Children prefer online chat to real conversation

Posted: 7th July 2021

Three times as many primary children would rather chat to their friends online than in person, a report suggests.

Research conducted over the past year found that only 23 per cent of children aged five to 11 said their favourite way of communicating with friends was in person.

The rest preferred talking online, 60 per cent using online messaging, 11 per cent via gaming and the rest through other types of online communication.

The results come from anonymous data from more than 15,000 pupils in 2,500 schools about their online habits and how they feel about the internet and social media.

The data was collected by Natterhub, an online safety and digital literacy platform, to provide an insight into the thoughts and feelings of children on the internet and social media.

Far more children are spending time online since the start of the pandemic, with schools switching to digital learning during lockdowns. Most pupils have digital safety lessons but the results of the survey suggest that not all the messages are getting through.

Almost four out of ten children aged between five and seven said that they could tell whether someone was good or bad based on their profile picture, suggesting that they may trust someone online based on their appearance.

The report said that 76 per cent of children knew someone who had been trolled and half of children aged ten to 11 admitted regretting something that they had posted online.

More than half had experienced cyberbullying: 55 per cent had been on the receiving end of bullying over their appearance and 22 per cent on their race or ethnicity while 91 per cent said that they wanted the internet to be kinder.

Almost three quarters of children have shared posts on social media and 25 per cent of children aged eight to nine were unaware that anything they posted online could be seen by people they did not know.

While 76 per cent of 10 to 11-year-olds have had images of themselves shared by someone else online, only 12 per cent had been asked for permission before posting the image

Caroline Allams, the co-founder of Natterhub who used to be assistant head teacher, said: “As our children live with and through technology they have a right to education to help keep them suitably safe and savvy online.

“Our data depicts much potential risk, and digital literacy education provides the necessary skills to bolster resilience and knowledge in order for children to thrive online.

“Taking a triangular parent-teacher-pupil approach ought to be a priority now if we are to safely steer our young people in the right direction. We hope that the publication of this data will provide useful insight for other providers to support where pupils need it most.”

Jonathan Seaton, co-founder of the educational publisher Twinkl, said:

“It was surprising to see how many children don’t understand how their posts can be seen by others and have had their images shared without permission online.”


Source: The Times

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