Youngsters quizzed about online safety get top marks

Over 2,000 children from schools around the country were surveyed by UKIE’s Digital Schoolhouse, to find out how clued in they are to things like online safety in gaming: 76 per cent said they had complete confidence in their ability to stay safe, with only two per cent reporting no confidence in their ability.

The report comes from the non-profit initiative also revealed 63 per cent of parents speak to their children about staying safe online, and plenty of kids update their privacy settings to keep things as safe as they can be – 67 per cent responding that they have actually updated said settings on social media and on games consoles.

While common assumed knowledge has it that children are digital natives and are thus more comfortable in the online sphere, the survey showed that actually more than half of kids are not comfortable expressing themselves online. 45 per cent responded with yes, while the remaining 55 per cent was a mix of ‘no’, ‘unsure’, or ‘other’.

Meanwhile children who play games online know where to look for information on how to do so safely, with 80 per cent of respondents answering in the affirmative. On the other side, just 59 per cent of those who don’t play online said they’d know where to find help and information.

One aspect often discussed with online safety of children is the parent’s role, and in this area the survey showed some surprising figures. Only 19.6 per cent of respondents said their family set limits on how much time could be spent online and stuck to it, while 35.5 per cent said no limits at all were set or enforced. A further 29.9 per cent of replies said limits were set, but not enforced.

It’s clear from the study there’s still work to be done, but it’s not as doom-and-gloom or hopeless sounding as your usual tabloid headline might have it. Kids are informed about online safety, but it needs to be hammered home more. They take precautions, but it would help if they took more. And families really need to get a handle on things like screen time – and enforce it. Which, admittedly, is easier said than done.

Shahneila Saeed, director of Digital Schoolhouse and head of education at UKIE, said: “It’s reassuring to see how intuitively and smartly a lot of children are behaving when it comes to staying safe online. It reflects the impact of the excellent work that schools and industry are doing in this space.

“The survey has helped us to identify the areas we need to work on and has raised questions about the need for both a greater collaboration with parents and a national conversation about what else we can do ensure young people remain safe online.”

The full report can be viewed online through here.

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