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. Online gaming seems to be the main route for bonding with strangers, as games consoles were frequently cited as the device used. These are just some of the alarming statistics revealed in a new report ‘Young People and e-safety’ prepared by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) and commissioned by the London Grid for Learning (LGfL) a not-for-profit 2,500-strong community of London schools.
Key findings from the report, which surveyed 16,855 London school children aged 7-16, include:
How do young people access the Internet?
- Nine 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.
- One in four 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.
- One in five report that they have been bullied online.
- One 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 there is cause to remain optimistic – 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. 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.”
To address the areas of concern, LGfL’s expert esafety team has provided recommendations detailing how schools can support young people – and their families – in increasing their online safety. Questions such as “How do you help young people understand what images are appropriate to share?” and “Do you know which of your pupils have limited access to technology at home?” invites schools to consider if any changes need to be made to their esafety policies. LGfL also offers esafety resources and software for LGfL connected schools alongside broadband, associated ICT services and BETT award-winning curriculum content.
The report can be read at www.pupilsurvey.lgfl.net.
For esafety resources, tips and advice, schools can head to www.esafety lgfl.net/