Older children are getting wise to fake news

Highlights from the latest Ofcom, Children and Parents Media Use and Attitudes Report 2017


Ofcom Fake NewsOlder children are less trusting of news on social media than from other sources, and employ a range of measures to separate fact from fiction, Ofcom research has found.

More than half (54%) of 12- to 15-year-olds use social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, to access online news, making it the second most popular source of news after television (62%).

The news that children read via social media is provided by third-party websites. While some of these may be reputable news organisations, others may not.

But many children are wise to these risks. Just 32% of 12- to 15-year-olds who say social media is one of their top news sources believe news accessed through these sites is always, or mostly, reported truthfully, compared to 59% who say this about TV and 59% about radio.

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of online tweens are aware of the concept of ‘fake news’, and four in ten (39%) say they have seen a fake news story online or on social media.

The findings are from Ofcom’s Children and Parents Media Use and Attitudes Report 2017. This year, the report examines for the first time how children aged 12 to15 consume news and online content.

Filtering fake news
The vast majority of 12-15s who follow news on social media are questioning the content they see. Almost nine in ten (86%) say they would make at least one practical attempt to check whether a social media news story is true or false.

The main approaches older children say they would take include:

  • seeing if the news story appears elsewhere (48% of children who follow news on social media would do this);
  • reading comments after the news report in a bid to verify its authenticity (39%);
  • checking whether the organisation behind it is one they trust (26%); and
  • assessing the professional quality of the article (20%).

    Some 63% of 12- to 15-year-olds who are aware of fake news are prepared to do something about it, with 35% saying they would tell their parents or other family member. Meanwhile, 18% would leave a comment saying they thought the news story was fake; and 14% would report the content to the social media website directly.

    But some children still need help telling fact from fiction, almost half (46%) of 12-15s who use social media for news say they find it difficult to tell whether a social media news story is true and 8% say they wouldn’t make any checks.

    Emily Keaney, Head of Children’s Research at Ofcom, said: “Most older children now use social media to access news, so it’s vitally important they can take time to evaluate what they read, particularly as it isn’t always easy to tell fact from fiction.

    “It’s reassuring that almost all children now say they have strategies for checking whether a social media news story is true or false. There may be two reasons behind this: lower trust in news shared through social media, but the digital generation are also becoming savvy online.

    Children’s online lives
    More children are using the internet than ever before. Nine in ten (92% of 5- to 15-year-olds) are online in 2017 – up from 87% last year.

    More than half of pre-schoolers (53% of 3-4s) and 79% of 5-7s are online – a year-on-year increase of 12 percentage points for both these age groups.

    Much of this growth is driven by the increased use of tablets: 65% of 3-4s, and 75% of 5-7s now use these devices at home – up from 55% and 67% respectively in 2016.

    Children’s social media preferences have also shifted over recent years. In 2014, 69% of 12-15s had a social media profile, and most of these (66%) said their main profile was on Facebook. The number of 12-15s with a profile now stands at 74%, while the number of these who say Facebook is their main profile has dropped to 40%.

    In contrast, Snapchat has rapidly grown in popularity among this ‘tween’ group. More than three in ten (32%) say it’s their main social media profile, up from just 3% in 2014.

    Though most social media platforms require users to be 13 or over, they are very popular with younger children. More than a quarter (28%) of 10-year-olds have a social media profile, rising to around half of children aged 11 or 12 (46% and 51% respectively).

    Awareness of the required minimum age is low among parents. Six in ten parents of children who use Facebook (62%), and around eight in ten parents of children who use Instagram or Snapchat (79% and 85%) either didn’t know there was an age restriction, or gave the incorrect age.

    Many parents choose not to apply minimum age limits. Among parents of children aged between 5 and 15, over four in ten (43%) said they would allow their child to use social media sites ahead of them reaching the minimum age required.

    One reason for this could be that nearly all parents of 5-15 year olds (96%) say they mediate their children’s use of the internet. This includes having regular conversations with their child about online safety, using technical tools such as network-level filters, imposing rules about internet use, or directly supervising their child. Two in five parents (40%) use all four methods.

    More parents of children aged 5 to 15 are using network-level filters at home – 37% did so last year, nearly twice the level in 2014.

    Aside from social media, one of the primary online destinations for children of all ages is YouTube, with eight in ten (81%) children aged 5 to 15 regularly using the website to watch short clips or programmes.

    Among older children, YouTube is the most recognised content brand; 94% of 12-15s have heard of it compared to 89% for ITV, 87% for Netflix, and 82% for BBC One and Two.

    Negative online experiences
    Half of children (49%) aged 12 to 15 who use the internet say they ‘never’ see hateful content online. But the proportion of children who have increased this year, from 34% in 2016 to 45% in 2017.

    More than a third (37%) of children who saw this type of content took some action. The most common response was to report it to the website in question (17%). Other steps included adding a counter-comment to say they thought it was wrong (13%), and blocking the person who shared or made the hateful comments (12%).

    Media lives by age: a snapshot
    Ofcom Media Lives by Age



  • Written by E-safety Support on December 21, 2017 09:53

    Online overtakes TV as kids’ top pastime

    The internet has overtaken television as the top media pastime for the UK’s children.

    Ofcom Report 2016
    Ofcom’s report on Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes, published recently, reveals that children’s internet use has reached record highs, with youngsters aged 5-15 spending around 15 hours each week online – overtaking time spent watching a TV set for the first time.



    Even pre-schoolers, aged 3-4, are spending eight hours and 18 minutes a week online, up an hour and a half from six hours 48 minutes in the last year.

    According to Ofcom’s data, children aged 5-15 have increased their weekly online time by an hour and 18 minutes in the last year to 15 hours.

    In contrast, children are spending less time watching a TV set, with their weekly viewing dropping from 14 hours 48 minutes in 2015 to 13 hours 36 minutes in the last year.

    YouTube is one of the most popular online destinations for children to watch content, with around three quarters (73%) of those aged 5-15 using the video site. It is also a hit with pre-schoolers with 37% regularly watching YouTube videos, who typically pick ‘TV content’ such as cartoons and mini-movies.

    And older children are beginning to show a preference for YouTube with four in ten 8-11s and 12-15s saying they prefer watching YouTube than the TV set.

    Despite this, Ofcom’s research shows that TV still plays an important role in children’s lives with nine in 10 still watching, generally every day, and the largest number of children watching at peak family viewing time, 6 – 9pm.

    Digital childhood
    Digital devices are more widespread among children than ever, including the very young. Today’s research finds that a third (34%) of pre-schoolers (aged 3-4) own their own media device – such as a tablet or games console.

    Pre-schoolers typically enjoy digital entertainment on a tablet, with more than half (55%) using one, and 16% owning their own tablet – up from just 3% in 2013.

    As children reach pre-to-early teenage years, they prefer smartphones to tablets – with the proportion of children owning one up from 35% to 41% in the last year. This means one in three tweens (8-11s), and eight in 10 older children (12-15s) now have their own smartphone.

    As children spend more of their time online, their awareness of advertising and ‘vlogger’ endorsements has also increased with more than half of internet users aged 12-15 (55%) now aware that online advertising can be personalised - up 10 percentage points in the last year. And, 12-15s awareness of product endorsement from vloggers has also increased by 10 percentage points to 57% in 2016.

    But, many children still need help to identify advertising on search engine Google with only a minority of 8-11s (24%) and 12-15s (38%) correctly recognising sponsored links.

    Book at bedtime
    Despite the importance of digital devices in children’s lives, Ofcom’s Digital Day research, also published recently, shows that reading is the third most popular activity with primary school aged children (62%) beating newer activities such as watching online video clips (47%), instant messaging (10%) and watching music videos (11%)5.

    Staying safe online
    More than nine in ten children aged 8-15 have had conversations with parents or teachers about being safe online, and would tell someone if they saw something they found worrying or nasty.

    Parents of older children are most likely to be having these types of conversations with their children, with 92% of parents of 12-15s saying they have spoken to their child about online safety, an increase of six percentage points since 2015.

    Nearly all parents (96%) of 5-15s manage their children’s internet use in some way – through technical tools, talking to or supervising their child, or setting rules about access to the internet and online behaviour. Two in five parents use all four approaches.

    And, parents of children aged 5-15s are more likely to use network level filters in 2016 - up five percentage points to 31%7.

    On the most part, families are in agreement that their child has a good balance between screen time and doing other activities. Most children aged 12-15 (64%), and parents of children of the same age (65%), believe this balance is about right.

    Jane Rumble, Ofcom Director of Market Intelligence said: “Children’s lives are increasingly digital, with tablets and smartphones commanding more attention than ever. Even so, families are finding time for more traditional activities, such as watching TV together or reading a bedtime story.”

    Click here to download the full Children and Parents: media use and attitudes report

    Ofcom Online versus TV

    Written by E-safety Support on November 24, 2016 11:32

    Digital Natives lack online nous

    Children are becoming more trusting of what they see online, but sometimes lack the understanding to decide whether it is true or impartial.


    Ofcom Report 2015Ofcom's Children and Parents: Media and Attitudes report, published recently, reveals that children aged 8-15 are spending more than twice as much time online as they did a decade ago, reaching over 15 hours each week in 2015.

    But even for children who have grown up with the internet - so-called digital natives - there's room to improve their digital know-how and understanding.

    For example, children do not always question what they find online. One in five online 12-15s (19%) believe information returned by a search engine such as Google or Bing must be true, yet only a third of 12-15s (31%) are able to identify paid-for adverts in these results.

    Nearly one in ten (8%) of all children aged 8-15 who go online believe information from social media websites or apps is "all true" - doubling from 4% in 2014.

    Children are increasingly turning to YouTube for "true and accurate" information about what's going on in the world. The video sharing site is the preferred choice for this kind of information among nearly one in ten (8%) online children, up from just 3% in 2014.

    But only half of 12-15s (52%) who watch YouTube are aware that advertising is the main source of funding on the site, and less than half (47%) are aware that ‘vloggers' (video bloggers) can be paid to endorse products or services.

    James Thickett, Ofcom's Director of Research, said: "The internet allows children to learn, discover different points of view and stay connected with friends and family. But these digital natives still need help to develop the know-how they need to navigate the online world."

    Children's online lives

    Children aged 12-15 were split about whether being online helped them be themselves, with around one third (34%) agreeing and a similar amount (35%) disagreeing. The remaining 31% were unsure whether being online helped them be themselves or not.

    Most 12-15s (72%) believe that most people behave differently when they're online, with girls more likely to say this happens than boys (78% versus 67%).

    More than two thirds (67%) of girls aged 12-15 with a social media account said there were things they dislike about social media. Nearly one in three (30%) were concerned about people spreading gossip or rumours and a quarter (23%) said people can be "nasty, mean or unkind to others".

    This compared with just over half of boys aged 12-15 (52%) reporting things they dislike about social media.

    Many children are also concerned about spending too much time on the internet. Around one in ten online children aged 8-15 (9%) say they dislike spending too much time online, and nearly one in three 12-15s (31%) admit they can sometimes spend too much time on social media in particular.

    Parents' role in online safety

    More than nine in ten parents of 8-15s (92%) manage their children's internet use in some way - either through technical tools, talking to or supervising their child, or setting rules about access to the internet and online behaviour. Nearly four in ten parents (38%) use all four approaches.

    Among the technical tools used by parents are network-level content filters offered by broadband providers. Almost six in ten parents of 8-15s (56%) are aware of these parental controls, up from 50% in 2014, and a quarter (26%) use them, up from 21% in 2014.

    It appears that the vast majority of children do hear the advice given about staying safe online. Some 97% of children aged 8-15 recall advice they've been given, particularly from parents.

    The large majority (84%) of children aged 8-15 also say they would tell their parents, another family member or a teacher if they saw something online they found worrying, nasty or offensive. However, 6% of children say they would not tell anyone.

    Written by E-safety Support on December 03, 2015 12:51


    Join E-safety Support

    • Protect your pupils
    • Support your teachers
    • Deliver outstanding practice

    Recent Stories
    Story Tags
    addiction anti_bullying_alliance anti-radicalisation apps ask.fm assembly avatars awards bett Breck_Foundation bug bullying BYOD calendar cber_bullying censorship ceop chatfoss checklist child child_exploitation childline childnet child_protection childwise christmas ClassDojo classroom competition cookies CPD creepshot CSE curriculum cyberbullying cyber_bullying cyber_crime cybersmile_foundation cybersurvey DCMS Demos development devices DfE digital_citizenship digital_footprint digital_forensics digital_leaders digital_literacy digital_native digital_reputation digital_wellbeing eCadets education e-learning emoticon e-safe esafety e-safety e-safety, e-safety_support #esscomp #esstips ethics exa exploitation extreemism extremism extremism, facebook fake_news fantastict fapchat FAPZ film filtering freemium friendly_wifi gaming #GetSafeOnline glossary GoBubble gogadgetfree google governor grooming #GSODay2016 guidance hacker hacking icon information innovation inspection instagram instragram internet internet_matters internet_of_things internet_safety into_film ipad iphone ipod irights IWF language leetspeak lesson like linkedin malware media mental_health mobile monitor monitoring naace navigation neknominate netiquette network news NHCAW nomophobia nspcc NWG ofcom offline ofsted omegle online online_safety oracle parents phishing phone Point2Protect policy pornography power_for_good pressure PREVENT primary privacy professional_development protection PSHE #pupilvoiceweek ratting rdi reporting research risk robots safeguarding safer_internet_day safety SCD2015 #SCD2016 school sdfsdf security self-harm selfie sexting sextortion ShareAware sid SID SID2016 SID2017 SID2018 smartphone snapchat snappening social_media social_media, social_networking staff staff_training #standuptobullying statutory_guidance Stop_CSE stop_cyberbullying_day stress students survey swgfl SWGfL tablet teach teachers technology texting tootoot training TrainingToolz troll trolling twitter UKCCIS uk_safer_internet_centre UK_youth unplug2015 virus webinar website we_protect what_is_e-safety wifi wi-fi windows wizard yik_yak young_people youthworks youtube YPSI yubo
    Archive