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The risks of going online: What are children and young people really up to? Sonia Livingstone Professor of Social Psychology, Department of Media and Communications.

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Presentation on theme: "The risks of going online: What are children and young people really up to? Sonia Livingstone Professor of Social Psychology, Department of Media and Communications."— Presentation transcript:

1 The risks of going online: What are children and young people really up to? Sonia Livingstone Professor of Social Psychology, Department of Media and Communications London School of Economics and Political Science Project director, UK Children Go Online and EU Kids Online Board Member, Internet Watch Foundation Member, Home Secretary’s Task Force for Child Protection on the Internet Sonia Livingstone, Presentation to the London Grid for Learning E-Safety Conference, 20 th April 2007

2 Considerable public anxiety  Rapid diffusion  Fear of the new  Scary press coverage  Difficult to regulate  Technology changing fast  Children are the experts  Parents most concerned  Even children worried  Serious efforts being made ______________________________________________________________________ Sonia Livingstone, Presentation to the London Grid for Learning E-Safety Conference, 20 th April 2007

3 Yet we race to go online Policy  UK policy to get everyone online  Schools online (digital curriculum, etc)  Competitive, skilled labour force (UK plc)  European Information Society (Lisbon agenda) ______________________________________________________________ Access  75% of 9-19 year olds have internet access at home (ahead of adults)  92% have internet access at school (and few have no access at all)  84% use the internet at least weekly (use habitual, frequent, multi-sited)  Younger children also users (37% 5-6 yrs, 64% 7-8, ChildWise )  13% yr olds (& 3% 8-11 yrs) have access in bedroom (Ofcom 2006) ______________________________________________________________ Sonia Livingstone, Presentation to the London Grid for Learning E-Safety Conference, 20 th April 2007

4 Opportunities and dangers  Illegal content  Paedophiles, grooming, strangers  Extreme or sexual violence  Other harmful or offensive content  Racist/hate material/activities  Commercial exploitation  Biased or mis-information  Exploitation of personal information  Online-bullying, stalking, harassment  Gambling, financial scams  Self-harm (suicide, anorexia, etc)  Invasions/abuse of privacy  Illegal activities (hacking, terrorism)  Access to global information  Educational resources  Entertainment, games and fun  User-generated content production  Civic or political participation  Privacy for expression of identity  Community involvement/activism  Technological expertise and literacy  Career advancement or employment  Personal/health/sexual advice  Specialist groups and fan forums  Networking and new friendships  Share experiences with distant others Sonia Livingstone, Presentation to the London Grid for Learning E-Safety Conference, 20 th April 2007

5 What do we know? Part of everyday life  Increasingly a daily activity  First port of call for homework  Draw is online communication  Myspace 5.2 million UK users, Bebo 2.7 million  2006 USA survey of yrs) yrs: average number of ‘friends’ (SNS) = 75; of IM buddies = 52, mobile contacts = 38) ______________________________________________________________ Research  Not enough research; difficult to research; but there is some … ______________________________________________________________ Sonia Livingstone, Presentation to the London Grid for Learning E-Safety Conference, 20 th April 2007

6 Incidence of risks

7 Findings – content risks Eurobarometer (2005-6)  18% European parents/carers believe their child (<18) has encountered harmful or illegal content on the internet (more for teens than children) ______________________________________________________________ Ofcom (Media Literacy Audit of Children, 2006, UK)  16% 8-15 yr olds have come across ‘nasty, worrying or frightening’  31% 12-15s make checks on new websites (more if taught at school)  67% 12-15s trust most of what they find online (just less than TV news) ______________________________________________________________ UK Children Go Online (9-19 yr olds, 2004)  57% internet users have seen porn online, via pop-ups (38%), junk mail (25%), from contact (9%); 10% had visited porn sites on purpose  Over half ‘not bothered’ by porn, one fifth ‘disgusted’ ______________________________________________________________

8 Findings – content risks UCLA Digital Futures Survey (2003, USA)  12% yrs seek porn online on purpose ______________________________________________________________ SAFT (2003, Europe)  Quarter to third of 9-16 yr olds had accidentally seen violent, offensive, sexual or pornographic content online _____________________________________________________________ Flood and Hamilton (2003, Australian survey of yrs)  38% boys, 2% girls have searched for sex sites; 60% girls and 84% boys found explicit sex sites accidentally ______________________________________________________________ ???  Little known about type/level of porn viewed, or about incidence of other problematic content (self-harm, race hate, etc) _____________________________________________________________ Sonia Livingstone, Presentation to the London Grid for Learning E-Safety Conference, 20 th April 2007

9 Findings – contact risks National Center for Missing & Exploited Children ( yrs, USA 2000)  1 in 5 received sexual solicitation online in past year  1 in 33 receive aggressive sexual solicitation  1 in 17 was threatened/harassed  Few reported incidents or told parents  19% were involved in online aggression  Depressed teens more likely to receive unwanted sexual solicitations and to be emotionally distressed by such incidents __________________________________________________________________ Online Victimization of Youth (2006, update on above, N=1500)  Increased exposure to sexual material (34% vs 25%) and online harassment (9% vs 6%), less unwanted sexual solicitations (13% vs 19%)  4% had been asked for nude/sexually explicit photos of themselves  Those who were distressed increased (9% vs 6%)  Unwanted solicitations increasingly from acquaintances not strangers __________________________________________________________________

10 Findings – contact risks Webwise 2006 (9-16 yrs, N=848, Ireland/SAFT)  27% met someone new online who asked for their photo/phone/etc  26% had visited hateful sites (mostly boys)  35% had visited pornographic sites  23% had received unwanted sexual comments online (more boys)  19% of chatters were harassed/bothered/upset/threatened online  7% met online contact offline ___________________________________________________________ CEOP (2006, discussions yrs, UK)  Social networking experiences include verbal abuse, unwanted sexual advances, unwanted/problematic info, impersonation of identity;  Teens unclear about security of info they post, they often feel pressurised into uploading info by others;  Parents often ignorant of children’s activities ______________________________________________________________

11 Findings – contact risks Remco Pijpers Foundation (2006, N=10,900 teens<18 yrs, Holland)  30-40% has social networking profile  82% boys/ 73% girls flirted online in past 6 months  1 in 4 boys/ 1 in 5 girls had cybersexual experiences  72% boys/ 83% girls received sexual questions  40% boys/ 57% girls asked to undress on webcam; 1:3 boys/ 1:10 girls did  47% girls received unwanted request for sexual act on webcam; 2% did  62% girls/ 13% boys dislike receiving sexual questions online  35% girls/ 12% boys claim a negative experience  9% girls/ 3% boys posted sexual photos and regretted it  Most aware of ‘paedophiles’ but unclear about boundaries among teens ______________________________________________________________

12 Findings – online bullying The National Bullying Survey (2006, UK, N=4772)  69% pupils were bullied in past year (half of those were physically hurt)  7% said received unpleasant or bullying s/IM/text messages _______________________________________________________________ MSN Cyberbullying Report (2006, UK, N=516)  11% yrs cyberbullied (18% girls, 7% boys), 74% told no-one  62% know someone who’s been bullied online  1 in 20 admit to bullying someone else online ______________________________________________________________ NCH Mobile Bullying Survey (2005, UK, N=770)  20% yr olds had been bullied via text/internet/ (73% knew the person, 26% by a stranger)  10% had a photo taken of them that made them feel uncomfortable, embarrassed or threatened (17% said it was sent to others)  Who did they tell? 28% no-one, 41% friend, 24% parent, 14% teacher  11% said they’d sent a bullying or threatening message to someone _______________________________________________________________

13 Challenges: teens’ risky practices  Post pictures that reveal identity/location (sports team, school, etc)  Post sexually provocative/indecent images (via mobile or webcam)  Circulate messages to ‘friends of friends’ whose identity is unclear  Take/circulate hostile or bullying content about peers  Make personal profile info public (or, misunderstand what’s public)  Trick others into silly/embarrassing/indecent acts on webcam  Peer-to-peer encouragement of suicide, anorexia, drug-taking, self-harm  Copy private messages to all contacts  Seek new contacts, ever more ‘friends’  Express insecurities and fantasies in blogs  Choose sexual nicknames (e.g. lolita)  Push boundaries, experiment with identity _____________________________________________________________

14 Challenges: vulnerable teens  Who communicates more online? Older, girls, frequent users, skilled users, sensation-seeking, those who value anonymous online communication _________________________________________________________  Who more likely to have made an online friend? Frequent/skilled users, dissatisfied with own life, more confident online than offline, value anonymity online, more authoritarian parents _________________________________________________________  Who is more likely to meet an online friend offline? Older, new to the internet, skilled, not shy, sensation-seeking, dissatisfied, more confident online than offline, value anonymity online, more authoritarian parents _________________________________________________________  Who is more likely to have sought personal advice online? Older, infrequent users, skilled users, dissatisfied, value anonymity online ___________________________________________________________  Who is more likely to have given out personal information online? Older, frequent and skilled users, sensation-seeking, dissatisfied, value anonymity online, more authoritarian parents

15 Challenges: parents’ role Risks and opportunities linked  The more teens take up online benefits, the more risks they encounter  Like riding a bike, more skill means more, not less, risk  Actions to reduce risk by restricting behaviour also reduce opportunities ______________________________________________________________ Balancing children’s protection against children’s rights  Teens value their privacy online and seek to protect it  They avoid telling parents of bad experiences for fear of restrictions  They need private means of communication if threat within family  Games families play – parental rules make for children’s evasive tactics _____________________________________________________________ Parental regulation not (yet) shown to be effective  Parents face range of challenges (expertise, privacy, democratic role)  Parents implement informal regulation (share, discuss, restrict)  But no demonstrable link to their children’s online risks  Except banning most interactive activities restricts use (risks + benefits)

16 Challenges: schools’ role UKCGO 2004 survey of 9-19 yr olds:  30% no lessons on internet use, 23% ‘a lot’, 28% ‘some’, 19% ‘just 1 or 2’  69% taught to search (but 41% only look at top 10; 37% compare sites)  Younger and older had less guidance on safety, search, reliability  Only 33% told how to judge the reliability of online information  Few pupils would tell a teacher if uncomfortable with online experience ______________________________________________________________ Safety awareness:  Parents prefer to get safety info from schools  Optimism re internet literacy  How much is enough?  Gap between awareness and behaviour  Hardest to reach those who most need it  Don’t rely on parents  Towards joined-up, multi-stakeholder solutions

17 Conclusions  Is the glass half full or half empty?  We live in a ‘risk society’, and young people are in the vanguard  Challenge to minimise risks while maximising opportunities  Policy favours the individualisation of risk  Multi-stakeholder efforts ongoing to raise awareness and reduce risk  Schools have a vital role to play in fostering internet literacy  More research needed to update knowledge and target interventions

18 Sonia Livingstone For more, see Thank you Sonia Livingstone, Presentation to the London Grid for Learning E-Safety Conference, 20 th April 2007


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