June 7th 2017
Findings revealed in the latest update to the Net Aware guide – published by children's charity NSPCC – show how easy it is for school children to access dangerous and harmful material online – despite repeated calls for improvements iin online safety.
The study found out that of the 1,725 school children who took part :
– 50% have seen sexual, violent and other adult material on social media sites, apps and games
– 78% of children reported that they had joined social media sites before reaching the specified minimum age
The Net Aware guide – now available as a free mobile app for iOS and Android – is the UK's only parents' guide to 50 of the most popular social media sites, apps, and games that young people use. Information in the guide is based on reviews from more than 500 parents, who make up the NSPCC's 'Parent Advisory Board', and 1,725 school children. The research revealed young people were more likely than parents to report seeing harmful content on three quarters of the sites they looked at.
While young people rated Chatroulette, Omegle and Tumblr as high risk for sexual content, parents rated them as low risk – highlighting the need for parents to find out more about these sites.
Peter Wanless, NSPCC CEO, said: "Our Net Aware research has shown that children are far more likely than parents to report seeing sexual, violent, or other adult content on social media. It's vital that parents sit down together with their children regularly to talk about which social media sites they are using, and how to get help if they need it.
"More than 60% of young people we asked said social media platforms need to do more to keep children safe. These companies need to take more responsibility for keeping children safe online. We think there should be minimum standards in place and a new regulator may be required if industry cannot regulate itself.
Thankfully, it's not all bad news. Around half of the sites in Net Aware have made improvements to their privacy settings and reporting functions – a trend I hope will continue. The NSPCC will continue to campaign for a safer internet, provide support for children through ChildLine, and advise parents our partnership with O2."
Nina Bibby, Marketing and Consumer Director at O2, said: "As a parent, it can be difficult to keep up with the many different websites, apps and games our tech-savvy children know so intimately. It's vital that parents actively participate in their children's digital life to help them stay safe online.
"At O2, we believe we have an important role to play in giving both parents and children the necessary digital skills to safely make the most of technology. That's why the latest Net Aware guide and our partnership with the NSPCC is all about giving parents the support, advice and information they need to have the right kind of conversations about the online world."
Six new sites have now been added to the Net Aware guide: Dubsmash, Google Hangouts, Steam, Simpsons Tapped Out, YouNow and Roblox.