Cyberpsychologist Dr Mary Aiken said Ireland should be at the forefront in this field with its role as an important hub for technology companies.
The justice committee is examining the nature and extent of cyberbullying, harassment, stalking and revenge porn.
Dr Aiken, a professor at the Department of Law and Criminology, University of East London, said internet and social media influence is “not an abstract concept”.
She added: “Its impact is not virtual, it impacts real lives in the real world.”
She told the committee there is a relationship between cyberbullying, self-esteem, and self-harm, as well as between sexted images, harassment, online coercion and extortion.
Digital Rights Ireland chair TJ McIntyre accused the Government failing to properly resource the Garda to deal with online harassment, and a need for law reform on access to internet data.
He added: “As long as the level of under-resourcing continues it is hard to see how any significant number of cases of online harassment can be pursued, creating the risk that any expansion of the criminal law in this area will go unenforced.”
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Despite this Barrister Ronan Lupton told the justice committee there are six piece of legislation that need examined.
One of these is the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989 of which he said: “It is a difficult act to decipher let alone prosecute.
He also described the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act as “stale” and “out of date”.