Permission to share?

Young people struggle to resolve “consent confusion” online


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  • New research reveals the positives and challenges of young people sharing content online
  • Sharing content online seen as critical to connecting with the world and making a positive difference – but a lack of clarity around consent causes confusion and young people struggle to navigate ‘the rules’
  • Figures show a mismatch between young people’s attitudes to online sharing, and their actions
  • Research released by the UK Safer Internet Centre, official co-ordinators of Safer Internet Day, as part of this year’s campaign with over 2000 organisations coming together to support the day
  • New research commissioned by the UK Safer Internet Centre reveals how sharing and viewing content is integral to the lives of young people, and the positives and challenges that come with this.

    The research comes as more than 2000 supporters in the UK, including Government ministers, Premier League football clubs, industry bodies, celebrities, charities, schools and police services join together with young people, to inspire people throughout the UK to ignite conversations and host events that help promote the safe, responsible and positive use of digital technology for children and young people.

    In an increasingly digitised world, with young people sharing a variety of content every day, 65% say they would feel disconnected from the world if they couldn’t be online. Helping them to make sense of their daily lives and wider society, 70% of young people say being online helps them understand what’s happening in the world and 60% only know about certain issues or news because of the internet.

    Crucially, young people are using the internet as a safe space to understand and navigate topics they’re nervous to ask about, with 67% saying it’s easier to learn about them online. Encouragingly, the internet has helped almost half (46%) through a difficult time.

    With technology enabling us to connect and learn faster than ever, 48% of young people say being online makes them feel like their voices and actions matter. Maximising on the collective power of the internet, 42% have been inspired to take positive action by sharing support for a campaign, social movement or petition.

    However, the myriad of ways in which young people connect online means they must also navigate the complexities of asking for and giving permission before sharing. Young people have a strong sense of right and wrong online, with an overwhelming 84% believing everyone has a responsibility to respect others. However, in practice almost half (48%) admit their peers don’t always think before they post. 36% of young people are sharing screenshots of other peoples’ photos, comments or messages at least weekly.

    This exposes young people to a confusing landscape when it comes to online consent, and a lack of consensus on how to navigate this. Half of young people (51%) think their friends should ask for permission before tagging them or sharing a photo or video of them, while 37% think their parents should ask. Furthermore, 27% are likely to read a friend’s messages without their permission.

    Young people are also not asking permission before posting, despite 81% knowing when and how to ask. Consequently, in the last year over half of young people (52%) said someone they know shared a photo or video of them without asking.

    This breach of consent can leave young people feeling anxious or not in control (39%), with a lack of clarity clearly having a real impact on their lives.

    Even when permission is sought, young people are facing further pressures. Despite feeling confident telling their friends (82%) and parents (85%) not to share something about them online, in practice it can be difficult to say no. In the last year, 34% have said yes to something about them being shared online, even though they didn’t want it to be.

    The ‘rules’ are also confused when consent is breached. Whilst the majority of young people would always remove something they’d posted about a friend if asked to, 36% would not. Encouragingly, young people do rally against injustices they see online and 68% would report something that had been shared about them without permission. 63% would report if it happened to a friend.

    The UK Safer Internet Centre (comprised of Childnet, Internet Watch Foundation and South West Grid for Learning) believes it is crucial to bridge the gap between young people’s attitudes and behaviours online. With Safer Internet Day, the Centre is collaborating with hundreds of organisations across the UK to empower young people with clear strategies and guidance to navigate the internet in a safe and respectful way. The Centre has also developed educational resources to equip parents, schools and other members of the children’s workforce with tools to support young people.

    Will Gardner OBE, Director of the UK Safer Internet Centre, says:
    “There can be no doubt that sharing and connecting with others online is an integral part of everyday life for young people. Today’s findings are encouraging, highlighting how young people have a strong sense of what is right online, and are harnessing the internet to make a positive difference for themselves and others.

    “However, our research shows that without clear guidance for navigating the complexities of online consent, the gap between young people’s attitudes and behaviours is striking.

    “Safer Internet Day provides a unique opportunity to address this gap, by listening to young people’s “It is vital that we – from an individual to an industry level – take responsibility to support young people to navigate consent online and put their positive attitudes into action. We must move beyond advising them only on what they should do online, and work with them to understand how to do this in practice.

    “In doing so, we can empower young people, and those that support them, to be better able to harness and use the positive power of the internet for good.”

    Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:
    “The internet can be an amazing resource. Used wisely, it can open up a world of information and learning, but as any parent knows only too well these days, with these benefits come serious and real dangers online.

    “We must provide children with the skills to use technology and take advantage of the online world effectively and safely. We are making Relationships Education compulsory in all primary schools and Relationships and Sex Education compulsory in all secondary schools, to sit alongside the existing Computing curriculum. Teachers will address online safety and appropriate behaviour in a way that is relevant to pupils’ lives.

    “All children will be taught about online friendships as well as to face-to-face relationships. I want children to understand that the same rules of good behaviour and kindness that they are taught in the playground also apply online.”

    Home Secretary Sajid Javid said:
    “As a parent, I know how important it is to keep children safe online.

    “The internet can be a fantastic place to connect with people and share information, but it can also be exploited by criminals and abusers. It’s great to see more than 2,000 organisations come together on Safer Internet Day to promote the positive power of digital technology.

    “The Government is committed to keeping children safe online. We are working closely with the technology industry to make the internet a safer and more responsible place.”

    The full research report can be read here:

    www.saferinternet.org.uk/our-internetSID2019 Banner

    Written by Safeguarding Essentials on February 05, 2019 13:02

    Why children spend time online

    Children’s online time has settled at just over two hours per day, as a new study by Ofcom uncovers the reasons young people are drawn to video services such as Netflix and YouTube.

    Ofcom 2019

  • New research explains how YouTube taps into kids’ interests

  • ‘Live’ TV remains important for family time

  • Children are finding it harder to manage their screen time – but many say they achieve a balance


  • Children in the UK (aged 5 to 15)[1] now spend around 20 minutes more online, in a typical day, than they do in front of a TV set – just over two hours online, and a little under two hours watching TV – according to Ofcom’s annual study of their media use [2]. Two children looking at television and computer screens.

    While children’s online time stopped growing for the first time in 2018 – estimated at an average of 2 hours 11 minutes per day, the same as the year before – their average daily TV time has fallen year on year by almost eight minutes, to an estimated 1 hour 52 minutes.

    YouTube remains children’s primary online destination, with 80% having used it. Nearly half (49%) of children, and a third (32%) of pre-schoolers aged 3-4, now watch subscription on-demand services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Now TV.

    Among those who watch both YouTube and TV programmes on a TV set, nearly half of ‘tweens’ aged 8-11 and older children aged 12-15 (49%) prefer watching content on YouTube. However, more than a third get the same enjoyment from both viewing experiences.

    Children’s preference for watching programmes on TV versus YouTube videos (2017/2018)

    Ofcom Graphic



    Life on the small screen

    To help understand why children are drawn towards online content, this year Ofcom has undertaken a detailed qualitative study of children’s viewing.

    A panel of 40 boys and girls, aged 4-16, from around the UK, offered in-depth data, seven-day diaries and interviews on what they were watching and why. The study revealed powerful preferences for choice, control and a sense of community. It found that:

  • YouTube dominates, followed by Netflix. Children in the study overwhelmingly preferred watching YouTube (almost all children watched it daily) and Netflix, to any other platforms [3].
  • Live TV is parent-led, and often reserved for family time. Most of the children in the study watched live, scheduled TV, though only a small number did so daily [4]. Live TV viewing was often convened by parents, allowing the family to come together to watch soaps, quizzes or ‘appointment viewing’ such as Strictly Come Dancing or The X-Factor. Some children used live TV to fill time, often while they were doing something else such as eating dinner.
  • Choice and control. Many children said they valued YouTube and Netflix for offering instant control over what they are watching, and access to seemingly endless, personalised content. Children appreciated the platforms’ content recommendations and valued receiving notifications from the channels they subscribed to. Some preferred to watch content privately, whether this be on their personal devices or in their bedrooms.
  • Children turn to YouTube for three things. The study found most of the children’s viewing on YouTube fell into three broad categories [5]:
    1. Hobbies and passions. Lots of children watched videos related to their offline interests – such as tutorials to further their passion for music or football. Some experienced similar gratification watching others participating in hands-on activities – such as arts and craft, or playing sport – to the extent that they said they no longer took part in these activities themselves in the ‘real world’.
    2. Vloggers and community. Many children watched ‘vloggers’ or YouTubers, often connecting with them through a shared passion such as sports or crafts, and enjoying becoming part of their ‘follower’ community. Lots of the children said they looked up to their favourite vloggers as role models, or regarded them as a friend who could provide support or advice. This type of content also appealed to children’s natural curiosity about other people’s ‘normal’ lives; they felt the videos had an authenticity which made them easy to relate to.
    3. Sensory videos. Many children enjoyed videos which included ‘satisfying’ noises – such as other people making and playing with slime, or opening presents. Such videos are described as ‘Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response’ – due to their ability to generate a feeling of well-being and relaxation among some people.

    Yih-Choung Teh, Strategy and Research Group Director at Ofcom, said: “Children have told us in their own words why online content captures most of their attention. These insights can help inform parents and policymakers as they consider the role of the internet in children’s lives.

    “This research also sheds light on the challenge for UK broadcasters in competing for kids’ attention. But it’s clear that children today still value original TV programmes that reflect their lives, and those primetime TV moments which remain integral to family life.”

    Managing screen time

    Ofcom’s national, quantitative research also finds that older children are finding it harder to control their screen time than they were last year. Stats on children owning mobile phones and tablets. Image shows two children in bed looking at screens.

    The proportion of 12-15s who agreed they found it difficult to moderate their screen time has increased to a third (35%), up from a quarter (27%) the year before. Seven in ten older children (71%) are allowed to take their mobile phone to bed.

    But in spite of these challenges, around two thirds of 12-15 year olds (63%) considered they ultimately achieved ‘a good balance between screen time and doing other things’.Ofcom graphic 2

    Quantitative research: Ofcom’s Children’s Media Use and Attitudes report 2018 - based on around 2,000 interviews with children and parents nationwide. 2018 data collected from 1,430 interviews with parents of 5-15s and children aged 8-15, along with 630 interviews with parents of children aged 3-4.

    Qualitative research: Revealing Reality Life on the small screen: What children are watching and why (PDF, 6.1 MB) - 40 children and young people aged between 4 and 16 took part during winter 2018. Respondents were from a range of locations across England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Each child completed a seven-day media diary. Objective data, including ‘watch histories’ and app usage statistics, was also collected from devices. Finally, researchers spent time in each household conducting interviews.

    1. Unless otherwise specified, the data cited for ‘children’ relates to youngsters aged 5-15.
    2. When making comparisons across media, as is the case here, it is worth bearing in mind that there will be a degree of overlap between these estimates and some of these activities may also be undertaken simultaneously. Watching TV on a TV set will include watching live broadcast TV as well as on-demand or subscription services such as Netflix or Amazon Prime Video. Going online could include playing games online, going on social media or watching videos online.
    3. Out of the 40 children in the study, 37 and 16 watched YouTube and Netflix respectively every day.
    4. Out of the 40 children in the study 35 watched live TV and 10 watched it every day.
    5. Ofcom’s quantitative data also shows that particular types of content on YouTube have grown in popularity among 5-15 year olds since 2017: ‘How to’ video tutorials about hobbies or sports (from 40% to 45% in 2017 and 2018 respectively watch this type of content), videos featuring vlogger personalities (32% to 41%) and ‘unboxing’ videos where toys are unwrapped or assembled (21% to 25%).
    6. In July 2018, Ofcom published an update on our review of children’s content. This identified a lack of original, high-quality programmes specifically made for older children, a limited range of programmes that helped children understand the world around them and allowed them to see themselves and their lives reflected on screen. We have asked the commercial PSBs – Channel 4, Channel 5 and ITV - to develop plans to address these concerns by spring 2019. We expect these plans to demonstrate how they will reach children across their full range of services and platforms, and they will exploit the internet, to take account of the changes in viewing habits and preferences of younger audiences.

    Written by Safeguarding Essentials on January 31, 2019 11:57

    Henry Platten, Founder of eCadets and GoBubble Launches NetSupport Online Safety Almanac

    The new NetSupport and eCadets Online Safety Almanac gives a timely and unique insight into the most up-to-date online safety research, relevant to schools and colleges. Henry tells us more...


    E-safety AlmanacOur eagerly awaited NetSupport and eCadets Online Safety Almanac launched at the world’s biggest edtech event, Bett 2019 last week. Bringing together key findings from front-line reports and research papers, the Almanac is essential reading for educators who are keen to secure or update their knowledge of online safety and associated safeguarding processes.

    I am honoured to be partnering with my great friend and associate, Al Kingsley, MD at NetSupport and his knowledgeable team on production of this much-needed and important directory, which will provide vital advice to ensure the online safety of children in schools and colleges across the UK.

    The Almanac is designed to give a valuable understanding of how children and young people are using and interacting with technology within educational settings and at home. As its author, I have drawn on my considerable experience in creating innovative solutions to keep children safe online, to produce a distillation of the most important and thought-provoking research relating to online child-safety.

    Bridging the gap between research and best practice, the Almanac will deliver an overview of the most pertinent ‘Stats and Facts’ relating to children’s online safety, covering hard-hitting topics such as: filtering and monitoring; social media use; cyberbullying; sexting; peer on peer abuse and governance. It will also offer ‘Top Tips’ and relevant case studies, providing practical help and guidance to assist frontline teaching staff.

    Said NetSupport’s Al Kingsley: “The importance of being able to get the important information into the right hands at the right time is also what motivated the creation of this Almanac. I’m proud our dear friend Henry Platten has authored the report for us. I’d like to thank him for the great deal of research and time he has invested into this report. It is designed to put the information you need in the palm of your hands.”

    The Almanac can be downloaded here

    Written by Henry Platten on January 30, 2019 13:07


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