A new study conducted on behalf of London Grid for Learning suggests one third of young people have made friends online with people they did not know before and over half of these have met up in person.
40% of boys have made friends with strangers online compared to 32% of girls. Online gaming seems to be the main route for bonding with strangers, as games consoles were frequently cited as the device used.
The report ‘Young People and e-safety’ was prepared by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) and commissioned by the London Grid for Learning (LGfL).
Key findings from the report, which surveyed 16,855 London school children aged 7-16, include:
How do young people access the Internet?
- 9 out of 10 access the Internet outside of school.
- 41% of seven-year-olds, 71% of 10- year-olds and 80% of 15- year-olds own their own Internet device.
- 71% of 15-year-olds use their device in private, compared to 40% of seven-year- olds.
- 1 in 4 admit that their parents do not know what they do online.
- Of those young people using social network sites, just over a third have made friends with people online that they did not know before and nearly half of these have gone on to meet this person in real life.
- 41% went alone.
- 40% of boys have made friends with strangers online compared to 32% of girls. Games consoles were frequently cited as the device used, indicating that young people are mainly bonding with strangers through online gaming.
- 1 in 5 report that they have been bullied online.
- 1 in 10 admit to bullying others online.
Access to inappropriate content:
- 10% play games which are deemed inappropriate for their age.
- 16% reported that they had found or been sent online content which made them feel uncomfortable.
However, the report says there is cause to remain optimistic as many of the survey’s statistics indicate young people are behaving responsibly online. For example, the majority of young people recognise that some websites are more trustworthy than others and know that they should not believe everything they see online. Furthermore, of those who have been bullied online, 60% told someone about it, stopping the bullying in 77% of cases.
Brian Durrant, Chief Executive at LGfL, said “This is a substantial survey which tells us a great deal about developments in children’s online behaviour and the risks and issues that need to be addressed. However we are encouraged by many of the findings and we hope that the guidance we provide will help schools ensure all pupils are equipped with the knowledge to use the Internet safely, as it is ultimately a wonderful thing.”
The full report can be read at www.pupilsurvey.lgfl.net.
The number of children who have met someone in person after befriending them online sounds like it could be a cause for concern, especially as so many are going to these meetings alone.
Your reactions to this or any of the other findings from this report? Please share in the comments or via Twitter…
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