8-12 year-olds using social networks
A quarter of children aged 8-12 who use the Internet at home say they have a profile on Facebook, Bebo or MySpace, although the lowest minimum age set on any of the sites is 13, new Ofcom research has revealed.
by Rune H. Rasmussen
However, 83 per cent of these children have their profile set so that it can only be seen by friends, and 4 per cent have a profile that can't be seen. This shows that young web users are quite savvy when it comes to online safety.
Among parents of these children, nine in ten parents who are aware that their child visits social networking sites (93 per cent) also say that they check what their child is doing on these types of sites. On the other hand, 17 per cent of parents are unaware that their child visits social networking sites.
The Ofcom report also includes data which shows that amongst 5-7 year-olds just over a third (37 per cent) visited Facebook in October 2009, but they did not necessarily have a profile.
Downloading of TV programmes, films and music
Downloading or watching TV programmes or films on the Internet has increased by 4 per cent in the past year by children aged 8-15 who use the Internet at home (from 17 per cent in 2008 to 21 per cent in 2009).
When asked about their thoughts on digital piracy, 44 per cent of 12-15s say they think that downloading shared copies of films and music for free should not be illegal, with 18 per cent saying they don't know and 38 per cent saying it should be illegal. Boys aged 12 to 15 were more likely to say digital downloading should not be illegal.
Blogs and information sites
Blogs or sites like Wikipedia where people can add or change information are visited by 18 per cent of 8-11s and half of 12-15s (48 per cent) who use the Internet at home. Users of these sites aged 8-11 are much more likely than 12-15s to believe that the information on these types of sites is all or mostly true (70 per cent vs. 48 per cent) with boys aged 8-15 more likely than girls of this age to believe that all or most of the information is true (59 per cent vs. 46 per cent).
Two in five users of social networking sites aged 8-11 and 12-15 also believe that all or most of the information on these sites is true (38 per cent and 40 per cent respectively).
In addition, 27 per cent of 12-15s who use search engines think that search engines only return results from websites with truthful information.
Ofcom’s annual Children’s Media Literacy Audit provides an overview of media literacy among children and young people and their parents and carers. The research involved interviews with 2131 children and young people aged 5-15 and their parents/carers in spring and autumn of 2009. Three in four children aged 5-15 use the Internet at home, an increase since 2007 among 5-7s (63% vs. 50%), 8-11s (76% vs. 65%), and 12-15s (83% vs. 75%).
Read the full report.
Ofcoms’ advice for parents and carers on keeping children safe on the Internet.
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