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Children's online behaviour displays worrying trends

LGfl survey gives startling insight into online behaviour of 7-16 year olds

Posted by Alex Diggins | August 06, 2018 | Business

Not-for-profit educational charity LGfL has called for technology companies to call for change and put the safety of children first in light of findings from its latest report.

That 1 in 10 children who video chat with strangers have been asked to change or undress on camera is just one of the startling statistics revealed in Hopes and Streams – the UK’s largest ever nationwide online safety survey of 40,000 children aged 7-16. The survey was conducted by LGfL DigiSafe, the safeguarding arm of the London Grid for Learning which supports over 3000 schools in London and beyond in all areas of education technology.

John Jackson, CEO at LGfL, commented: “It’s incredibly important that we all harness the findings from the survey to drive positive change and a much better understanding of how technology, particularly social media, is impacting children. It is encouraging to see government getting behind these calls for change with papers such as the Internet Safety Strategy. It’s crucial that technology companies embrace these policies and put safety first when it comes to new developments.”   

The key findings of the report were:

Video chatting and live streaming 

  • Nearly one in ten children who video chat with people they haven’t met have been asked to change or undress on camera 
  • Youngest pupils (aged 7 – 8) were just as likely to be asked to get undressed as students in the first four years of secondary school
  • One in eight pupils said they had video chatted with someone they had not met in person.

Experiences on apps, sites and games 

  • 3.5% said that the apps helped them feel good about their body
  • Over 50% of pupils wanted privacy settings to be made better, easier and clearer 
  • Nearly 1 in 3 pupils say it’s hard to stop using apps, sites and games 

Contact risk – making friends and meeting people online

  • One in three young people have made new friends online (who they did not know previously)
  • Boys are more than twice as likely as girls to chat to people they have never met face-to-face or go on to talk to new gaming friends on other sites or messaging apps 
  • One in ten 7-16 year olds have made friends with an adult online for the first time 
  • Of those who met an online friend in person 81% took or told somebody else. 

It’s incredibly important that we all harness the findings from the survey to drive positive change and a much better understanding of how technology – John Jackson, CEO LGfl

Seeing, sending and receiving content

  • 22.4% of pupils had seen violent images/videos online
  • 12.8% of these had received these from a young person and 6.2% from an adult 
  • Boys were a quarter more likely than girls to see this material 
  • 41% of 15-16 year-olds have seen violent images or videos online 
  • 9% of those surveyed had received a naked or semi-naked image from another young person
  • 15.1% of secondary students had received a sexual message; 5.4% from an adult
  • 5.1% of secondary students said they had sent a sexual message themselves; 1.8% to an adult. 

We are concerned by the mental health concerns raised by the survey, particularly regarding self-harm – Mark Bentley, Online Safety, LGfl Digisafe

Pornography 

  • 14.5% of secondary pupils admitted to having seen pornography online
  • This began from 5.3% in the first year of secondary school, doubling to 10.8% of 12-13 year olds, 18.1% of 13-14 year olds, 24.2% of 14-15 year olds and 31.9% of 15-16 year olds. 

Online friendships, bullying and mental health

  • 1 in 4 pupils report being bullied online
  • 1 in 13 pupils admitted to bullying others online
  • 1 in 3 pupils has witnessed bullying online
  • Almost 1 in 6 pupils have seen something that encourages self-harm. 

Mark Bentley, Online Safety and Safeguarding Manager at LGfL DigiSafe, said of the results: “The danger of meeting strangers online is often treated as the main online safety concern. This report however, shows that today violent or sexual content has become far more prevalent. We are concerned by the mental health concerns raised by the survey, particularly regarding self-harm. It is however encouraging to see that so many pupils consider the internet a force for good.”

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