NSPCC Study Finds Children Don’t Feel Safe Online

NSPCC Study children onlineChildren are not feeling protected when they’re online, according to a recent study by the NSPCC. 1,696 children aged between 11 and 18 years were questioned as part of the NSPCC’s Net Aware programme.  Four out of five children feel that the social media companies they use aren’t doing enough to keep them safe. The study also revealed that children were being exposed to bullying, self-harm messages and images they don’t feel are appropriate. The riskiest sites rated by the children in the study were Facebook and Ask.fm.

Rating Websites, Apps and Games

The children were questioned about different experiences such as the signing up process and to see how appropriate the content was for their age group. They were also questioned about if they could report or block people on the site, game or app as well as change privacy settings and get support.

1,380 children out of the 1,695 that were questioned said that social media websites need to do more to stop them seeing harmful or inappropriate content.  A 16-year-old girl said that Ask.fm didn’t have strict controls and so lots of hurtful messages were being spread about people, which she believes contributes to self-harm and negative thoughts.  A spokesperson for Ask.fm said that the company takes the findings very seriously. They have contacted the NSPCC to learn more about the findings are working to improve tools and policies to protect their users.

Being Themselves in Virtual Worlds

Other websites that were rated include IMVU and Omegle. One 18-year-old male said he enjoyed using IMVU as he could be himself; choose how his avatar looks in the 3D virtual world and talk to people that don’t know him.

Peter Wanless, the NSPCC chief executive said that the ‘children don’t feel they are being shielded from upsetting, dangerous and adult content.  It’s vital parents know about their child’s online world and regularly talk with their children about how to get help if they need it.”

Read our 10 tips on how to help children stay safe online, here. Further advice is available from the NSPCC website.