.1530.26
Over four portions 2.764.128.9310.83
Table 1 Who would you like to live like for a day?
Person chosen by student% of students
Kylie Jenner6.6%
Selena Gomez3.5%
Bill Gates2.9%
Kim Kardashian2.7%
Lionel Messi2.2%
Conor Mcgregor2.1%
Ariana Grande2.0%
Donald Trump1.7%
% of female students
Kylie Jenner11.6117850953206
Selena Gomez6.23916811091854
Kim Kardashian4.67937608318891
% of male students
Cristiano Ronaldo8.4055459272097
Bill Gates4.41941074523397
Lionel Messi3.63951473136915
Conor McGregor3.29289428076256

Background Notes

About CensusAtSchools

The Royal Statistical Centre for Statistical Education (RSSCSE) started the CensusAtSchool project in 2000 in conjunction with the Office of National Statistics (ONS) in the UK. The project, originally a one-off, was linked to the UK population census of 2001. It has now developed into a dynamic, on-going and exciting initiative running in a number of countries. Further information can be found here:



New Zealand



2,253 secondary school attendees from 103 secondary schools completed the Phase 17 questionnaire of the CensusAtSchool survey between September 2017 and August 2018. Because the survey is not part of a representative sampling process, the results of the survey are less reliable in providing inferences about the overall secondary school student population.

The CensusAtSchool Phase 17 questionnaire and more results from the survey can be found on the CensusAtSchool website at

A data tool for examining international CensusAtSchool data can be found:
It can be further explored using the facilities inbuilt in the inZight site operated by Statistics New Zealand.

Map 1 Student participation in CensusAtSchool Phase 17 questionnaire classified by county location of school

Note: The map only includes survey responses when the roll number on the questionnaire response matched a school roll number provided by the Department of Education and Skills.

upArrowHide Background Notes

Scan the QR code below to view this release online or go to