Children’s views on internet safety

We have conducted a survey seeking young people’s views of online safety and social media, to coincide with the Government’s consultation on its Internet Safety Strategy. We were keen to provide government with firm evidence of what young people think, in the hope that their views will inform and influence upcoming government policy proposals.

The survey was sent to teachers in the Computing At Schools network, which includes those teaching at some 1,700+ primary and secondary schools in England. The survey ran from 27 November 2017 - 1 January 2018, and received 6,505 responses.

The survey produced some interesting results, and highlighted how young people’s attitudes towards online safety shifts as they get older. It indicated that they are eager to have more information on the extent to which bullying is happening online, and that younger children particularly would welcome increased online education in schools.

Respondents were realistic about the fact that, even with more information on the extent of antisocial content appearing on the platforms, they would be unlikely to reduce their use of social media. This was despite the survey indicating that young people don’t tend to think companies give any consideration to the needs of children their age when developing the websites or apps that they will end up using.

Our survey showed that younger children in particular were in favour of social media platforms removing offensive or abusive content or direct messages automatically, without the need for a user complaint to be made first. As might be expected, the survey suggested that as children grow older, they become less sure about wanting to be shielded from offensive or abusive content.