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Young people want advice about online privacy

Teen compMore than half (54 per cent) of 11-16 year olds say young people need more advice about online privacy,  new Ofcom research reveals today.

Over a quarter (28 percent) also believe that information is needed on how to keep security information such as passwords and PIN numbers safe.

Just over a fifth (22 per cent) want more information on how to avoid inappropriate content online, and a similar number (20 per cent) want more advice on how to deal with cyberbullying.

Our research also found that nearly a quarter of children and young people wouldn’t know what they would do if they encountered ‘inappropriate material’ on their mobile phone or games console.

And while almost three quarters of 7-16 year olds say they have received some information about staying safe online, 23 per cent say no-one has talked to them about online safety.

Help keeping children safe on line

The majority of parents and carers surveyed (79 per cent) say that they know enough about how to help their child stay safe online.

But over one in ten say they need additional help and support – particularly when it comes to filters and controls set by games suppliers and internet service providers, as well as more information on how to set online controls or blocks.

To that end, Ofcom has today  published two new guides for parents and carers on how to use parental controls on mobile phones, games consoles and portable media players and, if they need to, how to report inappropriate content.

Parental controls for mobile phones [554kb pdf]

Parental controls for games consoles and portable media players [969kb pdf]

Today’s  research found that mobile phone use is widespread among children and young people and an increasing number access the internet via a mobile phone.

Mobile phones

Just over 10 per cent of children use their mobile phone to go online. When online they most frequently say they are downloading or playing music (80 per cent), visiting social networks (45 per cent) and instant messaging (38 per cent).

Thirty five per cent of parents and carers who say their child uses a mobile phone to go online are aware of the existence of access controls on mobile phones and just over half of them (53 per cent) say the access controls are activated on their child’s phone.

The research found that very few children and young people say that they have experienced something which made them feel uncomfortable, upset, scared or worried, or which they think they were too young to see on a mobile phone.

Some 4 per cent of children who use a mobile phone say that they have seen or heard ‘inappropriate material’ on their mobile phone. But none of the children say they accessed anything ‘inappropriate’ when using a mobile phone on a ‘gated’ portal.

‘Gated access’ refers to online activity that takes place via a mobile phone company’s mobile web portal. As such, while the user may be able to access a range of online and third party content, the operator restricts the content available to users.

In the few reported incidents of encountering ‘inappropriate material’, most came via offline channels such as text/SMS/photo/video.

Games consoles

Sixteen per cent of children who have a games console use it to go online. Thirty two per cent of parents and carers whose child uses a games console to go online are aware of access controls and two thirds (67 per cent) of them say the controls are activated.

Twenty four per cent of parents or carers whose children use a games console to go online spontaneously mention appropriate age ratings and a fifth mention not playing for too long (20 per cent) when asked about rules and restrictions on games consoles.

Some 5 per cent of children who used a games console to go online said they had encountered ‘inappropriate material’.

Full research document [654kb pdf]

*The research, carried out by Ipsos Mori on behalf of Ofcom, comprised 797 face-to-face interviews with children aged 7-16 and their parent or carer. As part of Ofcom’s remit it needs to be aware of consumer trends in the use of communication devices and services and understand any potential media literacy-related issues arising from these.

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